Since He’s Been Gone

Dorothy leaves the nest after courting with E2, 15 June 2013 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh)

Since Silver Boy's death his parents have changed gears.  They're courting again.

In all my previous experience, Dorothy and E2 have always had other young to feed and teach after the death of a juvenile.  Dorothy would mourn for a day while E2 took care of the "kids."  Then Dorothy would pick up where she left off and family life would return to normal.

But this year with only one fledgling their parenting duties ended abruptly last Friday.  Instead of mourning they are courting.

When peregrines lose their entire clutch of eggs they immediately resume courtship and lay a second clutch within 14 days.  The earlier in the season this happens, the more likely the second clutch will succeed and fledge.  A complete and early loss of fledglings might trigger the courtship reaction.


On the afternoon of Silver Boy's death E2 invited Dorothy to bow with him at the nest.  As shown above she sometimes quit bowing before he did, but soon she got into the swing of things.  They've been courting several times a day.

Dorothy and E2 court on a rainy day in June (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh)


As she does before egg laying, Dorothy has begun hanging out at the nest.  Here she stands at the nest in an "egg-y" position. Yesterday I saw her dig the scrape.

Dorothy thinking about eggs, 15 June 2013 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh)


And she spent last night at the nest.

Dorothy spent the night at the nest, 17 June 2013 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh)


Will they raise a second family this year?  No.  There is no record of peregrines ever fledging two broods per year in North America.  Our young peregrines must become independent no later than September.  It takes four to five months to raise a peregrine from egg to self-sustaining juvenile.  There just isn't time.

And the sun will have its effect.  After this Friday's solstice the days will get shorter and Dorothy and E2's breeding hormones will decline.  Soon they'll stop courting and begin their summer life, lounging and molting.


(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh)

9 thoughts on “Since He’s Been Gone

  1. So interesting . . . when I first started today’s blog, I thought okay, great, another brood. But what you then say makes total sense — no time to get another set ready before fall. Nature is very smart.

  2. Kate, is there any news on the Westinghouse Bridge Fledgling? I almost forgot about him after Silver Boy’s tragedy. I did see three happy falcons at the Neville Island Bridge site yesterday morning, on the far Glenfield side. They were perched together on the abutment in the sun; I’m not sure if they were all the fledglings, or if one adult was present. Certainly one larger female was there, but she didn’t look as dark as Magnum!

    1. Carolyn, on June 11 workmen found the Westinghouse fledgling standing on the ground so they put him up high on a bridge abutment. (They had lift trucks because they were working on another bridge.) The fledgling has not been seen since though John English & others have been looking for days.

  3. Kate, Like Carolyn I saw on Monday 6:30pm all three of the I79 Neville Island bridge fledglings on the bridge abutment railing. They were nicely lined up on the railing. Not for long though for they one by one took to flight up into the arch of the bridge. It was an enjoyably sight to see them doing well. Their landing skills need some work but their flying skills were quite good. One of them took a wide sweeping high flight a couple hundred yards up the river and back. One of the adults pursued on the return flight swooping down on the little guy startling him momentarily. All in fun is my guess. At one point an adult took off upstream soon followed by one of the juveniles. They both went out of site but the juvie soon was seen coming back. I was hoping to see the adult come back with food but I had to leave after being there for an hour.

    Also, while I was quietly watching by the Fairfield sign a Gray Catbird made an appearance just a few feet away in the bush on the other side of the railing I was standing behind. Right after him a song sparrow hoped on the railing 10 feet to the other side of me and started singing. All in all a good peaceful hour of birding.


    1. Thanks, Gene and Carolyn. It’s nice to hear that the Neville family is doing well!

  4. Hi Kate,

    I have watched the peregrine drama at the Cathedral unfold for the first time this year. I am sad that things have turned out the way they have with the loss of all the chicks. I wish them success next year, and I will be watching.

    Will they replace the video camera at the Cathedral? It is quite a terrible picture.


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