Archive for June, 2013

Jun 04 2013

Fledged? Yes!

Published by under Peregrines

Pitt fledgling, 3 June 2013 (photo by Peter Bell)

Monday was a down-and-up day.

The weather started out "down," cold and cloudy.  Around 7:00am Peter Bell texted me that he thought Dorothy and E2's chick had fledged at Pitt.  This information was followed by almost four hours of confusion.

At 7:20am I was on Forbes Ave at CMU and could see Dorothy and E2 on the nest side of the Cathedral of Learning staring intently into the gully.  If their youngster had fledged, why were they looking in the gully?  Peter walked around the building and couldn't find the fledgling.  Did he fly?

We both had work to do so the suspense remained until Peter went back to the Plaza at 11:00am.  By then it was obvious.  Baby had fledged.  He was perched on the west 25th floor ledge.  Things were looking up.

That's where he stayed all day.  Kim Getz saw him from inside the building at lunchtime and sent this photo from her zoom camera.  (She was careful to stand far back from the window so he wouldn't notice her and be startled into flight. Thank you, Kim!)

Young fledgling chilling on 25 west, 3 June 2013 (photo by Kim Getz)


At 7:00pm the sky cleared and Dorothy brought dinner in an amazing aerobatic display.  They shared the meal, then she gave him a flight demonstration and perched were she could watch his area.  He walked back to a quiet corner to roost on 25.

Here they are at dinner time: Baby on left, Dorothy on right.  He's not such a "baby" anymore.

Pitt fledgling and Dorothy, 3 June 2013 (photo by Peter Bell)


The day ended "up."

Come see him at Fledge Watch today at the Schenley Plaza tent:  noon to 2:00pm and 5:30pm to 7:00pm.

(first and last photos by Peter Bell. Middle photo by Kim Getz)


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Jun 03 2013

Peregrine News Around Town

Published by under Peregrines

Baby on the nestrail, 1 June 2013 (photo by Steve Petricca)

At the Cathedral of Learning:

As of yesterday, June 2, Dorothy and E2's chick hadn't fledged but he's getting his exercise. On Saturday Steve Petricca digiscoped a closeup of him on the nestrail with a watchful look on his face.

On Sunday the weather was gorgeous but too windy for first time fliers.  Baby eventually flapped on the nestrail (click here for Sharon Leadbitter's video), Dorothy kited in the wind, and E2 pulled off a hiding trick by disappearing into the fretwork.  Can you find him in Max Moritz Terry's photo below?

E2 perched in his "hiding" window (photo by Max Moritz Terry)


Downtown Pittsburgh:

Friday night a juvenile peregrine was found on Smithfield Street (perhaps on the sidewalk) and was rescued by a firefighter who kept him overnight at the station.  The Game Commission released him after dawn on Saturday.  This is the third rescue from this nest this year.  I wonder if this one was a "repeat offender" or the third bird who fledged last Thursday.

Later on Saturday the fourth and last Downtown nestling fledged at 1:55pm. Donna Memon created a video hotspot in the WildEarth archives that shows the bird taking off.  Click here, start the video and then click on the Archives tab to see the hotspots list.


Westinghouse Bridge:

Great news!  When Dan Brauning and Art McMorris visited the bridge in mid-May they thought the 10-day old chick looked handicapped and wouldn't survive, but PennDOT checked on him last week and he's thriving.  John English monitors the site and is excited to begin Fledge Watch June 13-ish.


Green Tree Water Tower:

Both birds are still present though their nest has failed.  The male is unbanded but Shannon Thompson is working hard to read the female's bands.  The female gets tantalizingly close to revealing her identity ... but doesn't.  Look at her hide her bands while raising her foot as if to show them off!  Sneaky.

Female peregrine at Green Tree water tower (photo by Shannon Thompson)


Neville Island I-79 Bridge:

The three nestlings are due to fledge beginning June 6.   Fledge Watch starts June 5.  Click here for directions.


Thanks to everyone for all your photos and observations of Pittsburgh's peregrines!


(photos by Steve Petricca, Max Moritz Terry and Shannon Thompson)

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Jun 02 2013

This One Is OK

Published by under Plants

kate_w_cow_parsnip_20130601_rsz4_diannemKate St. John next to Cow Parsnip (photo by Dianne Machesney)

Long ago I learned, "Look but don't touch."  This is a good rule of thumb when you're not sure of what you're looking at outdoors.

Yesterday I attended the Wissahickon Nature Club's annual picnic at Mingo Creek County Park.  At Wissahickon we're all curious about nature.  Some know birds best, some know plants, others know insects, so our outings are really informative.  We examine everything, we teach each other, we look up the mysteries, and we all learn something.

Yesterday I learned about cow parsnip, a large plant that I had largely ignored.  Here I am standing next to it.  Notice that I'm not touching it.  That's a good thing if you're not sure what it is!

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum) is a native member of the parsley family.  Though it's a good plant and was used medicinally by Native Americans, it looks a lot like giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), an invasive plant from Eurasia that's so toxic it causes nasty skin rashes if you merely brush against it.  With so many botanists in the group I knew this plant was safe.

The umbels of cow parsnip and giant hogweed look similar to the untrained eye.  The flower is large and pretty.

Cow Parsnip flower umbel (photo by Dianne Machesney)


The real difference between the good plant and the bad one is that the stems and sheaths of cow parsnip are green.

Leaf sheath on Cow Parsnip (photo by Dianne Machesney)


This green sheath is good (cow parsnip).   The bad one, giant hogweed, has purple splotches on its stem and sheaths and thick hairs at the leaf joint (but who wants to get that close!).  Interestingly, poison hemlock, another bad member of the parsley family, also has purple splotches on its stem.

Rule of thumb in this case: green is good, purple is bad.

But the real rule of thumb is Look But Don't Touch.

...which explains why I'm overdressed on a hot day.  I always wear long pants, long sleeves, a hat, and sunscreen outdoors.  You can't see my ankles but my socks are pulled over my pant legs to keep out ticks.  This outfit saves me a lot of itchy aggravation later.

We may look odd, but ask us about cow parsnip and we'll tell you, "This one is OK."


p.s. See the Comments for further discussion.


(photos by Dianne Machesney)

11 responses so far

Jun 01 2013

Up Before Dawn

Published by under Peregrines

Baby is up and out before dawn (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at University of Pittsburgh)

The sun rose at 5:52am this morning but our young peregrine is so active and ready to fly that he was out of the nest before dawn.

This snapshot at 5:39:58 was the last before he hopped up to the nestrail and out of view.

His mother can tell this will be a busy day of babysitting!


...Meanwhile at dawn at the Downtown nest, the last chick (probably female) was still waiting to fly. Anne Marie Bosnyak saw two of her three siblings and both parents Downtown last evening.


UPDATE at 6:44am:  Heavy rain messed up his plans.  He's temporarily rained out.
Baby's plans got rained out (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)


UPDATE at 8:30pm:  The weather was surprisingly good today.  At Fledge Watch (4:00pm-6:00pm) Baby exercised his wings on the nestrail but did not fledge.  Dorothy and E2 provided some amazing flight demonstrations in the wind.


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

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