Archive for the 'Nesting & Courtship' Category

Jun 10 2017

Hays Bald Eagles: H7 Will Fly Soon!

Now that Peregrine Season is over I finally have time to visit other nests.  Yesterday I stopped by the Hays Eagle Viewing Area on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and was happy to find Eaglestreamer (Wendy) on site.  She filled me in on all the latest news.

The bald eagle chick, H7, walked off the nest on June 2 and has been branching ever since.  In this June 4 video you can see both adults standing by while H7 does some wing exercises.  Like all bald eagle chicks H7 is dark brown and hard to see with wings closed.

Meanwhile the adults are very attentive but have changed their behavior in small ways that are similar to peregrine fledge-time.  For instance, they sometimes take more time to deliver food by flying past the juvenile with prey in their talons.

Very soon — any day now — H7 will fly for the first time.  Eagle fans are on the trail every day, awaiting that exciting moment.  Stop by and join them. Click here for directions.

Observers at the Hays Bald Eagle Viewing Area, 9 June 2017 (photo by Kate St. John)

Observers at the Hays Bald Eagle Viewing Area, 9 June 2017 (photo by Kate St. John)

If you can’t make it to the trail, here are some ways to enjoy eagle watching from afar.

Exciting days ahead!

 

(video by Eaglestreamer on YouTube, photo by Kate St. John)

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Jun 02 2017

Flap & Fledge News, Jun 2

One chick flaps while the other two look upside down (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

One chick flaps while the other two look at her upside down (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

News from the two on-camera peregrine nests in Pittsburgh:

Cathedral of Learning:

The Pitt peregrine youngsters began flapping this morning before dawn.  Soon they’ll walk off camera and up to the take-off zone where they’ll spend a couple of days building their wing muscles.  They won’t be visible on camera but you can see them from Fledge Watch– June 2 to 6.

  • Visit the Events page for the Fledge Watch schedule, cancellation updates (when needed) and information on parking, food & maps at Schenley Plaza.
  • Here’s a photo and description of where the young birds go off camera before they fly.

 

Gulf Tower:

One juvenile at the Gulf Tower nest before dawn, 2 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

One juvenile at the Gulf Tower nest before dawn, 2 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

This morning at dawn I saw one peregrine youngster perched at the nest.  She flew shortly after this snapshot.

Last night I was in a long meeting and didn’t see a comment posted to my blog until nearly 11p (4 hours after it happened).  In the comment John wrote, “Right now there is a Peregrine on Grant street by the Federal building. Animal control is there. It is banded. This is as of 6:30pm 6/1.”

The young peregrine was probably standing on the sidewalk and needed human assistance to get up to a high perch and start over.  The bird was already in good hands when John posted the comment so I’m not worried.  I will hear more eventually and post the update here.

UPDATE, 8:15am: This morning Lori Maggio looked for the fledglings and says she may have seen all three, though she’s not sure.

 

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

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Jun 01 2017

Off Camera! Where Do They Go?

The entire peregrine family at the Gulf Tower, 31 May 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

The entire peregrine family at the Gulf Tower, 31 May 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

At this stage of development, the Gulf Tower peregrines are learning to fly and the Pitt peregrines are walking off the nest.  Are they in trouble when you can’t see them?  No, they’re fine.  Here’s where they go.

 

Gulf Tower:

Three peregrine chicks on the Gulf Tower, 31 may 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Three peregrine chicks on the Gulf Tower, 31 may 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Yesterday, May 31, Lori Maggio stopped by the Fledge Watch site and found all five peregrines at home on the Gulf Tower.

In the photo at top, the two parents are circled on the left, three youngsters circled at various levels on the right.

The closeup points out the three juveniles.  The one at the top fledged to the observation deck level on Tuesday and is flapping in preparation for her next flight.  She flew toward the USX Tower where Lori lost sight of her.

Last evening two chicks came back to the nest to spend the night but left today at dawn and might never return.  This morning Lori reports that all three had fledged by 7:30am.  Woo hoo!

Why don’t peregrines come back to the nest forever?  The nest is the babies’ crib.  When youngsters graduate to a bigger life, they don’t want to come back to the crib.   Human children are like that, too.

