May 17 2013

Disappointment at Two Bridges

Published by at 6:00 am under Peregrines

PGC's Art McMorris looks for the peregrine nest (photo by Sean Dicer)

Yesterday Dan Brauning and Art McMorris of the Pennsylvania Game Commission ventured out in PennDOT bucket trucks to band peregrine nestlings at two Pittsburgh area bridges:  Tarentum and Westinghouse.

Observers Rob Protz at Tarentum and John English at Westinghouse had pinpointed the locations on the bridges where the peregrines were nesting so Art arranged the site visits with PennDOT.

PennDOT was very helpful and the bucket trucks were impressive.  Unfortunately the news was not good.

At Tarentum, pictured above, Art McMorris leaned back to look into the nest hole but there were no nestlings, just one abandoned egg.

At Westinghouse there was one nestling too young to band and handicapped by convulsions and a deformed beak.  Not good.

This was not what anyone expected. Such a disappointment!

The adult peregrines will continue at their respective bridges, as shown below at Tarentum, but there won't be a fledge watch at either site.

Peregrine at Tarentum (photo by Sean Dicer)




(photos by Sean Dicer)


p.s. Click here for this news from the Tribune Review.

UPDATE, Friday afternoon, May 17:  Dan and Art visited the McKees Rocks Bridge peregrine nest where they found one unhatched, abandoned egg.  Make that "Disappointment at Three Bridges."

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Disappointment at Two Bridges”

  1. Earnhardt3fanon 17 May 2013 at 7:22 am


  2. Donnaon 17 May 2013 at 7:44 am

    Did they remove the little one with convulsions? 🙁 So so sad and I’m so so sorry!

  3. Kate St. Johnon 17 May 2013 at 7:45 am

    No, it is still there. Penndot will check later.

  4. Donnaon 17 May 2013 at 9:18 am

    Tough news to hear 🙁

  5. Steve-oon 17 May 2013 at 9:21 am

    This sucks. I think that the Tarentum Bridge needs a nest box. I can get you in touch with local scout leaders, maybe someone needs an Eagle project?

  6. Kathyon 17 May 2013 at 9:25 am

    Just such sad news!

  7. Rob Protzon 17 May 2013 at 10:36 am

    Someone actually suggested a nestbox for the Tarentum Bridge a while back on PABirds listserv. I replied that I didn’t think it would work, and Art replied in agreement. Now I’m not so sure. It might be a good idea, but I don’t know if Hope would take to it. However, it would be complicated, and would have to be coordinated with PGC and PennDot. I was thinking of something that could be attached to the side of the catwalk, myself.

  8. Noraon 17 May 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Some of the nestboxes here in the midwest are being built with the roof hinged so when opened it covers the front of the box, would something like that maybe be an option? Bob Anderson could be contacted through the Raptor Resource Project for more info on those.

    Such sad news from both nest sites.

  9. Diane Shumakeron 17 May 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Such sad news. Is it just me, or does anyone else think this seems to be a very disappointing year for a lot of the “birds of prey”?

  10. Kate St. Johnon 17 May 2013 at 3:01 pm

    In some respects it’s been disappointing but in others it’s been GREAT. We have 4 nestlings at the Downtown peregrine nest
    and Bald Eagles nesting in the City of Pittsburgh for the first time in centuries!

  11. Steve-oon 18 May 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Rob: Maybe make a box that is suspended under a catwalk? I still think that the high-rise would be a better location for a nest, but I can’t tell them that.
    I’ll be in Tarentum next month and am hoping to the falcons down at the bridge.

  12. TheWildSowon 19 May 2013 at 12:17 am

    I can’t help remembering poor Dorothy covering the eggs for a solid 12 hours during a snowstorm! The snow just kept piling up on the poor girl’s back, and every once in a while she’d get up and shake it off. And kept on keeping those eggs warm!

    I notice that the good outcome (downtown) is in a deep alcove on the building, and probably pretty sheltered from the elements. The more exposed nest sites (bridges, Pitt) were less successful. So I’m wondering if the winter-that-wouldn’t-die had anything to do with the low baby-count this year?

    Are there falcons on the East Rochester-Monaca bridge this year? I was down there yesterday and today but didn’t see any.

  13. Kate St. Johnon 19 May 2013 at 8:16 am

    Winter was probably not the determining factor at Pitt and some of the bridges nests. At Pitt, the unhatched eggs are part of Dorothy’s normal aging process (

    At the bridges we have 1 abandoned egg at Tarentum, 1 abandoned egg at McKees Rocks, and 1 handicapped nestling at Westinghouse. Winter is probably not the cause of these nest failures either. There are many years in which no peregrines hatch at one or more of our bridges. The sites are just not as productive as Pitt and Downtown.

    Monaca – EastRochester bridge: This year the peregrines moved their nest to the big railroad bridge downstream. The location is very high and requires railroad approval to get up there. It may be that no banding attempt will be made at this nest.

  14. TheWildSowon 19 May 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Cool, the Beaver P&LE Bridge is my old stomping grounds too! I’ll look for flying PFs next time I go down (next week maybe.) Are they at the Monaca end, the Beaver end, or somewhere in the middle?

  15. Kate St. Johnon 19 May 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Not sure where they are on the bridge. I hear they are up very high.

  16. Maureen Carron 20 May 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you, Kate St.John, for keeping us so informed. You earned the title of “Patron Saint of Peregrines”. You are incredible.

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