Archive for the 'Nesting & Courtship' Category

Apr 27 2017

Three Nestlings At Pitt

Hope prepares to feed 3 nestlings at the Cathedral of Learning, 27 Apr 2017, 8:06a (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope prepares to feed 3 nestlings at the Cathedral of Learning, 27 Apr 2017, 8:06a (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Yesterday at sunset there were two chicks and one egg at the Cathedral of Learning nest.  This morning there are three chicks.

Last night Deane posted a comment, “I missed the action prior, but Hope is eating the final eggshell. 21:10.”

The motion detection snapshots show Hope manipulating and eating an eggshell at 9:04pm but the photos are too dark to see if she ate the chick as well.  We had to wait for daylight to find out.

Hope manipulates the 4th egg, 26 April 2017, 9:04p (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope manipulates the 4th egg, 26 April 2017, 9:04p (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Hope manipulates empty eggshell of 4th egg, 26 April 2017, 9:07p (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope holds the empty shell egg #4, 26 April 2017, 9:07p (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

 

This morning at 8am Terzo delivered a woodpecker for breakfast.  As Hope prepared to feed the chicks, we could see three tiny heads.

Hope prepares to feed 3 nestlings at the Cathedral of Learning, 27 Apr 2017, 7:56a (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope prepares to feed 3 nestlings at the Cathedral of Learning, 27 Apr 2017, 7:56a (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

 

Last year Hope’s infanticide activity was confined to the hatching process.  Perhaps we can watch the Cathedral of Learning falconcam now without dread.

 

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

54 responses so far

Apr 24 2017

Three Chicks at Gulf, A Pip at Pitt

Louie, Dori and three chicks, 23 Apr 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Louie, Dori and three chicks, 23 Apr 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Yesterday we had good brief views of the three peregrine nestlings at the Gulf Tower.  By now we’re certain that the last two eggs won’t hatch.

The fourth egg pipped on Friday April 21 but the chick did not live to emerge from its shell. Dori tried to help it along, as seen in this videomark, but that was not enough.

You can see the crack in egg #4 in this pre-dawn photo from April 23 as Dori and Louie examine the egg.

Dori and Louie look at the incomplete hatch of egg #4, 23 Apr 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Louie and Dori look at the incomplete hatch of egg #4, 23 Apr 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

When the adults allow a look, the crack is obvious in daylight.

Cracked egg #4 is obvious in this photo, 23 Apr 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Cracked egg #4 is obvious as Louie settles over the chicks, 23 Apr 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Eventually Dori and Louie will move both unhatched eggs away from the chicks.

 

Meanwhile at Pitt, when I first published this article I couldn’t see any pips in the eggs during the 7:09am nest exchange.  But …

Four eggs at Pitt, 24 April 2017, 7:09am (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Cathedral of Learning)

Four eggs at Pitt, 24 April 2017, 7:09am (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Cathedral of Learning)

Some viewers caught a quick glimpse at a pip at 7:25am.  And at 8:10am Shannon Platt captured this photo of Terzo turning the eggs.  Hatching has begun.

Terzo turns the eggs, revealing a pip, 24 Apr 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo turns the eggs, revealing a pip, 24 Apr 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

 

As I said before, we don’t know if Hope will kill some of her young when they hatch — as she did last year — but keep this Caution in mind:  Don’t watch the eggs hatch at the Cathedral of Learning if it upsets you to see that behavior.

 

(photos from the National Aviary falconcams at Gulf Tower and Cathedral of Learning)

 

29 responses so far

Apr 21 2017

Throwing His Head

Hooded mergansers are headed for the woods where the females will nest alone in hollow trees.  On the way they’re choosing mates.

What features are the ladies looking for?

Based on the video above, I’ll bet they’re impressed by the biggest white hood.

Most of these birds have moved north of our area but a few breed in Butler, Crawford and Erie counties.

If you see a pair cruising together, wait to see if he throws his head.

