Category Archives: Nesting & Courtship

Happy Friday

We’re taking a break from peregrine drama with the cutest owls on the planet.

This video of young burrowing owls was sent as a Thank You from Cornell Lab of Ornithology to its contributors in 2016.

Enjoy!  And happy Friday!

 

(video from Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

p.s. In case you’re not familiar with Cornell Lab … they’re a unit of Cornell University that works to advance the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds.  We, and the birds, have all benefited from their work.

You’ve probably used at least one of their online tools or participated in their programs:  All About Birds website, eBird, the Merlin ID app, online bird ID classes (new class this month on Warbler ID!), nestcams & feeder cams, Great Backyard Bird Count, Project Feeder Watch,  … to name a few.

Read more about Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s workJoin them here.

Two Chicks!

Hope and two chicks, 6:34am 19 April 2018
Hope and two chicks, 6:34am 19 April 2018

Thursday April 19, 2018 at 7:30am.

Yes, there’s an exclamation point in the title!  The suspense is over.  Out of four hatched eggs, Hope killed two chicks and spared two.  (Click here for Hope’s history of killing her young.)

The 4th egg:

Last night at 11:15pm Hope pulled an eggshell from the nest beneath her.  We knew the 4th egg had hatched but no one could see if the chick was OK.  Hope gave us a hint last night when she stepped aside at 3am and revealed two chicks (below).

Hope and 2 chicks at 3am, 19 April 2018 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Hope and 2 chicks at 3am, 19 April 2018 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

We saw them clearly when Terzo brought food at dawn. At top, Hope leaves to get the food. And here Terzo arrives to brood them while she’s gone. (Typically the mother peregrine eats a little, then brings the rest back to feed the babies.)

Terzo arrives to brood 2 chicks, 19 April 2018, 6:37a (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Terzo arrives to brood 2 chicks, 19 April 2018, 6:37a (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Every year after hatching is over, Hope becomes a good mother.  She fledged 1 youngster in 2016 and 3 in 2017.

So the coast is clear. Whew!

A word about naming the chicks:

At Pittsburgh’s on-camera sites we use a naming scheme similar to that used at bald eagle nests: a letter for the location plus the hatch number.  The Cathedral of Learning is “C” and last year’s chicks were C6 to C8 so this year’s chicks are C9 and C10.

 

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

Waiting For The Coast To Clear

Terzo watches as Hope feeds the chick, 17 April 2018, 4:56pm (photo from National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ. of Pittsburgh)
Terzo watches as Hope feeds the chick, 17 April 2018, 4:56pm (photo from National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Wednesday April 18, 2018, 7:40am:

Yesterday was hatch day at the Cathedral of Learning nest but it was not a happy day.  As the female peregrine Hope has done in the past, she killed and ate some of her young as they hatched.  The status right now is:

  • April 17, 8:10am: As the first egg began to hatch, Hope picked up the chick, killed and ate it. Her back was to the camera.
  • April 17, 9:07am: As the second egg began to hatch, Hope opened the egg, killed and ate the chick in full camera view.
  • April 17, 1:35pm: Terzo was on the eggs. Hope arrived and chirped for him to leave.  She opened the 3rd egg, picked up the chick and carried it, but did not kill it.  Hope eventually brooded the chick and the remaining egg.
  • April 17, 4:55pm:  Early evening: Terzo brought food. Hope fed the chick.
  • April 18, 6:20am:  Nest exchange at dawn. Terzo arrives with food. Hope feeds the chick. Then Terzo broods. 1 egg remains.
One chick, one egg, 18 April 2018, 6:21am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)
One chick, one egg, 18 April 2018, 6:21am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)
Hope looks at Terzo with egg and chick, 18 April 2018, 6:28am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Hope looks at Terzo with egg and chick, 18 April 2018, 6:28am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Why does Hope kill and eat her young?

We don’t know.  This is such a rare occurrence that there’s no guidance from similar peregrine nests — they just don’t do this.  Meanwhile every idea we come up with is a guess.  I prefer not to wade into the guessing.