 

Cathedral of Learning:

A Pitt peregrine chick looks at a sibling in the gully, 31 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

A Pitt peregrine chick looks at a sibling in the gully, 31 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

One week younger than the Gulf Tower chicks, the youngsters at the Cathedral of Learning are just starting to ledge walk and disappear from camera view.  Are they safe?  Yes.

Yesterday afternoon one of them explored below the nest while the others watched (shown above).  There’s a lot of floor space below the nest with walls all around so there’s no way a young bird can fall.  As happens every year, the youngster gets bored and walks/jumps back up to the nest surface.  Of course she does. That’s where the food is!

In the days ahead the youngsters will also walk up to the nest rail and jump over to the keyhole.  Here’s a description of where they go, complete with ledge walking photos.

Question: What is Ledge Walking?

 

To fulfill their destiny these birds have to fly.  And to fly they have to leave the camera’s view.

It’s a big world out there.  It’s time for them to go.

 

(photos of the Gulf Tower peregrines by Lori Maggio.  nest photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the Cathedral of Learning)

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May 31 2017

Gulf Tower Fledgling Update, May 30

Two chicks at Gulf Tower nest, 30 May 2017 at 7:39pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Two chicks at Gulf Tower nest, 30 May 2017 at 7:39pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Yesterday at Gulf Tower Fledge Watch it appeared that one, maybe two, of the peregrine chicks had fledged.  I found one chick off camera on the same level as the nest.  Where were the other two?

I used this clue: Find the parents and look where they are looking.  Yesterday Dori and Louie often perched just above the observation deck and stared at the deck floor.  I wondered if one or both were there.

Last evening Anne Marie Bosynak stopped by Flag Plaza and saw all three youngsters.  One had fledged to the observation deck area.  (Aha!)  The other two were on the nest level.

By 7:30pm two birds were back on camera.  This morning all three are off camera again. They will probably fly today.

I won’t be holding a Gulf Tower Fledge Watch but if you’re downtown keep your eyes on the sky and on nearby buildings.  The Gulf Tower peregrine chicks are learning to fly.

 

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower)

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May 30 2017

Why Peregrines Don’t Fledge In The Rain

Gulf Tower peregrine nest on a wet morning, 27 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Gulf Tower peregrine nest on a wet morning, 27 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Why do I cancel Fledge Watch if it’s raining?  Am I just a wimp about getting wet?

No.  It’s because there’s nothing to see.  Young peregrines avoid flying in the rain.

On a peregrine’s first flight he needs some wind — not too much! — and an updraft to hold him up.  He also needs to be in good flight condition with strong muscles and dry feathers.

Wet feathers are heavy and make it hard to fly.  Birds know this instinctively so they wait until they’ve dried off.

Bird rehabbers know this, too.  When a young peregrine is rescued from the street, the rescuer wets him down before putting him out on a high ledge to start over.  Wet feathers prevent the rescued peregrine from leaping out of the rescuers hands.

There is one exception to this first flight rule.  When there’s danger at the nest, peregrine chicks of this age will fly, even in poor conditions, even if they’ve never flown before — but it can end badly in a crash.

What danger could there be at a city nest?  Humans!  We are the peregrines’ #1 enemy.  That’s why it’s important for all of us to stay away from peregrine nests and the windows that look out on them during these last days before first flight.

 

p.s.  Today, Tuesday May 30, there is no chance of rain and the peregrines haven’t flown yet so …  I’ll be at Gulf Tower Fledge Watch, 11:30a-1:30p, on the sidewalk leading up to the Pennsylvanian railroad station.  Details here.

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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May 28 2017

Gulf Tower Fledge Watch Update, May 26 & 27

Gulf Tower, location of nest as seen from Flag Plaza (photo by John English)

Gulf Tower, location of nest as seen from Flag Plaza (photo by John English)

Yes!  Gulf Tower Fledge Watch at Flag Plaza today, Sunday May 28, 11:30a to 1:30p.

Yesterday, Saturday May 27, I stuck to my plan but I missed some fun.

It rained in the morning so I didn’t plan to hold a Gulf Tower Fledge Watch at Flag Plaza.  However, the rain stopped by noon so John English, John Bauman and Anne Marie Bosnyak went over to see what was up.  Here are John English’s pictures.

