C1 pants in the heat as Hope perches in the sun (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
The peregrine family at the Cathedral of Learning is in for some excitement today. Hope and Terzo’s chick, C1, will be banded this morning.
Just after 10:00am Dan Brauning of the Pennsylvania Game Commission will venture out on the Cathedral of Learning ledge. Don’t be shocked when you hear the peregrines “kakking” and the chick disappears for a while. The falconcams will continue to run while the chick is absent.
C1 will receive a health check and some new “jewelry” and will be returned to the nest very quickly. A side benefit is that we’ll learn whether he’s a “she” or a “he.”
Watch my blog for photos of the event later today.
p.s. It’s exceptionally warm here in Pittsburgh this week. As shown in the photo above, you’ll see C1 panting and holding his wings open to stay cool.
(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh)
Note: I don’t announce the banding in advance because the event is not open to the public. The room is too small to allow for uninvited guests.
Terzo delivers a black-feathered prey item to the nest. Hope retrieves it. C1 watches (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
In years past, Pitt peregrine watchers were used to seeing a very messy nest on camera. Dorothy, the previous resident female, usually plucked prey at the nest soon after she was done brooding. In those years the nest normally looked like this.
This year the nest has been amazingly clean … until yesterday. At 6:45am Terzo brought a black-feathered prey item to the nest. Hope took it from him and plucked it while C1 watched. (It was a male red-winged blackbird.)
Hope plucks the prey item – a red-winged blackbird — as C1 looks on (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
I finally figured out there’s a good reason for making a mess. C1 will soon be old enough to eat on his own and will need to know how to pluck prey and tear it up. The best way to learn is by watching. Yesterday Hope showed him by example.
By the end of the month C1 will be grabbing the food and plucking it himself. In the meantime I’m sure he’ll watch more food preparation demonstrations.
Breakfast is served amid the feathers (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Peregrine (maybe Dori) on Wood Street Commons Building, Pittsburgh, 12 May 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
Last week Lori Maggio visited Third Avenue between Wood and Smithfield to take photos of the Downtown peregrines. Look closely and you can see that both birds are banded. Unfortunately we can’t read the bands yet.
Though we’re not sure of this pair’s identity, the choice of nest site behind 322 Fourth Ave leads me to believe the female is still Dori.
Dori on a gargoyle at Point Park’s Lawrence Hall, 11 May 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
My guess is that the bird pictured below is the male. Is this Louie? We don’t know. Louie is 14 years old now — quite old for a peregrine — so it’s possible he was replaced by a new male.
Peregrine atop 322 Fourth Ave above the nest, 11 May 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
Both adults like to perch on the turquoise-colored “shields” on top of Wood Street Commons.
(Maybe the male) Peregrine perched on top of Wood Street Commons Building, 11 May 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
The adults go in and out of the nest with food, indicating there are young at the nest.
Peregrine flies to the nest area — in and out — 11 May 2016 (photos by Lori Maggio)
We won’t know how old the nestlings are until they appear at the edge of the opening.
Feeding time for peregrine chicks in Hokkaido, Japan. (screenshot from Eduence Field Productions Ltd)
Most of us have never seen peregrines nesting at wild cliffs so it’s a real pleasure to find this excellent video from Hokkaido, Japan showing a pair nesting by the sea.
Click on the screenshot above to watch peregrines’ family life as the chicks grow up from ages two to five weeks.
Here’s what you’ll see:
The male chases dense flocks of birds to separate out a single bird and capture it.
1st feeding, chicks 2 weeks old (This is C1’s age today at Pitt): The male brings food close to the nest but not into it. The female leaves the nest to take the prey and carries it back to the nest to feed the chicks. If you were watching this feeding on a nestcam you would not see the male at all and might mistakenly think the female does all the hunting. Nope.
2nd feeding, chicks 3 weeks old: The chicks have full crops showing as gray bulges on their throats. This is a sign they are well fed. (You can see this bulge already on C1’s throat when he is full.) The chicks are not very hungry so after their mother eats she takes away the leftovers to cache them.
3rd feeding, chicks 4 weeks old: The chicks are half brown with growing feathers. They rush at their parents to grab the food and eat it on their own.
