Jun 09 2013

Watch The Parents

Published by at 7:20 am under Peregrines

Adult peregrine at I-79 Neville Island Bridge (photo by Gene Henderson)

It's embarrassing to give advice and not benefit from it myself.

Yesterday morning I met Laura Marshall and Gene Henderson for Fledge Watch at the I-79 Neville Island Bridge.

While we watched from the Fairfield Inn lot, Laura described the nest location in the middle of the span and I gave pointers on how to find the fledglings:  "Watch the parents.  They'll show you where the fledglings are."

In the beginning both peregrine parents were perched on a bridge abutment on the Glenfield side.  Gene had been over there but they made warning sounds so he left.

The adults stayed at Glenfield a long time and then, in an unusual move, both flew to our side of the river and perched on a similar abutment.  (Here's Gene's photo of an adult on that abutment.)

Sometimes the mother bird, Magnum, swooped down to the river and disappeared for a while. Sometimes we heard a juvie whining.

I walked to the Park-n-ride lot with two Fairfield Inn guests but we had to stay back because "Dad" peregrine made warning sounds at our approach.

Did we benefit from these parental clues?  No.

Laura guided me and Tricia McIntyre to the Glenfield side where she has permission to watch the birds on private land.  Magnum was still on the abutment on Neville Island and we saw two juvies walk the I-beam near the nest. None of us had seen the third juvie yet when Laura said, "There's a peregrine on the piling across the river."  Ta dah!  It was the third bird. He had fledged!

He was safe from predators on a concrete island eight feet above the water.  His parents visited and demonstrated how to flap away.  He dealt with three people in a fishing boat by shouting and walking away.  (Read about the boat beginning with Mark B's comment here.)  He was fine.

In retrospect Magnum and her mate showed us exactly what was going on.  I'll bet their fledgling was on the Glenfield side when Gene was over there -- hence their warning.  They accompanied their son when he flew to the Neville Island side and "dad" warned us away.  Magnum swooped down to the piling and we heard the juvie's calls echo under the bridge.

I should learn from my own advice:  "Watch the parents.  They'll show you where the fledglings are."


(photo by Gene Henderson)


p.s.  Fledge Watchers still needed at this bridge!  Click here for directions.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Watch The Parents”

  1. Rob Protzon 09 Jun 2013 at 11:52 am

    Good work by all!

  2. Carolynon 09 Jun 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I returned to the port authority parking lot tonight between 6-7pm. All was quiet for the first forty minutes; then an adult flew from behind me, calling loudly, and landed on the middle of an I-beam. While the view was distant, the adult seemed to be tearing apart a recent catch. He or she then made some short, swooping circles before landing on an abutment near the Glenfield side, and stayed there. I saw no more activity, and heard no cries from the brood. In light of this recent blog post…I’m wondering if they were simply waiting, patiently, for me to leave!

  3. Kate St. Johnon 10 Jun 2013 at 6:40 am

    Observations from three of us on Sunday:

    Laura Marshall’s observations, Sunday 06/09/13 1215-1345.
    Sunny and warming up. Went to the Park and ride spot but no one was bothered about my presence so went over to the Fairfield where the view is better. Female on the rail/ ladder and a juvie on the Glenfield side foundation/base of the 3 columns just like yesterday on the Neville side. Maybe this is the other male since Kate said that the females usually fledge last. Many boaters on the water going back and forth but I didn’t hear any cries from kid or parent. He walked very little compared to his brother yesterday, spread himself flat for awhile and flapped only once. It occurred to me that this was the first time that he has felt sun! Found Dad on the small landside column. Eventually both adults flew away and returned with lunch. Dad went back to his perch and Mom took the kill to an I-beam. It was twenty minutes or so before she took the meal to the juvie on the foundation. I don’t know if the young female back at the nest was fed or not. Dad flew over to one of the lamp posts to keep a closer watch for lurking danger while mom was serving lunch. A whole family of geese swam underneath without incident. It was interesting because the adult geese were showing their little ones how to flap their wings and lift their bodies out of the water and a few of them were doing it.

    Kate St. John, Sunday at 4:30pm.
    I stopped at Neville Island beneath the Fairfield Inn sign at 4:30pm and saw 1 juvie on the piling on the Glenfield side and 1 adult watching from above on the bridge abutment. When I first got there the juvie was running along the top of the abutment and flapping his wings. Lots of exercise. He reached the far end upriver, stopped and perched for a long time.
    Laura came at about 4:45pm.
    Three guys fishing from a boat had “parked” their boat an easy distance from the piling and periodically observed/photographed the juvie.

    Anne Marie Bosnyak, Sunday at 6:00pm.
    Other 2 kids on beam under bridge.

    All three youngsters are accounted for. The bird on the Glenfield piling is the one who was on the Neville Island side on Saturday, proving that he can fly across the river. Good!

  4. Furry Gnomeon 10 Jun 2013 at 1:12 pm

    This story of the Pittsburgh peregrines is fascinating, and your pictures of them diving are awesome! Enjoy hearing about it.

    The Furry Gnome

  5. Anne Marieon 10 Jun 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Laura and I were there today… I got there around noon (Fairfield) and noticed Laura at the Park n Ride. Laura had already been to Glenfield. One parent was on the down river Neville pier, baby was still on the up river pier Glenfield side, presumably still there from yesterday.

    Laura took me back to the Glenfield side. There we saw the chick on the pier flapping and lift off! Both parents flew out to circle with this as he made his way UP to the catwalk! PHFEW! That deserves a treat! But none was given! About this time, Magnum (we think) did a lot of kakking and circling over our heads.. we weren’t that close, but still I was a little uncomfortable! She finally settled down and took food to the one chick on the beam near the nest. This chick did a lot of flapping and walked the whole length of the beam from up to down river side. Despite calling Fledge chick still did not get food.

    Since it was raining we moved under the bridge and notice “dad” (we think) on the down river pier Glenfield and could see the fledgling a beam screaming periodically. We watched for a while and it wasn’t until mom got back when she circled over us again. Dad never seemed to care that we were there, but remember he wasn’t guarding when the PGC came to band that day either! He’s very laid back! 🙂

    since it was raining, we decided to leave them in peace. Wish we had seen the 3rd chick.

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