May 22 2013

Bridge Babies!

Published by at 7:00 am under Nesting & Courtship,Peregrines

Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Robert Stovers on Wikimedia Commons)

After three disappointing banding attempts at Pittsburgh area bridges, Dan Brauning struck peregrine gold yesterday at the I-79 Neville Island Bridge, pictured above.

Last week he and Art McMorris brought back disappointing news from Tarentum, Westinghouse and McKees Rocks:  solo abandoned eggs at Tarentum and McKees Rocks, and a single handicapped nestling with a poor prognosis at Westinghouse.

But yesterday was good.  Dan found three peregrine nestlings at the Glenfield span of the I-79 Neville Island Bridge.  The two males and one female chick are 22 days old.

Anne Marie Bosnyak and Laura Marshall monitor this site and were on the scene.  When they arrived at 9:00am they saw both adult peregrines on the bridge and hunting in the vicinity.  Around 10:00am Dan and PennDOT went under the bridge and walked the catwalk from Neville Island to Glenfield but found no peregrines.  If there were baby peregrines on the bridge why weren't their parents defending them?

On the way back to the Neville Island side Dan checked some additional nooks.  One of the parents arrived with prey and was so stunned that humans were approaching her nest that she perched silently for a moment.   Then all hell broke loose.  Kak and attack!   The noise signaled her mate to come quickly and he joined the fray.

Both adults are banded and now their chicks are, too.  Dan was able to read the bands on the mother peregrine:  black/red 62/H born in 2010 in Canton, Ohio.  Ohio peregrine fans, this is Magnum, photographed by Jeff McDonald on New Year's Day at Cork-Bocktown Rd.

The chicks are due to fledge on June 5 and they will need watchers!  The only reason we know of this site is because a fledgling fell in the river last year and was rescued by boaters.  Imagine if no one saw him!   Stay tuned next week for information on where to watch and when.  Earmark June 5-10!

Meanwhile in Beaver County...

After the I-79 Bridge banding, Dan met up with WCO Matt Kramer and confirmed that peregrines are not nesting at the Monaca-East Rochester Bridge as they have since 2007.  Instead they've moved 1.25 miles downstream to the huge railroad bridge across the Ohio at Monaca-Beaver.

Ohio River railroad bridge, Beaver, PA

I'm surprised they moved but not surprised they chose this bridge.  It's the tallest in the area, has a long westward view down the river, and is perfect for nesting if you can stand the roar and thump of trains.  Back in March 2008 several of us witnessed a territorial battle at this bridge.

Why didn't peregrines move here earlier?  Perhaps there wasn't the proper substrate for making a scrape until now.

In any case, they've chosen an inaccessible spot near the top so their babies won't be banded.  Sneaky!


(photo of Neville Island I-79 Bridge from Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Monaca-Beaver railroad bridge by Kate St. John)

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Bridge Babies!”

  1. Geneon 22 May 2013 at 8:16 am

    “Stay tuned next week for information on where to watch and when. Earmark June 5-10!”

    Yes please do, I live not far from there and would love to get a glimpse of this new peregrine family.


  2. Anne Marieon 22 May 2013 at 9:17 am

    Thanks for the shout out Kate, but I can’t take all the credit. In fact, Laura Marshall, who has been watching the bridge faithfully the last 2 months as well was the first to see the food brought to the nest. She pinpointed the nest location and the PGC commented it was exactly where she said it would be!

    Anyone seeing us yesterday whooping and cheering in the Marriott parking lot near the bridge certainly must have thought we were crazy! 🙂

  3. Kate St. Johnon 22 May 2013 at 9:45 am

    Thanks for the update, Anne Marie. I’ve added Laura’s name to the blog and I hope to meet her — at the bridge!

  4. Allyon 22 May 2013 at 9:31 am

    Aww I was so looking forward to hearing what gender the Monaca bridge babies were since they’re the closest nest to me.

  5. The Wild Sowon 22 May 2013 at 4:06 pm

    What great news! I saw an adult flying around the Neville Island Bridge 2 days ago (back channel side) but since I was actually *driving* at the time I couldn’t really stop to get a good look.

    My daughter Megan lives in Rochester and always watched out for the falcons on that bridge. I told her they moved to the P&LE bridge but we hope they’ll still come over to her side of town to hunt! She said she’ll still keep an eye out for them, as will I when I’m in the neighborhood.

  6. CarrolltonOhon 22 May 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Kate///You Made My Day with This News….Thank Goodness For the Caring Boaters!!!
    Thank You!!!

    We.. At Magnum’s Birthplace… rejoice with You!! 🙂

  7. Susan Tinlinon 23 May 2013 at 11:58 am

    Hello, Kate !
    Thank you so much for letting us know about Magnum!! Could you please let us know Daddy’s information, and the babies’ band ID information too. With Great Appreciation for your work – Susan

  8. Kate St. Johnon 23 May 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Susan, the male did not get close enough to identify, and I don’t know the chicks’ band numbers.

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