Oct 20 2010

Defending the Home Front

Published by at 7:37 am under Peregrines

We had a little peregrine excitement at the University of Pittsburgh yesterday.

Around 3:00pm Tony Bledsoe called to tell me that he was outdoors by the Cathedral of Learning and he could hear our peregrines chirping-cacking. 

It's unusual for them to make noise in the fall.  As we remarked on this over the phone Tony saw why they were making noise.  "There are three peregrines.  They're chasing each other!  This might be a fight."

Indeed a third peregrine had arrived on campus and the two residents were chasing him away.  Tony saw a lot of chasing but nothing dangerous.  Eventually two of the birds -- both males -- flew off to the south.  Dorothy stayed at home to await further developments.

At 3:15pm I took my binoculars to the west window at WQED and tried to find the peregrines on the Cathedral of Learning.  One of them was perched at the southeast 38th floor corner, E2's favorite spot.  As I watched he took off and flew toward me, pumping hard to chase a bird I couldn't see to my east.  Whoever it was got the message and left.  E2 banked above Central Catholic and returned home.  Within a minute both he and Dorothy were prominently perched atop the Cathedral of Learning, warning all other peregrines to stay away.

Later Dorothy stopped by the nestbox, scuffed at the gravel, and perched at the lookout.  Waiting and watching. 

October's the time when arctic peregrines migrate through Pittsburgh and the mid-latitude falcons wander to find a territory.  Dorothy and E2 are vigilant this month, defending the home front.  They have no intention of losing their territory.

(photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at the University of Pittsburgh)

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Defending the Home Front”

  1. Marianneon 20 Oct 2010 at 9:41 am

    It is exciting to hear about “our” peregrines again. PW has been going on for a long time.

    It is good that this story has a happy ending. Thanks to Tony and Kate for sharing! 🙂

  2. faith cornellon 20 Oct 2010 at 10:00 am

    So heartwarming to see how they defend their nursery. What a nice glimpse for fall.

    PS: Yesterday a Junco landed on our deck at the window; if I had not seen this little bird on your blog I would not have known what it was. I felt so honored; I don’t think I ever saw one here before. It stayed awhile, then looked for seeds or insects, whatever it eats, in the grasses. Felt such a joy. People have to really understand bird watching for what it is.

  3. Anne Marieon 20 Oct 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks Kate! Just what I needed to read about today… as Marianne says… nice to read about “our” peregrines.

    Lately I’ve been checking in on the happenings of Molly the Owl and her 2nd clutch. Both owlets have fledged and today is the last day for the cameras since the human owners of the owlbox are going on vacation! However, one outcome of the ‘molly-mania” has been numerous songs written about Molly, her mate and her owlets (cute little ditties that play over and over and over in your head) and I thought… what’s wrong with us!?!? We have E2, Dorothy, Dori, and Louie to write about… certainly the peregrine chatters should be able to come up with a catchy tune and lyrics about our beloved peregrine falcons! 🙂

  4. MBon 21 Oct 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I don’t know much about birds, but I am pretty sure I have seen a peregrine twice in Schenley Park while running. While running in Schenley today, I saw a peregrine (pretty sure it was one), hunting a squirrel. While taking a shortcut on a connector trail, I saw a large bird on a tree branch about 20 feet up. I stopped, and watched it for about 20 seconds. I then saw it swoop down after a squirrel which darted under a large rotting tree trunk. The peregrine stood on top of the tree trying to flush it out, but after 5 minutes it had no luck. It then flew at me at an angle, ending up flying about 15 feet away from me, over my head. A pretty cool encounter!


  5. Steve-oon 22 Oct 2010 at 5:40 pm

    My wife wonders if this wasn’t our bird from Tarentum.

  6. Kate St. Johnon 23 Oct 2010 at 8:19 am

    Steve-o, …who knows? The male at Tarentum is Dorothy & E2’s son so if he came to visit I don’t think he’d be chased very hard and he wouldn’t stay long because he isn’t supposed to hassle his parents. Plus he has a territory of his own. …But those are only my guesses.

  7. Anne Marieon 25 Oct 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I’m pretty sure I identified a peregrine falcon flying over the parkway east… right near the section where you can see the Schenley Park area. Still learning about bird identification, but the silhouette had the pointed wings that I think signals a peregrine. SO… if it were… could it be Dorothy, E2 or maybe a Dori/Louie? You can see the tall Pgh buildings from this point on the parkway… surely that’s not a long flight for a peregrine.

    so … do we know how the peregrine territories in Pgh are defined?

  8. Kate St. Johnon 25 Oct 2010 at 12:08 pm

    That valley is a favorite flight path for the Cathedral of Learning peregrines. They fly due south down the valley from the CL, then make a left turn around the edge of Greenfield to fly up the Mon River to Duck Hollow. I’ve seen them do it when counting birds in Greenfield for the Christmas Bird Count.
    Also, their hunting patterns expand a bit in the winter because there are fewer birds in the area. However, it’s all part of their territory.

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