The Downtown peregrines haven't been at the Gulf Tower since March 1 and we think we know why. Though no one can see the nest, the peregrines' behavior indicates they have eggs at Third Avenue this year.
Maria Ochoa, who lives in the "Rescue Porch" apartment in Point Park's Lawrence Hall, has seen peregrines frequently outside her window. One of them stared at her this week (above).
Downtown peregrine monitor, Lori Maggio, says that activity at Third Avenue ramped up on March 2 and intensified as the days went by. She and I both visited the area on March 8 and saw the pair mate repeatedly. And Lori has seen them doing nest exchanges since March 10.
A nest exchange is when one peregrine goes into the nest to relieve his/her mate who is keeping the eggs warm or guarding the chicks. Lori photographed a nest exchange at Third Avenue yesterday, 15 March.
At this point in March the Downtown peregrines will have chosen a nest site and will be staying near it.
The pair is only seen at Third Avenue now and never at the Gulf Tower.
Dori has made her choice. It's Third Avenue this year.
If you were watching the Cathedral of Learning falconcam around 12:20pm today you saw Hope lay her fourth egg of 2018. I happened to be away from my computer so I missed it. Thank you to Jennifer, Debbie Key and Carol D. for letting me know.
If this is her last egg, then she probably began incubation yesterday. Add 32 days to yesterday's date and you'll get an approximate hatch date.
However, only Hope knows if she has a fifth egg coming. If she does, then she'll delay incubation and that will delay the hatch date.
Hope, the female peregrine falcon at the Cathedral of Learning, laid her third egg of the season early this morning March 12 at 2:10am. Thanks to Nicole Brant for posting a comment with the date and time.
Hope will probably lay a fourth egg but the timing may be longer than the last two. Her last two eggs were laid 62 to 64 hours apart, but her fourth egg last year was more than 90 hours after the third. Will she follow that pattern this year?
Several friends were watching the falconcam yesterday, March 9, as Hope laid her second egg at 11:21am. I heard the news immediately even though I couldn't touch my cellphone (I was driving).
Experienced egg watchers knew she was laying an egg because she stood above the scrape for a while with her tail down, then raised it as shown above. This posture is subtle in the still photo but obvious on streaming video.
It was cold yesterday -- only 31 degrees F -- so the peregrines stayed on the eggs to keep them from freezing.
Yesterday I went on a peregrine walk-and-bus tour in the City of Pittsburgh.
At Schenley Plaza both peregrines were easy to find perched on the south face of the Cathedral of Learning. When Hope visited the nest, I heard Terzo kakking as he chased off a local red-tailed hawk. He isn't mellow toward his neighbors in the spring.
Later in Downtown Pittsburgh I found no peregrines at the Gulf Tower but a lot of activity on Third Avenue. Dori flew from place to place stirring up the pigeons while Louie perched at the nest opening or on the blue-green crossbar above it.
Both flew of them overhead and were easy to identify by size.
Then Dori alighted on the blue-green shield at the corner of Third and Wood and assumed the "come hither" position. (She isn't posed like that below. Lori Maggio took this photo a week ago.)
And Louie flew in to mate with her. Eggs are on the way.
With so much peregrine activity at Third Avenue I wondered if the peregrines have tipped the scales away from the Gulf Tower this year. Lori Maggio, who monitors the Downtown peregrines, says their constant presence here is similar to 2016 when they nested at Third Avenue.
Without a webcam we can only learn the answer through on-the-ground observation. If you'd like to join this effort, stop by Third Avenue and let me know what you see. Click here for information and directions.
In March Pennsylvania's peregrine falcons stay close to home, defending their territory and engaging in courtship. The females will lay eggs this month.
1. Downtown Pittsburgh:
On Thursday March 1, Dori spent the entire day alone at the Gulf Tower. She appeared to be watching and waiting for Louie, though he never arrived. At age 16 Louie is quite old for a peregrine so he's probably being challenged by a younger male this spring.