 

(video by Alex Galt on YouTube)

One response so far

Apr 20 2017

Meanwhile, A Caution Across Town

Dori with her first chick at the Gulf Tower, 19 April 2017, 3:27pm (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam)

Dori with her first chick at the Gulf Tower, 19 April 2017, 3:27pm (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam)

Since yesterday we’ve been having a joyous time as we watch five peregrine eggs hatch at the Gulf Tower (shown above).  Dori and Louie are excellent parents who’ve raised 27 young in Downtown Pittsburgh. We’re looking forward to a happy healthy season at this nest.

Meanwhile across town, the Cathedral of Learning peregrine eggs are due to hatch soon … but you might not want to watch.

4 eggs at the Cathedral of Learning, 19 April 2017 (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam)

4 eggs at the Cathedral of Learning, 19 April 2017 (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam)

Hope and Terzo’s eggs are due to hatch this Sunday April 23 (give or take a day or two) but Hope shocked us last year by killing and eating two of her four chicks as they hatched.  This type of behavior is very rare and upsets nearly everyone who sees it.

We don’t know if Hope will repeat the behavior 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.  Again, we don’t know if Hope will do this, but she might.

 

 


p.s.  Yesterday some of you were confused between the Gulf Tower and Cathedral of Learning nests.  Here’s an easy way to tell the difference.

The Gulf Tower camera view always has a window ledge on the right side of the image (see yellow area).

Comparison camera view at Gulf. Notice the window ledge on the right.

Comparison camera view at Gulf. Notice the window ledge on the right.

 

The Cathedral of Learning camera view always has a green perch at the bottom right.

Cathedral of Learning nest view. Notice the green perch at the bottom right corner.

Cathedral of Learning nest view. Notice the green perch at the bottom right corner.

 

(snapshots for the National Aviary falconcams at Gulf Tower and University of Pittsburgh)

14 responses so far

Apr 19 2017

We Have a Pip at the Gulf Tower

Dori at the Gulf Tower peregrine nest showing an egg with a pip (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Dori at the Gulf Tower peregrine nest showing an egg with a pip (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

At 7:17am this morning, 19 April 2017, Dori turned the eggs at the Gulf Tower peregrine nest and revealed a pip in one of them.

Watch for Dori and Louie’s eggs to hatch in the next 24 to 48 hours at the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower.

 

(snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

p.s. Don’t confuse this mother peregrine at the Gulf Tower with Hope at the Cathedral of Learning nest.  Dori is an excellent mother and has never killed her young. Hope, the female peregrine at Pitt, killed and ate two of her chicks last year.

p.p.s. First hatch at 9:08a (approximately).

32 responses so far

Apr 13 2017

Hatch Watch At The Gulf Tower

Dori and five chicks, 23 April 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori and five chicks, 23 April 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

The National Aviary has zoomed the Gulf Tower falconcam because this weekend — or early next week — the peregrine eggs at the Gulf Tower will start to hatch.  It’s time for Hatch Watch!

Peregrine falcons delay the start of incubation until the female has laid her next-to-last egg, then incubation lasts about 32 days plus or minus a day or two.  In this way, nearly all the eggs hatch within 24 hours.  (The last egg hatches a day or two later.)  The trick for us humans is figuring out when incubation actually begins.

This year we thought Dori finished laying eggs on March 15, when she had four, but she surprised us with a fifth egg before dawn on March 17.  Her next-to-last egg was on March 15 so my guess is that incubation began around March 16.  That means Day 32 is on April 17.

Here’s another way to calculate it.  When Dori laid five eggs in 2014, the number of days from first egg to hatch was 41 days.  This year her first egg was on March 8.  41 days later is April 18.

But I don’t really know.

If you’re a member of the Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook page you’ve seen that John English predicted Hatch Date as April 15 or 16 plus or minus two days.  My guess is April 17 or 18.   Maybe you have a guess, too.  Only Dori and Louie know for sure.

