Aug 14 2009

Pittsburgh Pete learns a new skill

Published by at 7:44 am under Peregrines

Pittsburgh Pete (photo by Judy Bailey)

Pittsburgh Pete, as he was nicknamed in Canada, has been through a lot in his three years.  He was born at Pittsburgh’s Gulf Tower in 2006 and flew to Burlington, Ontario where he nested successfully at the Lift Bridge in 2008.  At the end of that nesting season he was gravely injured by a rival peregrine.  He recovered from that injury but was attacked again, lost his nest site and nearly lost his life.  He ended up in rehab last November at the aviary of Judy Bailey, an Animal Control Officer for the City of Hamilton, Ontario. 

Though he’s received the best of medical care Pete has never fully recovered from his injuries.  He has no detectable head or wing injury but he has seizures so he can’t be released into the wild. 

As soon as his health improved Judy tried to find Pete a permanent home but it was hard to place him because of his seizures.  His luck turned recently when Mountsberg Conservation in Campbellville, Ontario said they would take him for their Bird of Prey education program if he will sit quietly on the glove.  All Pete has to do is learn a new skill and get clearance from Canada’s Ministry of Natural Resources.

To be an educational bird Pete needs to accept human contact from his trainers and tolerate humans nearby, so Judy is teaching him how.  She writes, “He took to being tethered remarkably well!  The day after I jessed him, he walked about a foot to my glove, latched on with one foot and ate the quail. By the 3rd or 4th day he hopped onto the glove and ate. Within a few days I was able to pet his feet, legs and belly. He’s not thrilled but he tolerates it. He will still get a bit antsy, at times, when I get close to the perch/booth, however, he quickly settles and eyes the glove. He’ll get very vocal with me at times!!  …Incidentally, I have not witnessed a seizure since he has been tethered!!”

This is great news because Pete’s future hangs on his ability learn these lessons.  I think he can do it.  Pete’s a very resilient bird. 

(photo by Judy Bailey)

13 responses so far

13 Responses to “Pittsburgh Pete learns a new skill”

  1. Kittyon 14 Aug 2009 at 9:12 am

    WOW!! Very interesting. I think it would be interesting to see a “where are they now” of the peregrines born in Pittsburgh from the Cathedral and Gulf Tower.

  2. Hollyon 14 Aug 2009 at 9:43 am

    Awww! What a great story. Would make a terrific kids book, don’t you think?

  3. Kate St. Johnon 14 Aug 2009 at 9:59 am

    Kitty, Here’s where they’ve ended up…
    Check the links at the bottom too.

  4. Kathyon 14 Aug 2009 at 11:08 am

    Such a sweet face!! Oh, I hope he is a quick study. It sounds as if he may be.

  5. Dianeon 14 Aug 2009 at 4:59 pm

    I think Pete looks like he has a lot to teach us. In my opinion, he looks way too determined to fail. GO PETE:)

  6. faith Cornellon 14 Aug 2009 at 8:50 pm

    What a wonderful grand story to come home to today. Faith Cornell

  7. Cris Hamiltonon 15 Aug 2009 at 7:52 am

    Interesting post, Kate. Hope he does well. Thanks for sharing the story!

  8. Libby Strizzion 15 Aug 2009 at 8:33 am

    RE: no seizures since he was tethered. Perhaps since he couldn’t be a peregrine any more, maybe he needed something new to do with his life. I enjoy your peregrine tales so much, I get excited when I see one’s photo in your blog. Flowers are nice, but give me more peregrine stuff! It’s a long way til next March and your nesting tales, isn’t it? I know all of us suffer peregrine withdrawal once they have fledged.

  9. Pattyon 15 Aug 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Here’s wishing the best for Pete!

    Speaking of educational Peregrines, Kate, do you know anything about Wanda, the Peregrine who lives at the National Aviary? On my last visit, I asked why she wasn’t on exhibit and didn’t get a very clear answer, although someone did say she was used in educational events. Seems like she ought to be out for us to see, especially considering that the Aviary sponsors the web cams.

  10. Kate St. Johnon 15 Aug 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Yes, it will be a long time until nesting season next year. The Pitt peregrines are hanging out at the Cathedral of Learning but they aren’t doing much. On Thursday Karen Lang and I saw both adults on Heinz Chapel steeple. E2 had food and Dorothy was talking to him about it, “ee-chup, ee-chup, ee-chup.” We couldn’t figure out what she meant except maybe, “Please share!”

  11. Kate St. Johnon 15 Aug 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Patty, I don’t know the answer to your question about Wanda … and maybe the person you asked didn’t know either. You can ask the Aviary via their email contact form:
    or call them at 412-323-7235.

  12. Kathy from Torontoon 25 Aug 2009 at 5:25 pm


    Thank you so much for the latest news on Pete – everyone up here misses him and has worried about how he is doing. I’m thrilled you posted a photo of him so we could see for ourselves how he is faring!

  13. Sue McCreadieon 30 Aug 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Kate, thanks so much for the update on “Pittsburgh Pete”. My husband and I were just a couple of the watchers who participated in the Fledge Watch last year at the Burlington Lift Bridge. It was amazing to watch while “Pittsburgh Pete” was “in recovery”, the female “Mom” taking care of him as well as her 4 young. We hope that he learns is new skills quickly and that we will see him soon at Mountsberg teaching his lessons well. Looking forward to seeing him.

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