The next day all was well. Lori Maggio found both peregrines at Lawrence Hall on Third Avenue, Louie circled on the left, Dori on the right.
All of Downtown Pittsburgh is "home" for this pair but where will they nest? We won't know until Dori lays her first egg some time between March 8 and April 2. It may take us a while to find out.
2. Cathedral of Learning:
At the University of Pittsburgh, Hope spends her nights at the nest, a sign that she's thinking of egg laying. In the two years she's nested at Pitt her first egg dates were March 13 and 15.
Terzo visits the nest, too, and calls for her to bow with him. Yesterday she didn't feel like it.
There are now ten sites in western Pennsylvania where peregrine falcons have been seen at home this March. From Pittsburgh to Erie, stop at these sites for a look. Click here for directions.
Downtown Pittsburgh at the Gulf Tower and on Third Avenue near Point Park University
Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh
Westinghouse Bridge, Allegheny County, over Turtle Creek
McKees Rocks Bridge, Allegheny County, over the Ohio River
Neville Island I-79 Bridge, Allegheny County, over the Ohio River
Monaca-East Rochester Bridge -or- Monaca-to-Beaver RR Bridge, Beaver County, both span the Ohio River
Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny-Westmoreland County, over the Allegheny River
The Route 422 Graff Bridge, Kittanning, Armstrong County, over the Allegheny River
NEW! Route 51 Elizabeth Bridge, Allegheny County, over the Monongahela River (Check the superstructure.)
Erie Waterfront, Erie County, PA
(photos from the National Aviary falconcams at Pitt and Gulf; click on the images to watch the falconcams)
After Pittsburgh's Downtown peregrines visited the Gulf Tower a week ago, Lori Maggio says they've been hanging out at the Third Avenue nest site.
Lori walks to work across the Smithfield Street Bridge and can see into the nest from a distance. Her zoom camera shows what it looks like. There's a peregrine in there!
On Saturday afternoon, February 10, I stopped by for a look and found both peregrines at home. One was at the nest ledge (closeup above is from Lori in 2016). The other was on a Lawrence Hall gargoyle. I took two lousy cellphone photos and marked them up.
If my camera was better, here's what the gargoyle peregrine would have looked like (closeup from Lori in 2016).
The peregrines' recent interest in the Third Avenue site might not mean they'll nest there. Last year they hung out at Third Avenue right up to the day before Dori's first egg but she laid it at the Gulf Tower. We won't know which nest site she's chosen until mid to late March.
There's something in the Gulf Tower's favor: The building below the Third Avenue nest site is under renovation, as shown in my nest-ledge photo. Dori won't want to use the Third Avenue site if workmen are visibly active there.
(photos by Lori Maggio and Kate St. John; see photo credits in the captions)
Peregrine fans were happy to see the Downtown pair at the Gulf Tower last weekend.
On Saturday Louie watched from the pillar at dusk. On Sunday they bowed together in the afternoon and Dori stopped by at sunset.
Here are two slideshows showing their activity, one from each day.
Louie visits on Saturday, 3 February 2018, 5:20 to 5:35pm:
... and they both visit on Sunday, 4 February 2018, 1:44 to 1:54pm:
Louie waits for Dori to arrive
Louie bows (Dori is hidden behind the pillar)
Dori preens at the nest
... and she tries out the left-hand scrape
Dori watches from the pillar
This weekend Dori and Louie provided a convenient way to tell who's who when they perch on the pillar. Here's a comparison photo with tips below. The obelisk on the horizon above their heads is the Cathedral of Learning. It's a very useful landmark.
Who's who on the Gulf Tower pillar:
When Louie's on the pillar, he's small enough that you can see some of Oakland between the base of the Cathedral of Learning and the top of his head.
When Dori's on the pillar, she wears the Cathedral of Learning like a hat. There's very little space between her head and the base of the building.