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)