Jun 14 2013

Sad News: Pitt’s only fledgling is dead

Published by at 11:52 am under Peregrines

Silver Boy is dead (photo by Kate St. John)

This morning I got a call from Peter Bell and the news was bad.

Peter had just gotten off the bus to come watch Pitt's peregrine family but instead of finding E2 and his son in the air, he found Silver Boy's body in the middle of Forbes Avenue in front of the art museum.  He'd been hit by a car.   One of his parents was on Heinz Chapel steeple, staring at the spot where Silver Boy died.

We got permission from the Game Commission to bury this year's only fledgling. Peter dug the hole and we said goodbye.

The season's over.  Silver Boy is dead.

(photo by Kate St. John)


p.s.  please see my comment here.

79 responses so far

79 Responses to “Sad News: Pitt’s only fledgling is dead”

  1. Allyon 14 Jun 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Oh no!!! Not our Silver Boy!!! 🙁 RIP little guy.

  2. Sue Vertosickon 14 Jun 2013 at 12:08 pm

    What heartbreaking news on this gloomy Friday. So very, very sad.

  3. Oliviaon 14 Jun 2013 at 12:13 pm

    So sad. RIP little [Silver] boy.

  4. Steffion 14 Jun 2013 at 12:13 pm

    OH, No!!!! This is very heartbreaking… I, along with many others watched him come out of his shell.

  5. bev.on 14 Jun 2013 at 12:23 pm

    This is heartbreaking news. I have not followed this year but as a falcon observer in my area and lover of these raptors, it breaks my heart when this happens
    What a gorgeous young fellow

    I know how hard you work down there

    soar high
    Bev from Canada

  6. Donnaon 14 Jun 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Oh Kate, I am so so sorry. I felt faint when I read this. Fly free little guy! 🙁

  7. Bobbyon 14 Jun 2013 at 12:31 pm

    So very, very sorry to hear this news!! We in Cleveland mourn your loss.

  8. Susan Tinlinon 14 Jun 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Kate, Im so sorry! My heart goes out to all the Peregrine lovers in Pittsburgh…

  9. Kris Genagonon 14 Jun 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this devastating news. Fly free, Silver Boy.

  10. Paton 14 Jun 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Poor Dorothy, poor us.

  11. Pat Careyon 14 Jun 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Oh how incredibly sad this is! My heart goes out to all of the Pittsburgh falcon watchers. 🙁

  12. jeanneon 14 Jun 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I am so sorry, Kate. Fly free, dear little one:(

  13. MAKon 14 Jun 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Oh Kate this is devastating news, so sorry for the loss to you,Dorothy,E2 and falcon lovers everywhere. 🙁

  14. Braveheart2665on 14 Jun 2013 at 1:24 pm

    RIP Precious one May you fly free at the Rainbow Bridge

  15. Tracyon 14 Jun 2013 at 1:36 pm

    So very upsetting. This is heart breaking. My second year following from NJ. I was devastated at last years death and now this. What happened do you think? He landed in the road? So so sad.

  16. Kate St. Johnon 14 Jun 2013 at 1:39 pm

    His neck was broken so he may have actually slammed into the side of a bus or a car.

  17. Lynneon 14 Jun 2013 at 1:39 pm

    That is such sad news!! I have watched this from the beginning, what a tragic ending.

  18. Donnaon 14 Jun 2013 at 1:44 pm

    So sad, but I’m glad he was given a proper burial near home.

  19. Deniseon 14 Jun 2013 at 2:12 pm

    No words. My heart is aching.

  20. Shannonon 14 Jun 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I couldn’t believe the news when I read it. I loved seeing Solo/Silver Boy hamming it up on camera. I’m glad he got a proper burial. Now he can fly safely in the sky .

  21. Kathyon 14 Jun 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Kate, from the bottom of my heart, I am so very sorry. This is such a difficult loss. I hurt so for Dorothy and E2.

  22. Amy Schaarsmithon 14 Jun 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Kate,
    I’m a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. We’re so sorry to hear about Silver Boy’s loss. It’s very sad. Because so many people in Pittsburgh (and beyond) have taken such an interest in the city’s falcons, and in particular Silver Boy, we would like to write a story about his life and what happened to him. His obituary, I guess you would say.

    Could I please talk to you for a few minutes this afternoon? I look forward to hearing back from you when you get a free moment. Thanks!

