Archive for the 'Nesting & Courtship' Category

May 01 2016

Third Egg Hatched; All is Well

Hope leaves the nest at 6:49am. There are two nestlings and one egg (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope leaves the nest at 6:49am. There are two nestlings and one egg (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Last night at 9:30pm the third egg hatched at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest. Hope immediately ate the egg shell. She did not eat the chick.

This morning there are two nestlings and one egg, as seen in this screenshot when Hope and Terzo did a nest exchange.

All is well.

Two nestlings and one egg at Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Two nestlings and one egg at Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest, May 1, 6:49am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Welcome to the world, C3.

 

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

47 responses so far

Apr 30 2016

Bewildering Birth And Death

Terzo arrives at 3:02pm as Hope shelters the first chick and two eggs (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo arrives at 3:02pm; Hope shelters Chick#1 and two eggs (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Yesterday morning we were excited that the first peregrine egg hatched at Pitt and looked forward to a second hatching later in the day.

At around 2:15pm the second egg hatched. Hope manipulated it, killed it, and fed it to the first chick.

This is not normal peregrine behavior.

Viewers were shocked and bewildered.  Many of you had questions but I was out of cell range for most of the day, unaware that it happened.

I have never seen this behavior before and don’t know why it occurred.  Here’s what we do know: Peregrines’ lives are very different from ours. Using our human yardstick to understand them — anthropomorphizing — really leads us astray.

I asked Art McMorris, the PA Game Commission’s Peregrine Coordinator, who viewed the archived footage and said the chick was alive but might not have been normal.  In all his years of dealing with peregrines, Art has never seen this before either.

Hope’s behavior was so unusual that there is no information on it.  Many of you speculated about it and asked “Is this why she did it?”  In almost every case my answer is “I don’t know.”

A line from The Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot comes to mind: “But there was no information, and so we continued.”   The rest of the poem applies, too.

And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different …
— excerpt from The Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot

 

We are learning a lot this year about unusual peregrine behavior.

And a reminder: If watching the nestcam upsets you, turn it off. Give yourself a rest. I do.

 

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

58 responses so far

Apr 29 2016

First Peregrine Egg Hatched at Pitt!

Terzo and Hope with their first nestling of 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo and Hope with their first nestling of 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Happy news at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest.  The first chick has hatched!    Welcome to the world, “C1.”

This morning at 6:18 am Hope was restless and pulled one of the eggs away from the other three.  In this photo you can see that the egg is cracked.  The chick was about to hatch.

Hope pulls the about-to-hatch egg away from the other three (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope pulls the about-to-hatch egg away from the other three (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Soon Hope moved the egg back to the clutch …

Hope moves hatching egg back to the clutch (photo from National Aviary falconcamat Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope moves hatching egg back to the clutch (photo from National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

… and at 6:42am she called to Terzo, “Come see what’s happening.”

Hope calls to Terzo after first chick hatches (photo from National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope calls to Terzo after first chick hatches (photo from National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo arrived at 6:55am (top photo) to see the chick nestled in the half shell.

Hope left to have breakfast and Terzo settled on the chick and eggs to keep them warm.

By 7:27am Terzo showed the chick completely out of the shell.  Notice the two halves of empty shell.

Terzo with first chick and eggshell, 29 April 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo with first chick and eggshell, 29 April 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

 

Welcome to the world, “C1”!    We hope we’ll see more “C’s” hatching soon.  (See this blog post about nestling names.)

 

UPDATE AT 4:00PM: I’m sorry that I’ve been out of cell range for the past 5 hours. At around 2:15pm the second egg hatched, Hope killed it and fed it to the first chick. I have never seen this behavior before and do not know enough yet to speculate on why this happened. I’ll publish more news when I have it.

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

81 responses so far

Apr 25 2016

Small Falcons Found Downtown

Male American kestrel (photo by Cris Hamilton)

Male American kestrel (photo by Cris Hamilton)

We’re still searching for the peregrines who nest in Downtown Pittsburgh.  They left the Gulf Tower in March and we know they’re nesting … but where?  Two weeks ago I posted this blog asking folks to… Look for Perching Peregrines.

