Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

Jul 14 2017

Only One Left

Published by under Peregrines

Juvenile female peregrine, 08/BR, at Heinz Chapel, 8 June 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

Juvenile female peregrine, 08/BR, at Heinz Chapel, 8 June 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

Yesterday I learned that this juvenile female peregrine, black green 08/BR, was found dead at Allegheny County Airport, apparently hit by a plane on Sunday July 9.

08/BR hatched at the Cathedral of Learning this year and left home to start her new life four weeks after she first learned to fly — right on time.  Just 6.3 miles away she found a big open space in which to hunt.  Alas, she didn’t know anything about airplanes.

The video below by Peter Bell shows her on 8 June 2017 at Heinz Chapel when she was new to flying.

 

Her death, and the death of her brother 09/AP, leaves only one surviving juvenile from the Cathedral of Learning 2017 nest.  With a 62.5% mortality rate in their first year of life this peregrine brood has now matched the statistics, unhappy as that is.

Meanwhile, as of today July 14, we can confirm that the remaining young female is fine.  She’s been seen and heard nearly every day in Oakland, begging from her parents in a very loud voice.  She’s due to leave home any day now.

 

(photo and video of Pitt fledgling, black/green 08/BR, by Peter Bell)

UPDATE 21 July 2017:  The young peregrine died at Allegheny County Airport, not Pittsburgh International.  Thanks to Ryan for providing the correct information in the comments.

18 responses so far

Jun 29 2017

Feathers Wear Out

Recently molted feathers of Black-legged Kittiwake (photo by Jymm in public domain on Wikimedia)

Recently molted feathers of a black-legged kittiwake (photo by Jymm in public domain on Wikimedia)

On Throw Back Thursday:

Many birds molt during summer’s “down time” between raising their young and fall migration.  At this point their feathers have worn out.

However (news to me!) female peregrine falcons choose a different time of year.  They begin to molt during incubation, a convenient time to do it because they’re temporarily sedentary and their mates supply their food.  That’s why we sometimes see a peregrine primary feather in the nest box.  Who knew!

Read more about feather wear and molting in this vintage article:

Anatomy: Feathers wear out

 

(photo from Wikimedia, in the public domain.  Click on the photo to see the original)

3 responses so far

Jun 17 2017

Unhappy Friday: Peregrine Window Kill

Published by under Peregrines

Juvenile Pitt peregrine, 09/AP, in happier days (photo by Peter Bell)

Juvenile Pitt peregrine, 09/AP, in happier days (photo by Peter Bell)

On Friday morning, 16 June 2017, this young male peregrine from the Cathedral of Learning flew head first into a window at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) on Fifth Avenue. He died instantly.

Banded black/green 09/AP, he was the adventurer among this year’s three chicks.  He flew faster, tried more stunts, and chased his parents more than his sisters do.  But, like all birds, he didn’t realize that the reflection of the sky in a window is not the sky.  He never got a second chance to learn.

When he was found dead at SEI’s front door, someone called the Pennsylvania Game Commission. WCO Kline recovered the bird’s body and took this picture of the location where he was found.  There’s a bird-strike smudge on the top right pane in the vault above the front door.

SEI front door vault where 09/AP died (photo by WCO Kline, PA Game Commission)

SEI front door vault where 09/AP died (photo by WCO Kline, PA Game Commission)

From the ground the top right window doesn’t look like the sky, does it?  At a higher elevation the windowpane reflects the sky.  The strike mark’s background is blue.

Front door vault at SEI with peregrine smudge on sky-background of top right glass (photo by Kate St. John)

Front door vault at SEI with peregrine smudge on sky-background of top right glass (photo by Kate St. John)

And here it has a dark reflected background so you can see it.

Feather dust at 09/AP's impact location (photo by Kate St. John)

Feather dust at 09/AP’s impact location (photo by Kate St. John)

 

These photos show why the building fools birds. On every side it looks like open rectangles to the sky.  In 2011, two of Pitt’s young peregrines hit the building on the Henry Street side. One died, one survived.