    Best regards,
    Amy Schaarsmith

  23. Ericaon 14 Jun 2013 at 3:29 pm

    So sad to hear. Very nice that you will get to bury him.

  24. Vicki Dinsmoreon 14 Jun 2013 at 3:31 pm

    My husband was walking from one building to another at Pitt, where he works, and saw the peregrine on the steeple. It was kayaking like it was the baby, and now we find it was the baby’s parent looking down where it’s baby was lying. We move with their lives through the good and bad. As was remarked before, Silver Boy could be Dorothy’s last, due to her age. Rest in peace, Silver Boy.

  25. CarrolltonOhon 14 Jun 2013 at 3:31 pm

    We at the Canton OH, feel for you too…We experienced the same today, with one of our four boy’s being found by Chris S. (C&C) today…apparent window strike…
    I hope for Dorthy and E2 to have the luck for a better year.. next season…Although she is getting up there…SW in Cleveland did it..so lets hope she can too!

  26. Kate St. Johnon 14 Jun 2013 at 4:47 pm

    CarrolltonOh, so sorry to hear this. It is so hard because we care so much about these birds.

  27. Maureen Carron 14 Jun 2013 at 3:50 pm

    This makes me very sad, with tears in my eyes. I’m so sorry for Dorothy & everyone concerned.

  28. Jessica Kuhnerton 14 Jun 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I am sorry to hear this news, but I am more sorry to see that whomever decided to publish a photo of a deceased bird did not consider that even animals deserve respect once their lives are lived. Please take this photo down and put one in its place that celebrates this birds life. It was deserving of our help in life and more deserving of respect in death.

  29. Maryanne in SCon 14 Jun 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Kate, like so many from all over, I had followed Silver Boy and his parents via your most excellent blog. Today’s news breaks my heart, too. I am so sorry . . .

  30. Gigion 14 Jun 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Very sad. Fly happy, forever free Silver Boy.

  31. lilian akinon 14 Jun 2013 at 4:55 pm

    I’m so sorry, Kate.

  32. Janet Campagnaon 14 Jun 2013 at 5:58 pm

    I’m a Pitt grad, living in CA. Been watching the progress since I saw it in the Pitt magazine. Very very sad. First only one chick, now gone. Thank you for your coverage.

  33. Ruthon 14 Jun 2013 at 5:59 pm

    So very sad to hear this news. =(

  34. Eileen Fordon 14 Jun 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Oh I am so sad for this loss.
    Also at the same time I am concerned about another of the fledglings around Neville Island /79 Bridge. This morning as I dropped my son at a friends house before going to Oakland for school, I saw either a red tail hawk or a young falcon hopping around on a residential driveway in a housing plan. This housing plan is rather high elevation in the hills oh Ohio township very close to the bridge. When I got out of my car to investigate, I could not find the bird (I believe it hid in some bushes as I stopped car, grabbed cell phone for camera) I talked to the local landscapers and asked them to contact the Game Commission if the bird was seen again& unable to take off from the ground. Do you know of any further run-ins today with these fledglings? I hope I was wrong and it was a juvenile hawk hoping around on residential driveways.

  35. Kate St. Johnon 14 Jun 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Eileen, The juvies at I-79 have not left the bridge area yet. Also, they are able to fly up off the ground now.

    If it’s a red-tailed hawk, which I think it is,it’s ok for it to be on the ground chasing prey. No worries.

  36. Patsyon 14 Jun 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Oh Kate, how sad!

  37. Melissaon 14 Jun 2013 at 6:11 pm

    So so sad. Such a beautiful story with a sad ending.

  38. Ingridon 14 Jun 2013 at 6:39 pm

    This is such a sad loss. 🙁

    Fly forever free little guy, you will be remembered by many from around the world

    Ingrid (Dutch Eagle Fan) from the Netherlands

  39. Carolynon 14 Jun 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Devastating. He was such a ham on that camera; impossible not to get attached to him. I hope Dorothy has at least one more chance to bless us with another beautiful baby, that lives to carry out her legacy.

  40. John P. Englishon 14 Jun 2013 at 7:31 pm

    With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel…

    Sail on Silver Boy,
    Sail on by
    Your time has come to shine
    All your dreams are on their way

  41. Sueon 14 Jun 2013 at 8:27 pm

    There is nothing wrong with photographing the beautiful bird in death.
    Death happens to all. If it happened too early, and it moves any of us to protect the life of these creatures—to advocate for more bird-friendly windows, and to protect more habitats—then photograph the results of our interventions, please…..