Last Wednesday Diane P. left a comment saying she’d found a pair of falcons nesting in the facade of a building on Fifth Avenue across from Chatham Center.  Within a few hours I was Downtown checking the area for peregrines.

From Duquesne University’s campus I saw a small bird of prey perched high on Chatham Center but the light was so poor that I couldn’t identify it.  On Fifth Avenue I found this hole in the 1904 building.

The perfect hole for kestrels, 1904 building (photo by Kate St. John)

Kestrel hole, 1904 building (photo by Kate St. John)

The next morning I stopped by Chatham Center plaza and saw the bird in better light on the same perch.  It’s a small falcon, an American kestrel (Falco sparverius).

By luck Diane was out on the plaza, too, so we chatted about her discovery.  Suddenly we heard a kestrel calling and both adults swooped into the nest.  Then we heard the sounds of baby birds being fed.  It’s a family!

Diane was so good at finding these small falcons that I hope she finds the big ones, too.  (And I do hope the peregrines leave the kestrels alone!)

Remember to keep looking for perching peregrines when you’re Downtown.

 

(photo by Cris Hamilton)

9 responses so far

Apr 24 2016

Female Intruder, Briefly on 23 Apr 2016

Adult female intruder visits Pitt peregrine nest, 23 April 2016, 4:04pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Adult female intruder visits Pitt peregrine nest, 23 April 2016, 4:04pm. Terzo backs away. (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Yesterday afternoon — Saturday April 23 — an adult female intruder visited the Pitt peregrines’ nest while Terzo was incubating the eggs at 4:00pm.

Terzo took one look at her and left (above).

The mystery lady stayed for less than a minute but managed to show the color of her bands: pinkish USFW band (right leg) and Black/Red on her left leg.

Adult female intruder, 23 April 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Adult female intruder, 23 April 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Obviously she’s a different bird than the one that visited April 8th.  That one was an unbanded juvenile.  This one is an adult and has bands that may be from Ohio.

But it doesn’t matter who she is as long as she doesn’t stay.  Hope chased her away and was back at the nest at 6:20pm looking just fine.

It all happened so quickly that we wouldn’t have noticed if Janet Luzell hadn’t mentioned it in a comment on my blog.

Thank you, Janet, for your sharp eyes!

 

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

p.s. I am rarely in Facebook so if you want to reach me the quickest way is to leave a comment on my blog.  Every comment sends me an email.

15 responses so far

Apr 24 2016

Report Nesting Ospreys

Two Osprey chicks call for food (photo by Cris Hamilton)

Two Osprey chicks call for food (photo by Cris Hamilton)

Did you know that ospreys suffered through the DDT pesticide crash and recovery just like bald eagles and peregrine falcons?

Ospreys are doing much better now than they did in 1986 when there was only one nest in Pennsylvania — but how much better are they doing?  That’s where you come in.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission monitors this State Threatened species and they need to know where ospreys nest, especially in the western part of the state.

This PGC map shows the known nesting sites in 2015.  Look at the gaps!   For instance, is it possible that no ospreys nest in Armstrong County, home to the Allegheny River and Crooked Creek Lake?  I’ll bet they nest in the county but PGC doesn’t know about them.

 

Help the PA Game Commission fill in the map by reporting nesting ospreys.  Download the  Osprey Nest Survey Form (PDF) along with the Nest Observation Protocol (PDF). Submit your completed survey forms to osprey@pa.gov.

And please don’t assume someone else will report a local nest.  It’s up to you!

For more information, read this eBird blog post by Doug Gross.

 

(photo by Cris Hamilton)

One response so far

Apr 22 2016

Names For Nestlings

Nestlings in 2009 (photo from National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

12-day-old peregrine nestlings, May 2009 (photo from National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Perhaps we shouldn’t count our peregrines before they hatch but the chicks at the Hays bald eagle nest and Cornell’s red-tailed hawk nest made me think about nestling names.

When we see birds on camera we want them to have names.

Bald eagle chicks are named with the nest letter + a number that keeps increasing year after year.  At the Hays nest the names are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6, etc.

At Cornell’s red-tailed hawk nest, Big Red and Ezra’s chicks are named with a letter that changes every year + a number.  The nest is now up to the letter G so the first two chicks were named G1 and G2 and together they’re called “the G’s.”