Watch the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower for pips in the eggs.  Here’s more information on what to look for:

Question: Hatching

 

(snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam in 2014 at the Gulf Tower)

4 responses so far

Apr 11 2017

Special Equipment For Warming Eggs

Dori rolls the eggs just before she resumes incubation (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori rolls the eggs before she resumes incubation (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

To become baby birds, eggs must be warmed to around 98.6 °F and remain at that temperature while the embryos develop.  Adult birds that incubate(*) have special equipment to accomplish this:  bare skin on the belly called a brood patch.

We don’t usually see the brood patch because surrounding feathers close over it to keep the adult warm.  When a bird comes back to its nest to incubate, it opens its belly feathers to lay its bare skin against the eggs.  You may have seen peregrines open their belly feathers by standing over the eggs and rocking side to side.

Click on the link below to see an American kestrel’s brood patch and learn about this important part of bird anatomy.

Anatomy: Brood Patch

(*) p.s. In eagles and peregrines, both sexes incubate so both have brood patches but this isn’t the case with all birds.  In many duck species, only the female incubates so the males don’t have brood patches.

 

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

6 responses so far

Mar 31 2017

Peregrine News, Western PA

Louie and Dori at the Gulf Tower nest, 28 March 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Louie and Dori at the Gulf Tower nest, 28 March 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

It’s peregrine falcon nesting season in western Pennsylvania.  Here’s the latest news from our nine nesting locations.

 

1. Downtown Pittsburgh: This year at the Gulf Tower

Dori arranges 5 eggs at the Gulf Tower, 28 Mar 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Dori arranges 5 eggs at the Gulf Tower, 28 Mar 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

This year we’re pleased that Dori and Louie are nesting at the Gulf Tower after two years at other Downtown sites.  Dori laid her first egg on March 8, her last on March 17.  With such a full nest it took us three days to notice she had five eggs.  Our best guess for Hatch Date is approximately 4/16/2017. Watch the Gulf Tower nest online on the National Aviary’s falconcam.

 

2. Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh

Terzo and 4 eggs at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 28 March 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo and 4 eggs at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 28 March 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope and Terzo are incubating four eggs at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning.  Hope laid her first egg on March 15 and her last egg on March 24 after an unusual four day pause.  (Eggs are usually laid 2 days apart.)  It’s hard to calculate Hatch Date under these circumstances but our best guess is 4/22/2017.  Watch this nest online at the National Aviary’s Cathedral of Learning falconcam.

 

3. Westinghouse Bridge, Allegheny County

Peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 21 Mar 2017 (photo by Doug Cunzolo)

Peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 21 Mar 2017 (photo by Doug Cunzolo)

Peregrines didn’t nest at the Westinghouse Bridge last year but at least one remained on territory.  On March 21 John English and Doug Cunzolo found this one, identified as George (Cobb Island, 2006). Neighbors on Elder Street say peregrines have been loud in recent weeks and favoring the area they used in 2014.

This site needs more monitors so please visit and report what you see.  Click here for a map of 3 viewing locations. The best one is Elder Street (yellow X).  Note: The railroad forbids access under the bridge.

 

4. McKees Rocks Bridge, Allegheny County

McKees Rocks Bridge with ALCOSAN in foreground (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

McKees Rocks Bridge with ALCOSAN in foreground (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

This bridge is so long and high that it’s very hard to monitor. Nonetheless a pair of peregrines has been seen twice in courtship flight:  by Leslie Ferree on February 25, and by John Flannigan on March 16.  Keep an eye out for peregrines if you’re in the vicinity.

 

5. Neville Island I-79 Bridge, Allegheny County

Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Robert Stovers on Wikimedia Commons)

The peregrines at this bridge were identified two years ago as Magnum (Canton, 2010) and Beau (Cathedral of Learning, 2010, son of Dorothy and E2).  Anne Marie Bosnyak saw lots of mating and courtship activity, most recently on March 18 and 19.  It’s a good sign that this pair is probably incubating by now.