  42. Peteron 14 Jun 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Kate, I’m so glad you were able to pick up that call I made even though I hated making it. I think the photo of this guy’s colored-tape free, silver band is about the best memorial there is for this falcon. While he was 32/X, it was Silver Boy that was our short-term name for sharing messages of his development, and this photo captures that symbol so nicely.

    I’ve always been excited as these birds fledge and spend a little time closer to the ground where we get a better look at them. But the ground is so dangerous. It’s nothing but trouble, and they don’t belong anywhere near it! I wish we hadn’t been reminded of that this year.

  43. Jennieon 14 Jun 2013 at 8:49 pm

    How terribly sad. He had such a promising start, getting all of Dorothy and E2’s attention, doing so well, and now this. It’s heartbreaking.

  44. Nancy Weixelon 14 Jun 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Silver Boy will live on in our hearts–I was blessed to see him the day he went to the 25th floor as I sat under the tent with Kate, John, Peter and Sharon. I share your sorrow.

  45. Lauraon 14 Jun 2013 at 9:41 pm

    As for everyone… we know not the time nor the day….so we have to live our lives to the fullest. Thank you SilverBoy for the enjoyment you gave us these past few months of your life. Your short life was full.

  46. Marylouon 14 Jun 2013 at 10:43 pm

    OMG I am so sadden by this…..I am crying and feel so sad. RIP little SilverBoy….I watched you grow and you were a mighty fine Falcon. You will be missed my little friend by many of people. It was a remarkable season with much sadness….
    You are now free to fly without danger….Little solo

  47. Kate St. Johnon 14 Jun 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Thank you all for your kind words. My initial post this morning was short because I could not afford the time to write this:

    It is very hard to love peregrines as much as I do because bad things do happen and are, in fact, likely. Silver Boy had the statistics stacked against him. Juvenile mortality is more than 62%. I had hoped he would beat the odds. Alas!

    It was especially hard today to see his parents’ reactions. Dorothy was nowhere to be found. E2 was waiting and watching for him in the airspace around the Cathedral of Learning. I think they knew that Silver Boy was never coming home but it is hard to shut off parenting even though it’s over.

    I guess that’s the case for me too. Though I had no direct relationship with him, the fact that I watched him and looked for him every day of his life made him special to me. I think that’s true of anything you invest time in, more so if the investment is in a living thing.

    Some may say, “What’s all the fuss? He was just a wild bird.” Yes, but he was one of the few wild birds on earth that I, and many of you, knew as an individual. And that was pretty special too.

    It is hard to stop watching for him. The season is over way too soon.

  48. Libby Strizzion 15 Jun 2013 at 12:36 am

    Such sad, sad news — can’t stop the tears as I read all the many messages. It’s especially sad since Dorothy is older and reaching the end of her breeding life.

  49. Carol Kyrimeson 15 Jun 2013 at 6:28 am

    So especially sad for all of you who watched photographed and posted so I and others could Share and grow to love this special little peregrine. He now flies with the highest of powers in the highest of Sky’s.

  50. Amyon 15 Jun 2013 at 8:20 am

    I am so, so sad to hear this news! I have been following Dorothy, E2, and Silver Boy since he was only an egg waiting to hatch. How was he hit by a car? Did something happen while he was flying? My heart breaks for Dorothy, E2, and everyone who has been following this little Peregrine family!

  51. Kate St. Johnon 15 Jun 2013 at 8:24 am

    Amy, because of the condition & position of his body it appears that he swooped low and slammed into the side of a bus, truck or car. A car probably hit him after that.

  52. nancy battilanaon 15 Jun 2013 at 8:46 am

    How very sad – I look forward to March and follow each morning reading your blog before all else. Knowing Dorothy and E2 so well it seems after all these years, my tears and sympathy are with them, particularly Dorothy who may have had her last baby! Life is so sad at times!

  53. David Amamotoon 15 Jun 2013 at 10:09 am

    Kate: Thanks for sharing all of these happy and sad stories with us. I know how much you care for these wonderful birds, and that you have so much more invested than merely the time for watching and reporting. With Silver Boy’s passing, I am sad for you and for our community, but I look forward to a quietly successful nesting season next spring.

  54. Laurieon 15 Jun 2013 at 11:11 am

    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I picked up the paper this morning, seeing the sad news! I’ve been following these beautiful birds for many years and it breaks my heart every time we lose one. Thank you Kate and everyone for allowing us to become part of their “family.”