West wall of SEI, Dithridge Street (photo by Kate St. John)

West wall of Software Engineering Institute, Dithridge Street (photo by Kate St. John)

Front arch of Software Engineering Institute, Fifth Avenue (photo by Kate St. John)

Front arch of Software Engineering Institute, Fifth Avenue (photo by Kate St. John)

Back of Software Engineering Institute, Henry Street (photo by Kate St. John)

Back of Software Engineering Institute, Henry Street (photo by Kate St. John)

 

But this building is not unique.  Over the years young peregrines from the Cathedral of Learning have hit windows at other buildings near Fifth and Craig, died in a chimney (which has since been covered), and been hit by a vehicle.  Unfortunately peregrine mortality is 62.5% in the first year of life.

Meanwhile, windows kill one billion birds every year in the U.S.  You can help mitigate this problem by volunteering in many ways:

  • In many U.S. cities & Canada:  Volunteer with a group that rescues window-stunned birds and tracks window kills. In our area contact BirdSafe Pittsburgh (or their Facebook page).
  • If you know architects and developers, learn about bird-safe glass and urge them to use it.
  • If you have influence with LEED certification of “green” buildings, urge LEED to formally add bird-safe glass to the certification requirements (it’s in the pilot phase now).  Then urge developers to use LEED.
  • Prevent window strikes at home by treating your own windows so they don’t fool birds.

 

(photo of 09/AP by Peter Bell. photo of SEI front door area by WCO Kline; photos of SEI building by Kate St. John)

13 responses so far

Jun 09 2017

We Can Fly!

Published by under Peregrines

Pitt fledgling, male 09/AP, 8 Jun 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

Pitt fledgling, male 09/AP, 8 Jun 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

All three Pitt peregrines were airborne yesterday morning (June 8) and flying so well that they’re hard to keep track of.

By day’s end they had visited several floors of the Cathedral of Learning (CL), Heinz Chapel roof and steeple, and Alumni Hall.  Meanwhile their parents, Hope and Terzo, flew from place to place delivering food and watching the youngsters.

We could see one or two peregrines using a scope from Schenley Plaza Fledge Watch but Peter Bell got the best views by walking on the lawn near Heinz Chapel.  Great closeups!

Here’s a video of one youngster on Heinz Chapel roof.

 

She and her sibling then perched on the Chapel’s ornate posts. Can you find two juvenile peregrines in Peter’s photo?

Two fledglings perched on Heinz Chapel's ornate roof (photo by Peter Bell)

Two fledglings perched on Heinz Chapel’s ornate roof (photo by Peter Bell)

 

… and then to the steeple.

Fledgling on Heinz Chapel steeple, 8 Jun 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

Juvenile peregrine on Heinz Chapel steeple, 8 Jun 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

… and then to Alumni Hall’s roof.

Fledgling on Alumni Hall roof, 8 Jun 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

Fledgling on Alumni Hall roof, 8 Jun 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

 

Hope paused after delivering food to the Forbes Ave side of the Cathedral of Learning.

Hope (69/Z), 8 Jun 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

Hope (69/Z), 8 Jun 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

She and the youngster both had food on their beaks.  This is the juvenile male, 09/AP.

Juvenile male peregrine, 09/AP, after his meal (photo by Peter Bell)

Juvenile male peregrine, 09/AP, after his meal (photo by Peter Bell)

 

The peregrines are hard to see from Schenley Plaza so PITT PEREGRINE FLEDGE WATCH IS OVER.

You might find a few of us wandering on campus with binoculars. We can’t get enough of the best Pitt Peregrine Season we’ve had since 2012. All three are airborne. Hooray!

 

(photos and video by Peter Bell, Pitt Peregrines on Facebook)

Best Since 2012:  This is the first time in five years that we’ve had more than one juvenile peregrine at Pitt.  In 2012 Dorothy and E2 had 3 youngsters, only 1 in 2013, none in 2014, one in 2015. Hope and Terzo had only one fledgling last year, 2016.

4 responses so far

Jun 08 2017

Two Flew At Pitt

Published by under Peregrines

Pitt fledgling in flight, 7 June 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

Pitt fledgling in flight, 7 June 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

At Tuesday’s Fledge Watch we were very tired of waiting for the Pitt peregrines to fledge and someone joked, “They always fly when you’re not here, Kate.  Don’t come to Schenley Plaza tomorrow.”

