Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Novel Location

Some time yesterday afternoon the second peregrine chick at the Cathedral of Learning flew for the first time but she didn't land high on the home "cliff."

When I got to Fledge Watch after work I counted only three peregrine chicks and two adults.  I wasn't worried about the fourth but I had no idea where she was.  Many minutes later I noticed an unusual lump on the globe at Carnegie Library & Museum.

The fourth chick!  We joked that she wanted to check out a book.

None of the Watchers had seen her fly but we were treated to quite a show when her father tried to convince her to come home.

Around 7:00pm E2 came back from Schenley Park with prey in his talons.  He made a big show of flying past her at eye level, showing her the food.  Then he landed near the top of Heinz Chapel steeple and made a big show of plucking it.  When he finished he flew past her again and again, showing the prey but refusing to land.  "Here's your dinner," he said, "but you can't eat here.  Follow me home."

She made begging calls but didn't fly so E2 circled above Schenley Plaza, still showing the prey.

That's when we got a treat.  Dorothy flew off the Cathedral of Learning, circled with E2, then flipped over and did a prey exchange.  Woo hoo!  Applause from the Watchers!

Dorothy delivered the meal to the two unfledged chicks on the nestrail, but watching them eat her dinner was too much for Globe Girl.  She flew off the museum, made a big circle over us... and she landed near the globe again.   Oh well.

After 8:00pm my husband and I walked through Schenley Plaza and saw that Globe Girl had made it home... sort of.  I found her by looking for the shouting robins.  Globe Girl was perched on the roof of Stephen Foster Memorial Theater, surrounded by angry robins.  Safe but embarrassed!

By now I'll bet she's perched somewhere else.  I hope it's not another novel location.

(photo by Mary DeVaughn)

Photos from Pitt Fledge Watch, Midday June 3

Chuck Tague brought his Osher class to Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch yesterday afternoon.  Here's a selection of photos he posted on his Facebook page with commentary and identification clues.

Two chicks on the nestrail watch dad fly by.  "Here's how it's done," says E2.

One of the chicks takes the hint and flaps her wings.... but she didn't fly.

The FirstFledge chick practices his flying skills while E2 watches from his favorite lookout.

FirstFledge chick learns to soar!

Here's an identification tip when you're watching the juvenile peregrines:  When peregrine chicks first learn to fly they flap much more than their parents do and you can usually tell them apart from their parents by this trait.

Soon they learn to soar, as this chick is doing, and that hint is gone.

Here's another identification clue:  Notice that the edge of this juvenile's tail is light-colored.  The sun is making it glow.  Peregrine chicks have cream-colored tips on their tails.  Right now the adults have no light-colored tips on their tails because their feathers are worn.  (When the adults molt next month they will grow tail feathers with white tips.)

So this month, when you see a peregrine with a light-tipped tail it's a juvenile.  This hint only works in June.

(photos by Chuck Tague)

Lots of Peregrine News: Pitt and Gulf

Yesterday was a busy day for Pittsburgh's peregrines and Fledge Watchers.

At Pitt, the Cathedral of Learning nest:

The folks who stopped by for midday watch (shown above) were treated to views of the entire peregrine family though the peregrines were not very active.  Three youngsters perched on the nestrail and one on the top of the building while Dorothy and E2 watched them.  Despite this, it was great to see so many peregrines without any real effort other than feeding the parking meter.  How many people do you know who've seen six peregrines at the same time?

Evening watch was more exciting.   There were still three youngsters on the nestrail, sometimes flapping.  E2 made a spectacular stoop over Craig Street, Dorothy went hunting in Schenley Park and the youngster on the roof flew around a lot.  Sharon Leadbitter captured the action in pictures and video.  Here's a selection.

Youngster flapping on the nestrail:

The brave one launches from the roof!

And landed somewhere new to him:

Click here for a video of one of his flights, thanks to Sharon.

Pitt Fledge Watch Schedule:  Unchanged so far.  Today (June 3) noon-2:00pm and 5:30-7:00pm.  Tomorrow (June 4) 10:00am-2:00pm unless it's thundering ...storms are predicted for Saturday afternoon.


At the Gulf Tower:
The dedicated Gulf Tower watchers did a lot of detective work yesterday.  Donna Memon searched the webcam video archives and found First Fledge, which she saved as a hotspot.  (Click here for instructions on how to view the hotspot.)   