Unusual behaviors:

Yes, Hope kills and eats her chicks but there are two unusual habits that accompany it:

  • Hope opens the egg.  The hatching rule for all birds is this: Chicks must open the eggs themselves. At other peregrine falconcams notice that the mother watches but does not touch the shell until the chick has forced open the two halves.  Later the mother eats the shell (which is normal). Raptors beaks are sharp and could damage the chick. Normal mother raptors do not use their beaks on the eggs.
  • Hope picks up and carries the chick.  Normal peregrines don’t pick up their hatchlings. When a chick is outside the scrape (nest bowl) the mother uses the underside of her closed beak to pull the chick back to her.  Hope uses her closed beak to arrange the eggs but she breaks that rule when they hatch.

 

Why doesn’t Terzo stay at the nest and prevent this from happening?

The rule at peregrine nests is that the mother bird is totally in charge.  The father bird defers to her.

A corollary is that the mother bird is always present and in charge at hatching time.  She calls all the shots, including timing of the first feeding.

The father bird may communicate that he wants something to be different but it’s her decision.  When Hope tells Terzo, “It’s my turn to be on the nest!” he has to leave.  When he tells her “An egg is hatching” she takes over.  This is the way of the peregrine.

What next?

We don’t know what Hope will do with the last egg so these warnings still apply.

A Caution to Viewers:

Don’t watch the eggs hatch at the Cathedral of Learning if it upsets you to see a mother kill her young.

A Caution to Commenters:

If commenters become worked up and demand/request action in emails or phone calls to “those in charge” it will end the show.  Literally.  It will shut down the camera.  That’s what happened when commenters went over the top at the Woods Hole Osprey-cam.  So… If you post a comment that could inflame others, I will edit it or delete it.

I’ll let you know when the coast is clear.

Bad News Again

Hope eats her first-hatching chick, 17 April 2018, 8:11a (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)
Hope eats her first-hatching chick, 17 April 2018, 8:11a (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Bad news.

This morning the eggs began to hatch at the Cathedral of Learning but as the first one opened its egg the mother peregrine, Hope, killed and ate the chick.  Fortunately she had her back turned while she ate.

There were four eggs when the day began. It remains to be seen how many will survive.

Hope does this every year so I here’s my recommendation:

A Caution to Viewers:

Don’t watch the eggs hatch at the Cathedral of Learning if it upsets you to see a mother kill her young.

I’ll let you know when the coast is clear.


Update: At approximately 9:00am Hope killed and ate chick#2.
Update: At 1:35pm Hope manipulated 3rd egg. Chick #3 hatched. She is brooding it with 4th egg.  (This report is 3rd hand; I was not watching.)

A Caution to Commenters:

Though this situation resembles reality TV in which viewers can vote someone on or off the island, it is not a “voting” situation.  If commenters become worked up and demand/request action in emails or phone calls to “those in charge” it will end the show.  Literally.  It will shut down the camera.  That’s what happened when commenters went over the top at the Woods Hole Osprey-cam.

Normally I do not edit readers’ comments but this situation is not normal.  If you post a comment that could inflame others, I will edit it or delete it.

Though I am not watching Hope closely (I don’t want see her kill her young), I do want the camera to stay up.

 

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

False Alarm

Terzo on a hot day with four eggs and no pips, 14 April 2018 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)
Terzo on a hot day with four eggs and no pips, 14 April 2018, 2:48pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Update on Sunday April 15, before dawn:

Well, my calculations for hatch date were wrong.  The peregrine eggs at the Cathedral of Learning didn’t hatch on April 13 or 14.

They didn’t even pip.

By the end of the day yesterday (April 14) no one could confirm the pip reported on the 13th.

I guess it was a false alarm. However, the eggs will hatch soon.

More news later.

 

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

Hatching Has Begun … Maybe

Four eggs at Pitt peregrine nest, 13 April 2018, 18:00 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ. of Pittsburgh)
Four eggs at Pitt peregrine nest, 13 April 2018, 18:00 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Note the “Caution” at the end of this article.

Yesterday, 13 April 2018, sharp observers saw the first pip in an egg at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest.  I still haven’t seen it, but I’m told it’s in this picture.

This day-in-a-minute video (12 hours in 1 minute) shows that Hope and Terzo were especially active yesterday, partly due to the unusually hot weather.  It was 80 degrees in the shade and hotter at the nest so it was safe to leave the eggs for a bit.

I don’t recommend watching these eggs hatch on camera.  In past years Hope has killed and eaten one or more chicks as they hatch (read more here), so …

Caution! Don’t watch the eggs hatch at the Cathedral of Learning if it upsets you to see a mother kill her young.