In the past we didn’t name peregrine nestlings until Banding Day but that led to misunderstandings and confusion so here’s the plan — similar to the bald eagle protocol.

The Cathedral of Learning nestlings will named with a nest letter that doesn’t change (C for Cathedral of Learning) + a number.  If we’d started this in 2009 the four nestlings above would be C1, C2, C3, C4.

Good luck figuring out who’s who!  Peregrine eggs all hatch within 24+ hours so the nestlings are the same size for a long time.  This only changes when the females become noticeably larger that the males. Males are 1/3 smaller.

15-day-old peregrine nestlings, May 2009 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

15-day-old peregrine nestlings, May 2009 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

 

When will the eggs hatch at Pitt?  I believe that real incubation did not begin until April 3 or 4.  Wild peregrines hatch their eggs in about 33 days.  (Incubator-raised eggs hatch sooner because of constant temperature without interruptions.)   So my prediction for Hatch Day at Pitt is approximately May 6.  …But I might be wrong…

Why isn’t the hatch date sooner?  After E2 died, Hope spent a long time away from the nest searching for a mate.  If she had heated the first three eggs to incubation temperature and then left them, her long absence would cause those embryos to fail.  At this point I believe she merely protected the three eggs until all four began incubation in early April.

 

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh, May 2009)

5 responses so far

Apr 20 2016

Red-Tail Eggs Hatching Soon!

Ezra the red-tailed hawk incubates three eggs at Cornell (screenshot from nestcam at Cornell Lab)

Ezra the red-tailed hawk incubates three eggs in Ithaca, NY (screenshot from nestcam via Cornell Lab)

In Ithaca, NY it’s been 38 days since Big Red, the red-tailed hawk, laid her first egg on March 13.  Today one of her three eggs has a pip.  Watch it hatch online!

Big Red and her mate Ezra nest on a light pole about 80 feet above an athletic field at Cornell University.  They’ve attracted an online crowd ever since Cornell Lab began hosting their nestcam in 2012 at Cornell Lab Birdcams.

Click here or on the screenshot above to watch Big Red, Ezra and their growing family.  Check out the Twitter feed on the right of their webpage for recent close-ups and videos from @CornellHawks.

Red-tailed hawk eggs hatch every other day so if you miss this first one there are two more eggs to watch.

Downy nestlings coming soon!

 

(screenshot from red-tailed hawk nestcam in Ithaca, NY via Cornell Lab)

 

One response so far

Apr 17 2016

Go See The Owls Soon

Great horned owl and owlet, Homestead Grays Bridge, 15 April 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Great horned owl and owlet, Homestead Grays Bridge, 15 April 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

If you haven’t been to The Waterfront to see the great horned owl nest on the Homestead Grays Bridge, go soon!  The owlet is growing fast — as shown in these photos by Dana Nesiti on Friday, April 15.

Great horned owl and owlet, Homestead Grays Bridge, 15 April 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Great horned owl and owlet, Homestead Grays Bridge, 15 April 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

 

Great horned owl and owlet, Homestead Grays Bridge, 15 April 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Great horned owl and owlet, Homestead Grays Bridge, 15 April 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

 

Great horned owl and owlet, Homestead Grays Bridge, 15 April 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Great horned owl and owlet, Homestead Grays Bridge, 15 April 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

The best viewing area is at the Three Rivers Heritage bike Trail to the right of the Red Robin restaurant at The Waterfront (175 E Waterfront Dr, Homestead, PA 15120).

Don’t miss your chance to see the owlet before he leaves the nest.

 

Thanks to Dana for sharing his photos.  See Dana’s great photos of the Hays bald eagles at his Eagles of Hays PA Facebook page.

(photos by Dana Nesiti)

5 responses so far

Apr 14 2016

The Don’t Walk Robin

American robin nesting on the Don't Walk sign (photo by Kate St. John)

American robin nesting on the Don’t Walk sign (photo by Kate St. John)

On Throw Back Thursday:

American robins have already begun to nest this month.  Back in April 2009 I noticed that one had chosen an unusual nest site on South Craig Street.

Can you see the bird incubating in front of the “Don’t Walk” sign?

Read more about her in this article called:  Don’t Walk!

 

(photo by Kate St. John)

2 responses so far

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