 

6. Monaca East Rochester Bridge, Beaver County

Monaca East Rochester Bridge, 2012(photo by PGC WCO Steve Leiendecker)

Monaca East Rochester Bridge, 2012 (photo by PGC WCO Steve Leiendecker)

I can’t find any recent reports of peregrines in the Beaver-Monaca area but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  If you’re in the vicinity, check for peregrines near this bridge and near the big black railroad bridge that crosses from Monaca to Beaver.  Peregrines have used both sites. Note! See Cindy’s comment below. She’s seen peregrines at this bridge.

 

7. Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny-Westmoreland County

Peregrine falcons mating at Tarentum Bridge, 21 Mar 2017 (photo by Steve Gosser)

Peregrine falcons mating at Tarentum Bridge, 21 Mar 2017 (photo by Steve Gosser)

The Tarentum Bridge has been very active in recent weeks.  Site monitor Rob Protz sees or hears a peregrine nearly every day and Steve Gosser photographed the pair mating on March 21.  Though we still don’t know their identities (the male is banded) we have our fingers crossed for a successful nest this year.

 

8. The Graff Bridge, Route 422 Kittanning, Armstrong County

Peregrine falcon at the Graff Bridge, Kittanning, 29 Mar 2017 (photo by Anthony Bruno)

Peregrine falcon at the Graff Bridge, Kittanning, 29 Mar 2017 (photo by Anthony Bruno)

Last year peregrines nested successfully at the Graff Bridge near Kittanning, PA and they’re present this year, too.  A few weeks ago they were seen copulating on the bridge and on Wednesday Tony Bruno found this one.  The birds are quiet now so perhaps they’re incubating.  Watch for more activity around hatching time in late April or early May.

 

9. Erie, PA Waterfront, Erie County

View of Erie, PA from the Centennial Tower (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

View of Erie, PA from the Centennial Tower (photo from Wikimedia Commons).  A favorite peregrine perch is on the old smokestack at the left.

Mary Birdsong confirms that Erie’s peregrines are setting up housekeeping inside the Donjon Shipyard building again (shown below). Last year the pair was Nomad (Cleveland, 2008) and an unbanded female.   If you want to see peregrines in Erie, check the top of the old smokestack in the photo above.  Here’s a map.

DonJon Shipbuilding, Erie, PA (photo linked from donjonshipbuilding.com)

DonJon Shipbuilding, Erie, PA (photo linked from donjonshipbuilding.com)

 

(photo credits:
photos from the National Aviary falconcams
Peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge by Doug Cunzolo
McKees Rocks Bridge, Neville Island I-79 Bridge and Erie, PA Waterfront from Wikimedia Commons
Peregrines mating at Tarentum by Steve Gosser
Peregrine at the Graff Bridge by Anthony Bruno
DonJon Shipbuilding, Erie, PA, linked from donjonshipbuilding.com
)

 

7 responses so far

Mar 27 2017

Why Aren’t They Sitting On The Eggs?

Published by under Nesting & Courtship

Terzo and 4 eggs, Cathedral of Learning nest, 24 Mar 2017, 12:02pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo and 4 eggs, Cathedral of Learning nest, 24 Mar 2017, 12:02pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

This year we have two peregrine nests on camera in Pittsburgh and both families are incubating right now.  At the Gulf Tower the adults are always covering the eggs, but at the Cathedral of Learning the peregrines sometimes leave them exposed.  Is this bad for the eggs? Will the eggs fail?

Don’t worry. The eggs will be fine.  What you’re observing is the parents’ response to different microclimates at the nests.

A microclimate is a small area with a different temperature and/or moisture than the larger region.  You’ve probably experienced this yourself.  When it’s 50 degrees at Pittsburgh International Airport it feels cold in the shade with a 20 mph wind.  Meanwhile, next to a warm wall out of the wind it can be 68oF.