Ledge walking and learning to fly, 5 weeks old: One chick flaps and lands at the bottom of the cliff in the water. Notice that he can swim! He gets out of the water and climbs the cliff. 🙂
Nestcams see such a tiny piece of birds’ lives that you might misunderstand what’s going on.
Peregrines are fascinating when you watch them from the ground.
2012 peregrine chick at entrance to the nest in Downtown Pittsburgh. This nest is being used again in 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)
Congratulations to Lori Maggio whose search for perching peregrines has paid off. She found the nest site of the Downtown peregrines!
Lori walks to and from her workplace at the USX Tower and often walks at lunchtime so when I asked folks to look for peregrines Downtown, she decided to help.
It was a fruitless effort until Monday May 9 when she found a peregrine perched on a high railing at Point Park’s Lawrence Hall. Later that day she stopped by and a peregrine was perched there again.
Then yesterday, May 10, she saw a peregrine take food to the nest! Both adults went into the nest and came out after about 30 seconds. Are the young old enough to feed themselves? If so we should be seeing them at the nest opening soon.
If you’d like to help watch for activity, visit 3rd Avenue between Smithfield and Wood Streets. Heading down 3rd Avenue (it’s one way), pause at the parking lot that runs between 3rd and 4th Avenues. Facing Wood Street, look up to the right and you’ll see a building that has looks like this.
The back of 322 Fourth Ave as seen from 3rd Avenue (photo by Kate St. John)
Look for activity at the opening, as shown in the top photo, and let me know if you see a chick. We won’t know when to have Fledge Watch until we know how old the chicks are.
Hope with her remaining chick, 6 May 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
This afternoon as Hope and Terzo’s last egg began to hatch, Hope picked the new chick out of its shell, ate part of it, and fed the rest to her only remaining chick, C1.
All four of Hope’s eggs hatched but there is only one chick to show for it. On April 29 she killed and ate the second chick (C2) feeding part of it to C1. C3 hatched on April 30 but he never thrived. (Some of you speculated that she didn’t fed him adequately even though there is plenty of food.)
Hours after C3 died Hope fed him to C1. And now she has killed and eaten C4, again feeding him to C1.
We don’t know why Hope is doing this. Perhaps her situation will prompt biologists to study her case. In the meantime we can only wonder.
Needless to say her actions are distressing, so turn off the nestcam if it upsets you.
This is very abnormal behavior!!
p.s. I have no predictions on what she’ll do next. I have no idea how the season will end.
Things got exciting on the Kestrel Nestcam in Boise, Idaho last Wednesday, April 27. By the end of the day four of the five kestrel eggs had hatched. The fifth one hatched the next day.
Watch the first feeding in the video above.
American kestrels nest in holes and will readily use a nest box so The Peregrine Fund erected one on their campus and set up two streaming cameras — one inside the box and one outside. Click here to watch the KestrelCam in Boise, sponsored by Bosch.
Here are some cool things you’ll notice about the kestrels:
The chicks are all the same size because they hatched within about 24 hours. Kestrels’ synchronous hatching strategy is similar to peregrines.(*)
American kestrels have malar stripes (mustaches) just like peregrines.
Their markings make it look as if they have eyes on the backs of their heads.
Kestrels are more colorful than peregrines but the mother’s plumage is muted compared to the male’s. She’s striped and brown. He has a cinnamon back and blue-gray wings.
When the chicks lose their down and develop juvenile plumage, they’ll resemble their mother.
Idaho is two time zones away so you’ll see these birds in the sun for two hours after night has begun in Pittsburgh.
Thank you to “Norca” for alerting me to this Kestrel Cam.
Ooops! This morning the inside-the-box camera is down for maintenance. Please be patient … and watch the videos listed below the cam window.
(*) NOTE: Hatching at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest is delayed this spring because Hope started incubation about a week before she laid the 4th egg. Her mate E2 died March 15. Terzo arrived on or before March 23. There was a 15 day gap between the 3rd and 4th egg.
(video from the American kestrel nestcam, The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho)
Hope and Terzo with 2 chicks, 1 May 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
As we watch the chicks at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest, some of you wonder if they’re getting enough to eat. Others think Terzo isn’t hunting because Hope always brings the food to the nest.
THIS IS FIXED! An Internet problem: We couldn’t see the nestcam on the Aviary website. THIS IS FIXED!
Here are some Peregrine FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that explain what’s going on.