May 18 2017

Peregrines at Two Bridges

Published by at 7:15 am under Nesting & Courtship,Peregrines

McKees Rocks Bridge (photo by Robert Strovers on Wikimedia Commons)

McKees Rocks Bridge (photo by Robert Strovers via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

On Wednesday May 17, Dan Brauning and Tom Keller of the Pennsylvania Game Commission checked for peregrine nests at the McKees Rocks and Neville Island I-79 bridges.


McKees Rocks Bridge:

Four peregrine chicks at McKees Rocks Bridge (photo by Tom Keller)

Four peregrine chicks at McKees Rocks Bridge (photo by Tom Keller)

With PennDOT’s help and a bucket truck, Dan and Tom found four nestlings too young to band at the McKees Rocks Bridge.  About 15 days old, they were so young that their sex could not be determined by weight.  Their nest site didn’t have a place for the chicks to practice flapping before fledging so Dan and Tom relocated them to a safer location nearby. Their mother came close to defend them. Dan noticed that she’s unbanded.


Neville Island I-79 Bridge:

Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Robert Strovers via Wikimedia Commons)

At the Neville Island I-79 Bridge, Dan, Tom and PennDOT staff walked the catwalk all the way to the Glenfield side before they found the nest.  The nest was so far away that the five of us who came to observe the banding missed the entire show.  All we saw was the adult male peregrine strafing the bridge in the distance.

Dan and Tom found and banded four chicks about 21 days old: three females and one male.  The mother peregrine stayed near her chicks the whole time.  Even in this small photo you can read her bands (black/red 62/H), confirming that she’s Magnum from Canton, Ohio in 2010.  (*)

Magnum protects her chicks at the Neville Island Bridge, 17 Mat 2017 (photo by Tom Keller)

Magnum protects her chicks at the Neville Island Bridge, 17 Mat 2017 (photo by Tom Keller)


(bridge photos by Robert Strover via Wikimedia Commons.  Peregrine photos by Tom Keller, PA Game Commission)

(*) p.s. Magnum has been at the Neville Island I-79 Bridge since 2013.

19 responses so far

19 Responses to “Peregrines at Two Bridges”

  1. Luannon 18 May 2017 at 7:40 am

    I’m glad to see Magnum found a home and had some chicks. There’s a lot of females born this year. Will they attempt to band the McKees Rock chicks later?

  2. Kate St. Johnon 18 May 2017 at 7:42 am

    Luann, Magnum has been at Neville Island I-79 since 2013. … No, they will not return to McKees Rocks to band them later.

  3. Janeton 18 May 2017 at 7:51 am

    Kate, thanks so much for the info!!! Did they get to band the chicks at Neville Island or was Magnum too close? Also, will we ever know where C1 ended up?

  4. Janeton 18 May 2017 at 7:54 am

    Sorry Kate, I just saw where they banded them. Didn’t Magnum try to fight them off? Looks scary.

  5. Kate St. Johnon 18 May 2017 at 8:14 am

    Magnum fights by getting in the way and shouting. She did her best!

  6. Sarah Lynnon 18 May 2017 at 11:12 am

    These are wonderful pictures.

  7. Gail Meisteron 18 May 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Any info from the Westinghouse Bridge? I saw peregrines there earlier in the spring.

  8. Kate St. Johnon 18 May 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Gary, there won’t be a banding at Westinghouse. It is unclear whether they’re nesting.

  9. Judi Mitchellon 19 May 2017 at 7:35 am

    Thanks for all this info on the PEFA’s Kate. it’s been a good year in Pittsburgh for our peregrines. I hope to figure out where i can keep an eye on the Westinghouse bridge from Turtle Creek side since i live close. Any suggestions on where to park appreciated!

  10. Kate St. Johnon 19 May 2017 at 7:40 am

    Judi, here’s info on Westinghouse viewing spots. This site needs more monitors so please contact John English ( and report what you see. Here’s a map of 3 viewing locations.
    The best one is Elder Street (yellow X). Note: The railroad forbids access under the bridge.

  11. Robinon 19 May 2017 at 10:32 am

    Did the safer location at the McKees Rocks bridge have a scrape/rocks for the chicks? Did the mother peregrine find them at the new spot? Is it OK to move them like that?

  12. Kate St. Johnon 19 May 2017 at 3:42 pm

    The safer location is in the picture. You can see black substrate — which isn’t critically needed at this point because it’s needed during incubation. Moving nearby: It is safe to move them nearby because they will call and their parents will hear and come. Peregrines have noisy nestlings for this reason. (If you’ve been to a Fledge Watch you’ve heard how they call their parents.)

  13. Mary Ann Pikeon 19 May 2017 at 10:34 am

    Any news from the Tarentum Bridge where the unbanded female had apparently taken Hope’s old spot?

  14. Kate St. Johnon 19 May 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Now news from Tarentum. It is unclear whether they’re nesting.

  15. Janeton 19 May 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Hi kate, I was wondering if you or anybody else has seen Hope lately. I started watching the cam around 3:00 pm but I have not see her or Terzo. The chicks were really yelling awhile ago as if they were hungry. I so worry about them, because you never know what Hope is going to do. Thanks.

  16. Kate St. Johnon 19 May 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Janet, an adult fed the chicks at 5:55pm and at 6:25pm, 80 and 50 minutes before you posted your question.

  17. Janeton 19 May 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks Kate, I really appreciate it.

  18. Kristenon 22 May 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Hey Kate!

    So on top of the Gulf Tower and Cathedral, I have been following the Harrisburg falcons this year; their cameras are amazing! I am hoping you can help answer a question for me. After their banding day, this was posted:

    “The first male weighed in at 585 grams and has a red tape; the blue tape is on the band the other male that weighed 595 grams; and white tape on the 585 gram nestling of undetermined sex”

    So much question is about the undetermined sex of the white tape chick. If they determine the sex by weight, why would they be unsure about this one?

    I know you don’t normally post about Harrisburg, but I was hoping you could help me out on this one! Thanks!

  19. Kate St. Johnon 22 May 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Kristen, the last chick might be much younger than the others (I seem to remember that happened somewhere, maybe Harrisburg?). Young chicks all weigh pretty much the same so their sex cannot be determined by weight.

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