At top is the view of the Gulf Tower with the nest area circled in yellow.  It’s very easy to see the peregrines with binoculars.  John took these photos through his scope.

Below, one peregrine chick perches on the pillar near the nest.  You can see the falconcam from Flag Plaza.

One young peregrine perched on the pillar at the Gulf Tower nest (photo by John English)

One young peregrine perched on the pillar at the Gulf Tower nest (photo by John English)

 

Louie, circled top left, and Dori, circled at right, watch over the “kids” at the nest (yellow square) as fledging time approaches.  They’re waiting for the next step:

When a chick flies for the first time one of the parents, usually the male, follows the chick to its landing place and makes sure it’s safe.  If all is well, the parent brings food to the chick at its new perch.  To us humans it looks like food is the reward for a job well done.

Both peregrine parents watch the 'kids' as fledging time approaches (photo by John English)

Both peregrine parents watch the ‘kids’ as fledging time approaches (photo by John English)

 

My reluctance to vary Saturday’s Watch schedule was due to my experience on Friday May 26.

The weather forecast said the rain would end around 11am but it was still pouring at 11:15a so I posted to Twitter and Facebook that I wouldn’t be Downtown until noon.  Unfortunately, Margaret was already on her way and wondered where I was when she arrived at 11:30a.  She sat out the rain under the railroad station portico, out of sight of the sidewalk were I set up my scope at noon.

After the drizzle stopped, Janine and Barb stopped over from the Federal Building around 1pm.  We were thrilled to see Louie hunting close by as he dove on two mourning doves near the Federated Investors building.  The doves escaped.  Whoosh!

Margaret found us at 1:15pm.  It started to rain hard at 1:30pmso Fledge Watch ended.

Fortunately, the weather looks good today and tomorrow so I’ll be at Flag Plaza both days, 11:30a to 1:30p.

 

(photos by John English, Pittsburgh Falconuts)

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May 26 2017

First Robins Have Fledged

Fledgling American robin in D.C. (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Fledgling American robin in D.C. (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

On May 23 I saw my neighborhood’s first American robin fledgling of 2017.

He’s the same size as his parents but has a speckled chest, almost no tail (his tail hadn’t grown in yet), and a loud voice.  He follows his mother around my backyard.  When she walks three paces, he walks three paces.  He maintains his distance, begging periodically, until she has food in her beak.  Then he rushes at her to get it.

In four weeks, around June 20, he’ll become independent.  Meanwhile his mother will build another nest, lay, incubate and hatch another brood.  If she’s quick about it they’ll fledge five weeks after he did, around June 27.

Robins raise two or three broods per year and though only one or two survive per nest it’s enough to keep their population booming.

 

(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)

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May 24 2017

Looking Speckled

Cathedral of Learning chicks, 23 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Cathedral of Learning chicks, 23 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

At 29 days old, the peregrine falcon chicks at the Cathedral of Learning look different than they did a week ago on Banding Day.  Their juvenile feathers now give them a speckled brown-and-white appearance.

For comparison, here’s what they looked like on May 16.

Cathedral of Learning peregrine chicks, 16 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Cathedral of Learning peregrine chicks, 16 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Even though they’re older they still act like baby birds.  They sleep on their bellies and whine at their parents.  In the photo at top, two chicks shout at one of their parents while a third sleeps on her belly.  When they shout like this, one of the parents is perched above them out of reach.  😉

 

Meanwhile at the Gulf Tower …

Three peregrine chicks at the Gulf Tower, 23 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Three peregrine chicks at the Gulf Tower, 23 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

… the peregrine chicks are a week older (35 days old) and already look quite brown.  When they’re not sleeping or eating they spend time pulling white down from their bodies.

The transformation is amazing.  Here’s what they looked like a week ago.

Gulf tower peregrine chicks, 16 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Gulf tower peregrine chicks, 16 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

The Gulf Tower youngsters will fly by the end of the month so come on down to Fledge Watch at midday, May 26-30, to see them getting ready to go.  Click here for date, time and location.