  55. Susan DeMarkon 15 Jun 2013 at 11:59 am


    I have tears as I am reading about this beautiful peregrine fledgling. Thank you for all of your posts and for helping so many to understand his short life and the risks to these peregrine fledglings. It was especially beautiful how you wrote about Dorothy and E2, and their response as the fledgling’s parents.

    My thoughts are with you also, in the loss of your little friend. Our lives are very intertwined once we come to know that animal as an individual.

    As a native of Western PA (now living in New York), I will continue to follow the progress of the peregrines. Though this season is over and this fledgling’s life sadly was cut short, we humans can continue to care for and be attuned to the peregrines who are still making their way.

    Thank you, Kate!


  56. Pat weberon 15 Jun 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I watched for the baby to grow each & every day .i was devastated when I turned to your
    site this morning.i even kept a file of photos as he was growing. It won’t be the same to
    not look forward each morning to see your latest news. Thank you for all you did to keep
    us up on Silver Boy. My tears are making this hard to keep going.

  57. judy crosson 15 Jun 2013 at 1:42 pm

    My heart aches for his parents. So sad.

  58. Victoriaon 15 Jun 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Kate, a heartfelt thanks to you for your efforts in bringing our attention to the Falcons. Thank you for sharing the beautiful photo by Kim Steininger. If someone could tell me what it is that comforts Falcon parents upon such a loss I would do it.

  59. Sue Hannonon 15 Jun 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Kate, so sorry to hear of Silver Boy’s loss. I feel for Dorothy and E2. The entire focus of their life for the past five months has been producing and caring for one little falcon, raising him up in the hope he would make it into the big world and eventually produce and raise young of his own. They must feel so lost and empty, without an outlet for the flight and skill training they are programmed to provide over the next 6 weeks. I know they will get over it and go on to raise a new brood next year, but in the moment, it must be just devastating. As it must be for you. I completely understand the attachment you feel for the young peregrines you watch (and for their parents). I have been watching Harrisburg’s falcons since 2005. In that time 31 little white balls of fluff have stolen my heart as soon as they emerged from their shells; 7 of them have not survived their fledging summer, and 2 more have been reported dead outside of the area after dispersal. In addition, we have lost two adult females. 11 broken hearts, each one carrying its own bitter flavor of loss. In spite of that, I freely give my heart to three or four new little white fluffballs every spring. I watch them as they grow in the scrape, enjoy discovering the individual personality quirks that set each one apart from its siblings, pour my heart and soul and every ounce of my energy into watching and protecting them as they take their first flights around the hazards of a busy downtown, and absolutely adore watching their balletic manoeuvers in the skies above the nest after they catch on to what their wings can really do. And I mourn with all my heart when one of ours falls. “It’s only a bird” just doesn’t come into it. Ask any Harrisburg watcher today about Little Peanut (our Silver Boy in 2006), and be prepared to see tears and a big smile all at the same time. He lives on in all of our hearts, as I am sure your Silver Boy will in yours.

    CarroltonOH, so sorry to hear about your loss also. These precious lives are so precarious in the first weeks of flight. I hope the other three will make it through to dispersal and go on to have long lives.

  60. Janet Campagnaon 15 Jun 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Have just made a donation in honor of Silver Boy. Nowhere on the donation to indicate that. RIP

  61. Kate St. Johnon 15 Jun 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you, Janet. I’ll let them know in the Fund-raising office.

  62. Kate St. Johnon 15 Jun 2013 at 5:41 pm

    A beautiful tribute to Silver Boy and his family in today’s Post-Gazette, by Amy Schaarsmith:

  63. Mary Jo Pedenon 15 Jun 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Kate, I was so sorry to hear of Silver Boy’s fate, its so disheartening. Since unfortunately, a high death toll will be part of the price paid for these birds to survive in an urban enviornment, its a consolation to know that there are lots of good people like yourself who will never ever give up the fight.

    I watched the female peregrine in Greentree today. She was under the tank and I did hear a lot of kacking. But then she went out and five minutes later came back with prey but ate it alone on the railing. I’ll continue to watch for awhile, since the water company wants to resume work there soon.