Barb Becker reported that the first-to-fly was not at the nest for about 34 hours but he came home for dinner last evening.  While Barb was watching them eat, Donna captured this image of all five with Dori.

This morning only three youngsters were visible at the Gulf Tower nest.  Barb says that a second youngster looked like he was almost ready to fly last night.  I'll bet he did!

Gulf Fledge Watch Schedule:  Great news!  Three of the Pitt Fledge Watchers are planning to watch at Gulf this weekend.  I don't have a schedule yet but here's what I know:  John English, Anne Marie Bosnyak and Sharon Leadbitter have suggested two places to conduct the Watch and are planning to be there this weekend.  John will watch from the Boy Scout parking lot near Flag Plaza and Mellon Arena,  Sharon suggests the top floor of the Greyhound Station parking lot (I hear it's only $5 on weekends), and Anne Marie will probably visit both sites. 

If you're interested in watching at Gulf, leave a comment and I'll post your proposed (or definite) Gulf Tower Watch times in a new blog.

(photos by Kate St. John (Fledge Watchers), Sharon Leadbitter (fledglings) and the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Chipmunk Fight!

How often have you seen chipmunks peacefully browsing together? 

Not very often, and there's a reason. 

Chipmunks are very territorial.  They really don't like each other except as babies or juveniles who just left the nest.

I've seen chipmunks chase each other and tussle but they're so fast that I can't tell what they're doing.  

Last weekend Shawn Collins had his camera ready when two chipmunks went after each other.  And, yes, they were so fast it was hard to get a clear shot. 

Look at this flash of fur!  Ow!

Soon it was over and the loser ran away.

The victor remained for a parting portrait, the tumble of battle visible on his fur.


Not to another chipmunk!


(photos by Shawn Collins)

Did One Fledge on Tuesday?

I got a message from Barb Becker at Make-A-Wish that starting yesterday they've been seeing only four chicks at the Gulf Tower nest.  (There are four in this picture.)

There are many explanations for this but the probable one -- at least to me -- is that the oldest of the chicks fledged on Tuesday evening.

When they were banded last Thursday, one of the five chicks was clearly more feathered than the others.  He seemed days ahead of his siblings and was so ready to fly that he considered jumping when Beth Fife came to the ledge to collect him for banding.

The oldest male at Gulf Tower (pictured in this slideshow) seemed to be the same age as his cohorts at the Cathedral of Learning.  He was probably just as ready to fly on Tuesday as the young male at Pitt.

So if you're downtown, keep your eyes peeled for the young peregrines from the Gulf Tower.  They are -- or will be -- ready to fly soon!

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower)

Pitt Peregrines are on the Move!

Busy morning at the Cathedral of Learning nest! 

Last evening the young male peregrine made his first flight and landed on the other side the building.  This morning his three sisters climbed out of camera range.  I'll bet they're up on the nestrail waiting for breakfast. 

When I looked at the snapshot camera at 6:20am I thought there were no birds at the nest but I caught a glimpse of a juvenile on the roof perch. 

See that red tape on his USFW band (his right leg)?  This is the young male who flew last night.  I can tell he's doing really well because (a) he flew back to the nest to get breakfast and (b) he grabbed his breakfast and took it to a safe zone where his sisters can't disturb him. 

The three sisters can't fly yet but I'll bet at least two of them will have fledged by the end of Thursday. 

Fledge Watch Update, May 31

Here's what the Pitt peregrines saw last evening when they looked down on the Schenley Plaza tent:  Fledge Watchers.

Jennie Barker captured this photo at 6:00pm from the web-controlled Internet camera on Pitt's website.  The camera is on edge of the 38th floor of the Cathedral of Learning.  Not quite as high as the peregrines, but you get the idea.

I'll be at the tent today from 1:00-2:00pm but can't make it this evening.  However, a dedicated group of watchers will be there after work with binoculars and scopes and a wealth of experience so feel free to join them. 

I'll bet they see a lot of fledgling action tonight.  Wish I could be there!

Fledge Watch Update, June 1 at 2pm:  We didn't see much activity at lunchtime though we did see one adult and two juveniles.  The "kids" seemed to be napping.

(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera and the Pitt Virtual Tour camera at the Cathedral of Learning)