It worked.  I didn’t hold a Fledge Watch on Wednesday June 7 and two of the three youngsters flew for the first time.

Kim Getz, who works at Pitt, was the first to notice.  Just after lunchtime she saw lots of flying around the top of the Cathedral of Learning so she walked around the building and found two fledglings.

I alerted Peter Bell (Pitt Peregrines on Facebook) who sent me updates when he found them.  Here are Peter’s photos of two fledglings flying and perching.

Pitt fledgling flies around the Cathedral of Learning, 7 June 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

Pitt fledgling flies around the Cathedral of Learning, 7 June 2017 (photo by Peter Bell)

This one landed with talons outstretched.  Grab that building!

Almost there! Reaching to grab the perch (photo by Peter Bell)

Almost there! Closeup of reaching to grab the perch (photo by Peter Bell)

The second fledgling perched near the northeast corner of the 30th floor.  You can’t see this bird from any window.

Pitt fledgling on a merlon, 30NE (photo by Peter Bell)

Pitt fledgling on a merlon, 30NE (photo by Peter Bell)

Now that we had some action I went down to Schenley Plaza at 3:45p and stayed for an hour.

The third chick hadn’t flown yet — and still hadn’t as of 4:45p — but her parents really wanted her to.  Hope carried food past her in the air as if to say, “If you fly you’ll get to eat.”  Hope eventually gave up and dropped off the snack.

This morning at 7:25am Karen Lang saw two fledglings perched high on the Student Union side of the Cathedral of Learning.  I plan to go to Schenley Plaza this afternoon to see what’s up.

Stop by Schenley Plaza for PITT PEREGRINE FLEDGE WATCH today, June 8, at 3:30PM.

 

(photos by Peter Bell, Pitt Peregrines on Facebook)

5 responses so far

Jun 06 2017

Flap & Fledge News, Jun 6

Published by under Peregrines

Fledgling peregrine calls to her parents, Downtown Pittsburgh, 2 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Fledgling peregrine calls to her parents, Downtown Pittsburgh, 2 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Listen for whining and watch the parents.  That’s how you’ll find peregrine falcon youngsters after they’ve fledged.

Lori Maggio has been tracking the Gulf Tower peregrines using those two clues and shared these photos from June 1 through 5.

Above, a youngster calls to her parents from a corner of the Federated Building.  Here’s where the two birds were.

Two peregrines on the Federated Building: adult on left, juvenile on right, 2 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Two peregrines on the Federated Building: adult on left, juvenile on right, 2 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

 

Look in unlikely places and you’ll find an adult peregrine perched inside the C of the UPMC sign on the US Steel Building.

Adult peregrine watches from the "C" in the UPMC sign, 1 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Adult peregrine watches from the “C” in the UPMC sign, 1 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

The fledgling was on a ledge below.

Peregrine fledgling on US Steel Building, 1 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Peregrine fledgling on US Steel Building, 1 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

 

And yesterday, a fledgling spent several hours on a 19th floor windowsill at the Gulf Tower.  The lucky folks in that office had a nice close look at a peregrine.

Peregrine fledgling on the 19th floor windowsill at Gulf Tower,5 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Peregrine fledgling on the 19th floor windowsill at Gulf Tower,5 Jun 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

 

PITT PEREGRINE FLEDGE WATCH:  The weather looks acceptable today, Tuesday 6 June 2017, so I’ll be at Schenley Plaza from 11:30a to 1:30p.

No additional Fledge Watch days are scheduled but stay tuned, especially on Facebook and Twitter, in case I decide to go to the Plaza (maybe Friday Jun 9).

 

(photos by Lori Maggio)

6 responses so far

Jun 05 2017

Flap & Fledge News, Jun 5

Published by under Peregrines

Flap-practice at the Cathedral of Learning, 4 June 2017 (photo by John English)

Flap-practice at the Cathedral of Learning, 4 June 2017 (photo by John English)

Cathedral of Learning:

It looks like this young peregrine is about to take off but he was merely flapping.  By the end of yesterday’s Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch none of the juveniles had flown.