  64. Ramonaon 15 Jun 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I am so saddened to hear of this Kate.ramona

  65. Pa Galon 16 Jun 2013 at 8:53 am

    I just finished reading the article from the Post Gazette, and sit here with tears in my eyes. Silver Boy’s death is just so sad. The article indicates that E2 is around but that Dorothy hasn’t been seen since Friday. Does anybody know if that has changed? Has anybody seen her?

  66. Kate St. Johnon 16 Jun 2013 at 10:01 am

    Pa Gal, Dorothy had been seen at the nestbox since late afternoon Friday. I was interviewed by the Post-Gazette prior to that.

  67. Jennieon 16 Jun 2013 at 11:11 am

    I had the same concern as Pa Gal, and am glad to hear that Dorothy has been seen. Thanks, Kate.

  68. Cindy Lisiakon 16 Jun 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Kate,

    I am not a member of your group, but I have always been fascinated by all birds of prey. I learned about the Cathedral of Learning cam several years ago and have monitored it frequently. I was saddened by the death of the first chick. I was thrilled when Silver Boy hatched and began to grow. I was amused as I watched him biting Dorothy’s feet while she sat on the ledge watching him. Being an “only” he was kind of a brat (probably bored with no playmates), but she patiently put up with his antics. I think Dorothy and E2 represent all that good parents should be, regardless of species and I certainly can understand how you feel about them. Thank you for all your wonderful, informative blogs and photos. Through your eyes, I have learned so much I did not know about these incredible creatures and, as you said, got a chance to be part of their lives for a little while.

  69. Michelleon 16 Jun 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Kate, thank you so much for taking the time during a very tragic and traumatic event to quickly post the most salient details to help us understand what happened, including, most importantly, that SB had been lovingly attended to. Thank you also for your dedication to these amazing birds, which led to SB’s coverage in the PPG and other media, which will raise public awareness and appreciation even further. And although you and she know the reality of high juvenile mortality, I also like to think that somehow on a cosmic level the strength of your love for your most favorite falcon is helping Dorothy cope.

  70. debra kamperton 16 Jun 2013 at 10:38 pm

    dearest Kate and all-
    i was saddened to hear of the great loss you have experienced. i did not know of the live cam until someone mentioned what had happened to the Silver Boy. my thoughts and prayers are with you all. it would be nice if someone would put signs up even temporarily for the fledges. it would be nice if there were more caring people like you, too! God bless you all-

  71. Kristenon 17 Jun 2013 at 4:00 am

    I am so very sorry. (I’m just now catching up the news of the past few days.) Thank you very much for keeping us all informed about these—and other—delightful birds.

  72. Michelle, Colorado Springs, COon 17 Jun 2013 at 10:23 am

    Just seeing this sad, sad news. So sorry to hear Silver Boy didn’t make it. May he be in Peregrine heaven now. I know this may be Dorothy and E2’s last child taking into account Dorothy’s age.

  73. Karen Bon 17 Jun 2013 at 12:51 pm

    This is just so sad….watching them with Silver Boy was an amazing sight. Too many tears to write anything else.

  74. Ginny Burke-Kasperon 18 Jun 2013 at 3:47 am

    Dear Kate, I have just heard the sad news from my Mom in Pittsburgh. I was fortunate enough to have attended his banding in May and to see the little guy up close. I remember the excitement and awe generated when he was brought into the room in the little sack. These birds, in fact all birds, are such special creatures and just knowing that the number of Peregrine breeding pairs is growing in the Pittsburgh vicinity helps to makes the news a little less sad. I want to thank you for your blog and for keeping all of us updated.

  75. Tinaon 18 Jun 2013 at 9:08 am

    I had been away all weekend, and had not been keeping up on all the activity. I read this article and have been in tears. Such a sad story and way too early of an ending for that little guy. Thoughts are with you all!!

  76. Annetteon 19 Jun 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Dear Kate,
    Talking with you today was very comforting and gave me much needed closure on Silver Boy. Thank you for all that you do for the the peregrine falcons. And thank you for the hug 🙂 I’ve got the rfalcon cam bookmarked.

  77. Kate St. Johnon 20 Jun 2013 at 2:39 pm

    The Post-Gazette posted an update on their Opinion section today:

  78. Patimaon 27 Jun 2013 at 1:15 pm

    This so sad….People drive too fast…most of the time, we can avoid hitting wildlife on the street!

  79. Kate St. Johnon 27 Jun 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Patima, it’s possible that Silver Boy flew too low & fast over the street and slammed head first into a vehicle. We just don’t know. No one saw the accident.

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