Mar 25 2016
What an exciting day we had yesterday, the first full day of a new male peregrine at Pitt!
Many of you watched the falconcam but all the action was in the air. Of course! Peregrines are famous for top speed flight so naturally they show off their talents in courtship.
Six (and more) of us watched from vantage points in Oakland throughout the day and kept each other up to date on the latest activity. The male’s flight displays were breath taking.
A male peregrine’s first priority is to claim and secure the territory. The new guy made all the right moves: kiting above the Cathedral of Learning, racing across and around the “cliff” face, ostentatiously stooping on prey, and attacking other predators. The local red-tailed hawks took the brunt of his ire. They may have to reconsider their nest location in a tree next to the Cathedral!
Hope and her new mate were conspicuous when they perched. They even mated on the lightning rod, something I hadn’t seen since the days when Dorothy was a younger bird and E2 was new to the site. It’s the ultimate signal that “This cliff is ours!”
The male rarely perched but when he landed above the nest, Hope bowed and ee-chupped. Here’s where he is when she does that:
And … when you hear Hope shouting before dawn (above) she’s making a sound like the begging call. Peregrine males must provide food for their mates during egg-laying, incubation and brooding. The first food delivery is usually at dawn. By calling like this Hope is reminding him of his obligations. She is one loud bird!
Read more here about the details of peregrine courtship in this article: All The Right Moves.
Your Questions: I love to answer your questions but I cannot respond to redundant ones. Questions about Hope’s eggs are answered at this blog post and in the comments which follow it. Please click the link and read the entries before posting a redundant question.
Hope’s loose feather: The feather is not a problem. It will fall out eventually. In the meantime we’ve found it useful for telling the difference between Hope and the male in flight. (Hays bald eagle observers can tell you they use a similar feather trait to identify the eagles at Hays.)
(top photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh. photo of male by John English)
UPDATE: The male came to the nest this morning, March 25, and we captured photos of his bands: Black/Red N/29. Art McMorris, PA Game Commission Peregrine Coordinator, is researching the bird’s origin. He says it will take some time (maybe days) because the band is not in the databases. Art is making phone calls. Please be patient! (Remember, this is Easter weekend so the person who knows the answer may be on vacation.)