Keep an eye on the sky and check the Events page before you come Downtown!  Fledge Watch is a fair weather event so I will cancel if it’s raining. (Ugh! Rain is predicted all weekend.)

 

p.s. Yes, there will be a Fledge Watch for the Cathedral of Learning peregrines — probably June 2-6 — but I haven’t scheduled it yet.

(photos from the National Aviary falconcams at University of Pittsburgh and Gulf Tower)

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May 18 2017

Peregrines at Two Bridges

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.

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May 17 2017

Three Female Chicks Banded at Gulf Tower

Female peregrine chick at the Gulf Tower banding, 16 May 2017 (photo by John English)

Female peregrine chick at the Gulf Tower banding, 16 May 2017 (photo by John English)

Yesterday afternoon three female peregrine chicks were banded at the Gulf Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh. It was quite a media event with videos from KDKA and the Post-Gazette, linked below.

Here’s the story in pictures.

Before the banding, Dori guarded her nestlings. This blind is always closed except on Banding Day.  Dori knows something is up.

Dori and three chicks at the Gulf Tower nest. This window blind is closed during nestsing season, only opened on Banding Day (photo by Kate St. John)

Dori and three chicks at the Gulf Tower nest, 16 May 2017. This window blind is closed during nesting season. It is only opened on Banding Day (photo by Kate St. John)

 

As the banders came out on the ledge, Lori Maggio took photos from the ground.  Here Dan Brauning, lead bander and Wildlife Diversity Chief at the PA Game Commission, holds up his hand so Dori can’t get too close.

Dan Brauning holds up his hand so that Dori won't his his back. Banding Day at the Gulf Tower, 16 May 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Dan Brauning holds up his hand so that Dori won’t hit his back. Banding Day at the Gulf Tower, 16 May 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

 

This chick waits patiently though she wasn’t always quiet.

Female peregrine chick st Gulf Tower banding, 16 May 2017 (photo by John English)

Female peregrine chick at Gulf Tower banding, 16 May 2017 (photo by John English)

 

The process is set up like an assembly line to minimize the time the chicks are indoors.

Banding Day at Gulf Tower, 16 May 2017. Each chick awaits the next step (photo by John English)

Banding Day at Gulf Tower, 16 May 2017. Each chick awaits the next step (photo by John English)

 

Dan Brauning applied the bands …

Banding one of the three female chicks at the Gulf Tower, 16 May 2017 (photo by John English)

Banding one of the three female chicks at the Gulf Tower, 16 May 2017 (photo by John English)

 

… then each chick got a health check from the National Aviary‘s Dr. Pilar Fish with assistance from Teri R.

Dr. Pilar Fish and Teri from the National Aviary check the health of each chick (photo by Kate St. John)

Dr. Pilar Fish and Teri R. from the National Aviary check the health of each chick (photo by Kate St. John)

 

You may recall that one unhatched egg remained at the nest.  The PA Game Commission collected it for routine chemical tests to provide a data point in the decades-long recovery of peregrine falcons.

Dan Brauning collected the unhatched egg so it can undergo routine chemical tests (photo by Kate St. John)

Dan Brauning collected the unhatched egg so it can undergo routine chemical tests (photo by Kate St. John)

 

As the chicks were returned to the nest, Dori and Louie dove and kakked.

Dori and Louie fly near the nest as the chicks are returned at th Gulf Tower (photo by Lori Maggio)

Dori and Louie fly nearby as their chicks are returned to the Gulf Tower nest (photo by Lori Maggio)

And then Dori resumed guard duty.

Dori guards the chicks from the perch above the nest (photo by John English)

Dori guards the chicks (photo by John English)

 

(photos by Kate St. John, John English and Lori Maggio)

Click on the links below for video coverage of the Gulf Tower banding on 16 May 2017.

From KDKA:

Gulf Tower’s Peregrine Falcon Chicks Banded, Given Check-Up

 

From the Post-Gazette:

Peregrine falcon chick gets a check-up

Dr. Pilar Fish, a veterinarian from the National Aviary, examines a 27-day-old peregrine falcon after Pennsylvania Game Commission bands the chick at the Gulf Tower. (Video by Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)

Posted by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday, May 16, 2017

 

 

 

 

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