A Trip to Lawrenceville

On June 19 Cheryl Mosco sent me a message, "Hi Kate, I've been noticing a family of peregrines on top of the St Augustine's crosses in Lawrenceville. This morning, the parents were feeding their young one of my pigeons that frequently stop by for breakfast."

Cheryl said the peregrines usually visited between 6:00 and 8:00am and were very noticeable because they screamed and sometimes swooped at each other. 

I should have leapt at her message and gone over to investigate but life got in the way and the message became buried in my mailbox.

On July 23 Cheryl reminded me again, "Did you ever get a chance to check out my peregrines? I'm counting 3 now, hanging around the steeple for the past couple of weeks. ... If you stand in Arsenal Park at the 39th [Street] entrance, you can get a pretty good view."

Yikes! I forgot!  And I wouldn't be able to get over there for a week.

On Saturday July 30 I drove to Lawrenceville and paused on 39th Street to look at St. Augustine's.  Yes, there was a peregrine on the cross.  Who was it?

I drove the one-way streets to get a better view and eventually parked close enough to see the bird quite well with my binoculars.  It was Dorothy!

I know you're going to say, "How do you know it was Dorothy?"  Well, I was close enough to recognize her face.

It's easy to see why she was there.  A flock of 200 pigeons lives on 39th Street and Dorothy wanted breakfast.  Though she was alone on Saturday, I could imagine her youngsters following her to Lawrenceville and screaming, "Mom! Get me one of those pigeons!"

Cheryl's messages solved some mysteries of the past six weeks. 

  • When Karen Lang and I couldn't find Pitt's peregrines for days in a row they were probably in Lawrenceville. 
  • When Cheryl mentioned the peregrines screaming in mid-June, it was while the youngsters were learning to hunt and screaming to their parents for food. 
  • The peregrines probably got quieter at the end of June but Henry (Red) hit the SEI windows on July 6 and his parents started feeding him again.  The family returned in July. 
  • Henry is a very vocal peregrine -- quite a screamer.  As he recovers from his injury, his parents will feed him less and he will scream more … which explains Cheryl’s message on July 30.

July 30:  "One adult or possible two, and a smaller one are up there now, around 7:45 am, Sunday,- and she's been just screaming up there for about the past hour or so and still, ongoing. I can hear her even over the air conditioner. "  

(Male peregrines are a third smaller than females so that small screamer was probably Henry.)

After I returned from St. Augustine's I passed along Cheryl's news to the Pittsburgh peregrine fans and Sharon Leadbitter stopped by to take these pictures.  Here's her close-up of Dorothy:

Thank you, Cheryl, for telling me about the peregrines at St. Augustine's.  I wish I'd come over sooner!


p.s.  Why am I sure this is the Pitt family instead of Gulf ?   Not only did I recognize Dorothy but Pitt is much closer to St. Augustine's than the Gulf Tower.  Pitt to StAugs is 1.57 air miles.  Gulf to StAugs is 2.32 air miles.   And for completeness, Gulf to Pitt is 2.22 air miles.

(photos by Sharon Leadbitter)

10 thoughts on “A Trip to Lawrenceville

  1. I love hearing these wonderful “life stories” about “our” falcons. Thanks for sharing these with us.

  2. Ha! I thought it might be a Peregrine!! Here’s the thing Kate – I live a couple blocks over on 44th and my son and I were up early (6am) headed to a camping trip two weeks ago – and a bird that looked like a falcon caught a pigeon and landed on a light pole right in front of our house.
    My son and I were in awe!! Feathers were FLYING!! It was a snowstorm of feathers! And I quietly slipped into the house to get the camera – but then my neighbor loudly came out of his house – and WHEESH!! It flew away. It was too small to be a Red-tail so I thought maybe a Cooper’s – it looked like a Falcon but I thought they would never feed that low to the ground.

    Then this past Sunday, another Peregrin; apparently a young one – swooped over my roof and BAMN hit the neighbors window and landed on the roof of their porch. My son kept yelling “Mum! It missed the dove! It missed the dove!!” (I love Mornign Doves) Once again, I ran for the camera – too late.

    But something must have struck again because out of my Studio window, which overlooks my neighbors roof, I am privy to the sight of leftovers.

    I kept thinking “That simply can not be a peregrin – it’s too low around here!!” but now I know it is. I think the Falcon we have seen is a juvenile. And it is fearless – it ate that pigeon atop that pole and we were only feet away. And my six year wasn’t exactly quiet in his excitement.

    We saw either a Falcon or a Red-Tail Hawk swooping overhead on Monday, as well – around 6pm. I think it was a Red-Tail though, as it seemed to large to be a Falcon.

    I will try to get pictures. And now at least, I know its a Falcon. I had wanted to ask you, but was too embarrassed, thinking it must have been a really small hawk.

  3. so my son was definitely right! we have been hearing them every Sunday morning as we come out of church for weeks – we attend the 8:30 mass at Our Lady of the Angels (St. Augustines) – he calls it our peregrine angels – and says that they are telling us to have a good day! I am just surpirsed as to who it is – I thought it might be the ones from the Gulf Tower or 62nd street bridge! That Audobon Society Field guide for kids was well worth the money – and I bought it so long ago!

  4. Update: I sent Kate the one picture I did get and it was NOT a Peregrine.
    It was a Cooper’s Hawk! She was able to tell by the length of the tail and dusky colored feathers on its legs. 🙁

    I’m sorta disapointed and yet – I’m not!! The Cooper’s is a gorgeous bird and honestly to be visited by one in this urban area is pretty cool!!

    I also have a Mockingbird!! Also verified by Kate. It sings morning and evening. I hope it doesn’t get eaten by the Cooper’s.

    Thanks Kate!!

  5. The Northern Mockingbirds drive me crazy … I listen to bird calls as I’m walking and quiz myself by sound alone. Those birds like to “mock” me

    Cooper’s Hawks are so cool when they are hunting .. they swoop down low to the ground and do some pretty crazy manuevering …. Stunt birds of the sky maybe?

  6. Has anyone seen Peregrines at E. Liberty Presbyterian again? Or was that a rumor? I always look when I’m over that way (like today) but haven’t seen any.

  7. A few weeks ago a birding friend of mine (Jack Solomon) checked the East Liberty Presby Church for peregrines. He found red-tailed hawks there — no peregrines. At this point I’m inclined to believe peregrines haven’t been living there.
    Pitt to E.Lib.Presby is 1.86 air miles and probably too close to Pitt.

  8. i’m thinking Oakland Batman activity(construction, explosions, big cranes, and a black rubber bat man bird) helped to move the birds around a bit.

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