When I arrived at Schenley Plaza I counted two young birds in view and walked around the Cathedral of Learning to listen for whining in case a bird had fledged. All was quiet but Terzo was perched on the Fifth Avenue side looking down. Was he watching over a fledgling? Perhaps.

For two hours we saw only two juveniles on the nest rail and assumed the third was elsewhere.  Then he stood up next to his siblings.  Duh!  He was sleeping in front of us!

Three juvenile peregrines in the nest rail at the Cathedral of Learning (photo by John English)

Three juvenile peregrines in the nest rail at the Cathedral of Learning, 4 June 2017 (photo by John English)

In the boring moments Terzo perched in the cache area on our side of the building.

Terzo perches at the cache area, 4 June 2017 (photo by John English)

Terzo perches at the cache area, 4 June 2017 (photo by John English)

Yesterday evening two youngsters appeared on the snapshot camera around 7p.  The one on the left is walking up to the nest rail. The one on the right is perched on the nestbox roof.  You couldn’t have seen either of them on the streaming camera.

Two young peregrines perch and walk above the nest (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Two young peregrines perch and walk above the nest (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

NO Fledge Watch today, June 5.  There’s an 60% chance of thunderstorms in the area.  Even if the storms bypass Schenley Plaza it’s too iffy to hold a Watch.

Check the Events page for news of Fledge Watch on Tuesday and beyond.

 

Gulf Tower:

In the last two days both a juvenile and Louie have appeared at the Gulf Tower nest.  They never stay long.

Juvenile peregrine at the Gulf Tower, 4 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Juvenile peregrine at the Gulf Tower, 4 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Louie before dawn at the Gulf Tower nest (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Louie before dawn at the Gulf Tower nest, 5 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Other than that, all is quiet … and that’s good news.

 

(photos from Schenley Plaza Fledge Watch by John English. Nest photos from the National Aviary falconcams at Univ. of Pittsburgh and Gulf Tower)

No responses yet

Jun 03 2017

Flap & Fledge News, Jun 3

Published by under Peregrines

Two of three young peregrines on the nest rail at Pitt, 2 June 2017 (photo by John English)

Two of three young peregrines on the nest rail at Pitt, 2 June 2017 (photo by John English)

News from four peregrine nests in the Pittsburgh area:

Cathedral of Learning:

We had a great time yesterday at Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch because all three young peregrines were visible on the nest rail. They flapped, they walked, they rested, they nagged their parents.

All three juvenile peregrines on the nest rail at the Cathedral of Learning, 2 June 2017 (photo by John English)

All three juvenile peregrines on the nest rail at the Cathedral of Learning, 2 June 2017 (photo by John English)

Come on down to Fledge Watch at Schenley Plaza today, Saturday June 3, 11:30a to 1:30p, to see what they’re up to now.   Sunday’s Fledge Watch looks good, too. (The rain and storms will hold off until late Sunday.)    Monday’s weather is not so promising.  Always check the Events page before you come to Fledge Watch in case I have to cancel for any reason.

UPDATE, Jun 3, 10:30am: There’s a big event at Flagstaff Hill. Parking is hard to find. Some streets to Schenley Plaza are closed.  Use Forbes and Fifth to get there.

 

Gulf Tower:

Juvenile peregrine rests near the nest, 12:22pm, 2 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Juvenile peregrine rests near the nest, 12:22pm, 2 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

All three juveniles are flying and hard to keep track of but there was a young peregrine at the nest on Friday morning.  She’s the one WCO Bergman of the PA Game Commission rescued from the street on Thursday evening.  As is usual after such a rescue, the young bird stayed at the nest for a while.  Her parents brought her food around 10am, she snoozed on the ledge for a couple of hours, and later flew away.  All’s well that ends well.

 

Neville Island I-79 Bridge:

Anne Marie Bosnyak reported on Pittsburgh Falconuts on Friday June 2:  “I saw 2 of the 4 peregrine falcon chicks tonight. They have come out of the nest area and were sitting on the beam. It will be difficult to see these kids fledge. I stopped under the bridge on the Glenfield side, but stood on the road outside of the welding company yard. Once they fledge I hope we’ll be able to see them from the other [Neville Island] shore (hopefully away from the water and the bridge deck!)”