It will be safe to watch after hatching is done. Meanwhile, I’ll keep you posted.

 

UPDATE on SATURDAY APRIL 15, 4:00pm:  I still can’t see a pip — and neither does Pitt Peregrines on Facebook.  As of this writing there is still no hatching.  We’ll just have to wait…

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

Caution For Hatch Day

APRIL 24, 2017: Hope picked up her first pipped egg. Later she killed and ate it. (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
APRIL 24, 2017: Hope picked up her first pipped egg. Later she killed and ate it. (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

The peregrine eggs at the Cathedral of Learning nest are due to hatch at the end of this week, but here’s a word of caution:  You might not want to watch.

My calculation says that hatch day for Hope and Terzo’s eggs will be this Friday April 13 or Saturday April 14.

However, it probably won’t be a happy event.  Hope has a habit of killing and eating some of her chicks just after they pip.  Her behavior is very rare and upsets nearly everyone who sees it.

In 2016 Hope killed and ate two chicks before they could emerge from their eggs.  Last year she killed one. (Click on the links to find out more.)

We don’t know why she does this and we don’t know if she’ll repeat it this year but my word to the wise is this:

Caution! Don’t watch the eggs hatch at the Cathedral of Learning if it upsets you to see a mother kill her young.

Hope has a history.  We hope she won’t repeat it this year.

 

p.s. After hatching is over, Hope becomes a good mother. She fledged 1 youngster in 2016 and 3 in 2017.

(snapshot from 24 April 2017 from the National Aviary falconcam at University of Pittsburgh)

Terzo Gets Into The Act

Terzo looks alert while incubating (screenshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Terzo looks alert while incubating (screenshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo has certainly grown into his role as “father peregrine” since he first arrived at the Cathedral of Learning during 2016’s tumultuous nesting season.

He often spends more than half the day incubating while his mate Hope takes a break.  (She incubates all night.)  He has also learned a thing or two about dealing with her.

Hope is a very loud bird, so loud that her shouting can be heard inside the Cathedral of Learning and blocks away from the building.  I don’t know why she shouts but I found out last year that when she shouts she’s looking at Terzo.

This year Terzo is shouting back!

At the beginning of this April 4th video clip, Hope shouts from the nest.  Then you hear another peregrine shout back. It’s Terzo, off camera.  At the end of the clip Hope falls asleep and Terzo shouts at her and wakes her up.  Hah!

 

This went on for a while.  I could have shown you 6 minutes of shouting but decided to spare you.

See and hear them on the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.  Be ready to use the mute button.   😉

 

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

p.s. Having trouble watching the falconcam?  Here are tips for viewing.

New Eaglet at Harmar

First eaglet of 2018 at the Harmar bald eagle nest (photo from Audubon Society of Western PA)
First eaglet of 2018 at the Harmar bald eagle nest (photo from Audubon Society of Western PA)

Yesterday morning the first egg hatched at the Harmar bald eagle nest high above the Allegheny River.

In the midst of April snow his parents were very attentive as he made his way out of the egg. Fortunately the snow was gone by afternoon.  (video from Audubon Society of Western PA (ASWP))

 

Meanwhile over by the Monongahela River, the Hays eaglet is now eleven days old and will be an “only child” this season.  The last egg is not viable though it’s still in the nest.   ASWP posted this snapshot yesterday on their Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page.

10-day-old eaglet at the Hays bald eagle nest, 2 April 2018 (photo from Audubon Society of Western PA's Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page)
10-day-old eaglet at the Hays bald eagle nest, 2 April 2018 (photo from Audubon Society of Western PA’s Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page)

Watch the Harmar eaglecam for the second egg to hatch in the days ahead.

Keep tabs on the Hays eaglet at the Hays live feed.

And for all the latest eagle news, join the eagle watching community at Audubon Society of Western PA’s Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page.

 

(photos and videos from the Audubon Society of Western PA’s Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page)

UPDATE:  Second eaglet hatched at Harmar on April 3 at 4:30pm:

Easter Eggs

Pitt peregrine nest with four eggs, 30 March 2018 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Pitt peregrine nest with four eggs, 30 March 2018 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

April 1, 2018:

This Easter we have four eggs at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest that Hope laid from March 6 through March 14.

Ten years ago Easter was on March 23, 2008 and on that morning Dorothy laid her first egg of the year. Read more here about her Easter Egg.

Happy Easter.