The Cathedral of Learning nest faces south, is in full sun most of the day, and is sheltered from the wind by walls that surround it on three sides. The walls retain heat so the area stays warm and allows the adult peregrines to take a break from incubation.

The Gulf Tower nest faces northeast, has no direct sunlight, and is very windy on cold days (north winds).  The nest is so cold in March and April that the peregrines must cover the eggs almost constantly.

GulfTower nest incubation underway, 23 Mar 2017,12:19pm (screenshot from National Aviary falconcam)

Gulf Tower incubation in the shade, 23 Mar 2017,12:19pm (screenshot from National Aviary falconcam)

The heat at the Cathedral of Learning is an advantage in early spring but it’s bad news in May when the weather warms up.  The area becomes so hot that the parents pant and shade their young for fear the chicks will die of heat.  Below, Hope shades her chick on a hot day in early May 2016. The Gulf Tower never has this problem!

Hope shades her chick from the hot sun, 7 May 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope shades her chick from the hot sun, 7 May 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

 

So don’t worry when the Pitt peregrines take an incubation break.  They know more about eggs and about the temperature at their nest than we do.

 

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

p.s. Some of you were wondering if Terzo ever participates in incubation.  Indeed he does!  Yesterday, March 26, he spent half the day on the nest, 6.25 hours.  Here’s who was incubating and when on 26 March 2017.

  • Hope: overnight – 7:12a
  • Terzo: 7:16a – 9:46a
  • Hope: 9:47a – 1104a
  • Terzo: 11:12a – 12:37p
  • Hope: 12:42p – 5:37p
  • Terzo: 5:38p – 7:50p (It was getting dark by then.)
  • Hope: 7:55p – overnight

Look carefully!  Terzo is often on camera.  Use these tips to identify him.

4 responses so far

Mar 26 2017

Hays Bald Eagle Hatch Watch

Bald eagle near the nest, 25 Mar 2017 (photo by Dana Nesiti, Eagles of Hays PA on Facebook)

Bald eagle near the Hays nest, 25 Mar 2017 (photo by Dana Nesiti, Eagles of Hays PA on Facebook)

Six weeks ago on February 13, the Hays bald eagle nest tree blew over in a storm while the female was incubating her first egg.  Within a week the pair built a new nest nearby and, though they can’t be seen on the webcam, observers on the ground can tell the eagles began incubation on a new egg on February 19.

Bald eagle eggs typically hatch in 35 days.  Today, March 26, is the 35th day.

Eagle fans don’t wait until hatch day to begin their vigil.  Yesterday Dana Nesiti (Eagles of Hays PA on Facebook) arrived before dawn and captured the photo above. I stopped by at 3pm and found Eaglestreamer and LFL on duty.

Eaglestreamer and LFL at the Hays bald eagle viewing site, 25 March 2017 (photo by Kate St. John)

Eaglestreamer and LFL at the Hays bald eagle viewing site, 25 March 2017 (photo by Kate St. John)

Eaglestreamer has tracked the Hays eagles for years and told me that their first hatch date is often Day 37 so there’s still time to be there for the big event.  (See Eaglestreamer’s hatch website here.)

Even if you miss the hatch, the eagles will be exciting in the days ahead as they bring food to the nest.

Click here for directions to the Hays viewing area.  On Facebook, see Hays bald eagle photos by Annette Devinney, Dana Nesiti, Dan Dasynich … and many of their friends.

 

UPDATE MARCH 28: HATCHED!  Without a webcam on-the-ground observers look for parents-feeding-young behavior.  This behavior was confimed on 28 March 2017.  Eaglestreamer writes:  “2 fish delivered back to back as was finally able to get a peek at small bits of food being torn and offered with lowered beak.”

(bald eagle photo by Dana Nesiti, Eagles of Hays PA on Facebook. Eaglestreamer and LFL photo by Kate St. John)

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