Mar 26 2014


Published by at 7:30 am under Peregrines

Dorothy preening, 25 Mar 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy laid her first egg on March 20.  It appears to be her last and she is not incubating it.

In her prime Dorothy laid an egg every 2.5 days until she completed a clutch of four or five.  She always hatched all or all-but-one.

Last year her age began to show.  Her time between eggs was prolonged, three eggs did not hatch, and one of the hatchlings was too handicapped to live.

Back in 2010 I wrote about what happens when female peregrines age (click here).  Dorothy is now 15, two years older than the average adult life expectancy of 13.  So we're learning something.

Yesterday Mary DeVaughn coined the term "hen-o-pause" on the Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook page.  I don't know if birds experience anything like menopause but it explains Dorothy's solo egg and her lack of desire to incubate.

She's certainly the right age for "hen-o-pause."


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



16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Hen-o-pause”

  1. Gailon 26 Mar 2014 at 8:52 am

    There have been a few times it looked like Dorothy was really trying to lay another egg.

  2. Laurenon 26 Mar 2014 at 9:03 am

    I saw E2 incubating the egg around 7am this morning, and it looks like at 9am that Dorothy is now incubating..So here’s to hoping..

  3. Kate St. Johnon 26 Mar 2014 at 9:05 am

    Gail, yes, Dorothy has looked like she would lay another egg … but she hasn’t for five days. Humans in menopause have irregular fertility and then it stops altogether. Dorothy’s egg laying is quite irregular. It may have stopped altogether.

  4. Larisaon 26 Mar 2014 at 10:46 am

    Kate – I was looking at a video that Peter Bell posted on the FalcoNuts page. ( It made me wonder – because it wasn’t passed outside the rail, and because of the unusual color – if this wasn’t a failed/overly-fragile egg?

  5. Janet Campagnaon 26 Mar 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Having been there myself, I can sympathize with Dorothy. Is there any point where they could retrieve the egg for study?

  6. Kate St. Johnon 26 Mar 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Janet, at banding all the unhatched eggs are retrieved but there is little to no money for studies at this stage in the peregrine falcon’s recovery from extinction in eastern North America.

  7. Supriyaon 26 Mar 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Can you post or point me to ways by which I can identify Dorothy from E2?

  8. Kate St. Johnon 26 Mar 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Supriya, here’s the Who’s Who for the Cathedral of Learning nest.
    Now that E2 is older, he has a little less white where his beak meets his face but he also has paler feathers on his back and a whiter chest. And he’s a lot more active than Dorothy: more movement & more quickly.

    Check my Peregrine FAQs page for information on Dori & Louie too.

  9. Gintarason 26 Mar 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Looks kinda sad…but all WE getting older too…

    I think, she was trying very hard…well…You can’t go against nature….

  10. Suzanneon 26 Mar 2014 at 9:38 pm

    So true, it’s very sad. As Gintaras said, we are all getting older one day at a time, and must move aside for the next generation. Sometimes reality bites, and for us, this is one of those times.

    Kate St. John, I’m grateful for this blog and the information about the falcons I’ve found here. Thank you.

  11. Janet Campagnaon 27 Mar 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Personally, I hope a new generation will continue to use this great nest. Or what’s the fight against extinction all about? If Dorothy thinks “Hey, I’m getting too old for this”, she’s earned her retirement. Meanwhile, there’s the the Gulf Tower family. The Hays eagles, etc. When I lived in Pgh. In the 70’s, no birds like this were there.

  12. JTon 28 Mar 2014 at 12:04 pm

    The webcam on the Pitt nest is so very sad. I guess we think another female will turn up at this nest next year? It would be too awful if Dorothy has to fight to the death for this nest like last year.

  13. Kate St. Johnon 28 Mar 2014 at 12:17 pm

    A new female is likely to show up but we don’t know what Dorothy will do. Will she fight to the death? Or decide to leave? We just don’t know.

  14. Suzanneon 28 Mar 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I cannot believe that E2 won’t be able to entice another female to this successful nest.

    Will Dorothy stick around to fight for it? Only time will tell.

  15. Lindaon 26 May 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Why don’t someone take the egg away Dorthy?

  16. Kate St. Johnon 26 May 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Linda, the Game Commission will probably take the egg away. I don’t know when.

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