 

Graff Bridge, Route 422 Kittanning, Armstrong County

Tony Bruno stopped at the Graff Bridge yesterday, June 2, and saw one juvenile peregrine.  It’s good news that this nest was successful again this year.

 

(Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch photos by John English of Pittsburgh Falconuts, peregrine nest photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

4 responses so far

Jun 02 2017

Flap & Fledge News, Jun 2

One chick flaps while the other two look upside down (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

One chick flaps while the other two look at her upside down (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

News from the two on-camera peregrine nests in Pittsburgh:

Cathedral of Learning:

The Pitt peregrine youngsters began flapping this morning before dawn.  Soon they’ll walk off camera and up to the take-off zone where they’ll spend a couple of days building their wing muscles.  They won’t be visible on camera but you can see them from Fledge Watch– June 2 to 6.

  • Visit the Events page for the Fledge Watch schedule, cancellation updates (when needed) and information on parking, food & maps at Schenley Plaza.
  • Here’s a photo and description of where the young birds go off camera before they fly.

 

Gulf Tower:

One juvenile at the Gulf Tower nest before dawn, 2 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

One juvenile at the Gulf Tower nest before dawn, 2 June 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

This morning at dawn I saw one peregrine youngster perched at the nest.  She flew shortly after this snapshot.

Last night I was in a long meeting and didn’t see a comment posted to my blog until nearly 11p (4 hours after it happened).  In the comment John wrote, “Right now there is a Peregrine on Grant street by the Federal building. Animal control is there. It is banded. This is as of 6:30pm 6/1.”

The young peregrine was probably standing on the sidewalk and needed human assistance to get up to a high perch and start over.  The bird was already in good hands when John posted the comment so I’m not worried.  I will hear more eventually and post the update here.

UPDATE, 8:15am: This morning Lori Maggio looked for the fledglings and says she may have seen all three, though she’s not sure.

 

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

3 responses so far

Jun 01 2017

Off Camera! Where Do They Go?

The entire peregrine family at the Gulf Tower, 31 May 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

The entire peregrine family at the Gulf Tower, 31 May 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

At this stage of development, the Gulf Tower peregrines are learning to fly and the Pitt peregrines are walking off the nest.  Are they in trouble when you can’t see them?  No, they’re fine.  Here’s where they go.

 

Gulf Tower:

Three peregrine chicks on the Gulf Tower, 31 may 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Three peregrine chicks on the Gulf Tower, 31 may 2017 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Yesterday, May 31, Lori Maggio stopped by the Fledge Watch site and found all five peregrines at home on the Gulf Tower.

In the photo at top, the two parents are circled on the left, three youngsters circled at various levels on the right.

The closeup points out the three juveniles.  The one at the top fledged to the observation deck level on Tuesday and is flapping in preparation for her next flight.  She flew toward the USX Tower where Lori lost sight of her.

Last evening two chicks came back to the nest to spend the night but left today at dawn and might never return.  This morning Lori reports that all three had fledged by 7:30am.  Woo hoo!

Why don’t peregrines come back to the nest forever?  The nest is the babies’ crib.  When youngsters graduate to a bigger life, they don’t want to come back to the crib.   Human children are like that, too.

 

Cathedral of Learning:

A Pitt peregrine chick looks at a sibling in the gully, 31 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

A Pitt peregrine chick looks at a sibling in the gully, 31 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

One week younger than the Gulf Tower chicks, the youngsters at the Cathedral of Learning are just starting to ledge walk and disappear from camera view.  Are they safe?  Yes.

Yesterday afternoon one of them explored below the nest while the others watched (shown above).  There’s a lot of floor space below the nest with walls all around so there’s no way a young bird can fall.  As happens every year, the youngster gets bored and walks/jumps back up to the nest surface.  Of course she does. That’s where the food is!

In the days ahead the youngsters will also walk up to the nest rail and jump over to the keyhole.  Here’s a description of where they go, complete with ledge walking photos.

Question: What is Ledge Walking?

 

To fulfill their destiny these birds have to fly.  And to fly they have to leave the camera’s view.

It’s a big world out there.  It’s time for them to go.

 

(photos of the Gulf Tower peregrines by Lori Maggio.  nest photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the Cathedral of Learning)

10 responses so far

Next »