C1 flaps her wings near the green carpet that detached from the front perch (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Last night viewers noticed a new feature on the nestbox gravel that they’d never seen before. It’s a patch of fake grass carpet that used to be glued to the front perch.
At 9:49pm the carpet began to roll off the perch while Hope was standing on it.
The fake grass carpet starts to roll off the perch (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
She pulled it away. (Good job!)
Hope moves the green carpet out of the way (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
The green carpet has been on that perch for nine years. It was only a matter of time before the backing crumbled from sunlight (UV) exposure. Yesterday it loosened up when Dan Brauning had to stand on the nestbox to convince Hope to stop attacking the back of his head. That was just enough to make the glue spots fail.
Peregrine chick C1 cowers in the back of the nestbox while Dan Brauning stands on the green perch to fend off her mother’s attacks (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
So now there’s a patch of green carpet and a reddish circle floating around in the nestbox. You can see the backing still stuck to spots on the railing.
This fall when the nesting season is over we’ll remove the fallen carpet and that annoying red circle (people mistake it for an egg) and install new green carpet on the perch to make a soft place to stand.
How long will C1 have to live with that carpet? I predict she’ll be out of the nest permanently by June 11.
A closeup of female peregrine chick C1 from the Cathedral of Learning nest 2016 (photo by Peter Bell)
It’s taken me a while to publish this because I couldn’t take any photos at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine banding this morning. Thanks to Peter Bell, Kim Getz and John English for lending theirs.
At today’s banding we learned, first and foremost, that C1 is a healthy female and Hope and Terzo are devoted parents.
Even before the PA Game Commission‘s Dan Brauning retrieved the chick, Hope guarded her baby and didn’t give up until C1 was indoors. Then she stayed at the nest kakking while Terzo provided backup support.
Kim’s (silent) video below shows the perspective from the ground about halfway through: Terzo flying back and forth, Hope leaving the nest to attack the humans when C1 was returned, then perched on the bulwark after they’re gone.
Here’s why I didn’t take any pictures: Dan Brauning asked me to hold C1 while he applied the bands. (You can see I was concentrating very hard!)
Dan Brauning explains the banding procedure while Kate St. John holds peregrine chick, C1 (photo by John English)
Dan weighed C1 (900 grams), checked for trichomoniasis (none!) and feather pests (almost none). He dusted under her wings with anti-parasite powder and applied her bands. Here she is with her new jewelry.
Peregrine chick, C1, with her new bands, Black/green, 06/BR (photo by Peter Bell)
Then Dan braved Hope’s wrath to return C1 to the nest.
Female peregrine, Hope, attacks the banders on Banding Day 2016, Cathedral of Learning (photo by Peter Bell)
Hope shouts at the banders, Banding Day 2016, Cathedral of Learning (photo by Peter Bell)
What a privilege to hold the chick and see her parents protecting her!
It’s a shame this will be the only peregrine banding in western Pennsylvania this year. Here’s why:
Why weren’t more peregrines banded in Penna. this year?
Peregrines are endangered in Pennsylvania so the PA Game Commission (PGC) normally visits every known nest site and attempts to band the chicks — that’s 9 locations in western Pennsylvania. But this year severe budget cuts and layoffs forced PGC to band at only one site in the western half of the state — the Cathedral of Learning.
Why does PGC have a budget crisis? They don’t rely on state tax dollars. They’re self-supporting through hunting license fees, timber sales, mineral extraction, and a federal excise tax on ammunition. But state law forbids them to raise the license fees that comprise 40% of their revenue. There hasn’t been an increase since the 1990’s.
If you live in Pennsylvania, you can help.
The Pennsylvania State House and Senate must pass a law — SB 1166 — to allow the Game Commission to raise the license fees. Contact your State Senator and State Representative (find them here) and urge them to support “SB 1166.”
Click here for a letter about the budget crisis and information on what you can do.
C1 pants in the heat as Hope perches in the sun (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
The peregrine family at the Cathedral of Learning is in for some excitement today. Hope and Terzo’s chick, C1, will be banded this morning.
Just after 10:00am Dan Brauning of the Pennsylvania Game Commission will venture out on the Cathedral of Learning ledge. Don’t be shocked when you hear the peregrines “kakking” and the chick disappears for a while. The falconcams will continue to run while the chick is absent.
C1 will receive a health check and some new “jewelry” and will be returned to the nest very quickly. A side benefit is that we’ll learn whether he’s a “she” or a “he.”
Watch my blog for photos of the event later today.
p.s. It’s exceptionally warm here in Pittsburgh this week. As shown in the photo above, you’ll see C1 panting and holding his wings open to stay cool.
(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh)
Note: I don’t announce the banding in advance because the event is not open to the public. The room is too small to allow for uninvited guests.
Terzo delivers a black-feathered prey item to the nest. Hope retrieves it. C1 watches (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
In years past, Pitt peregrine watchers were used to seeing a very messy nest on camera. Dorothy, the previous resident female, usually plucked prey at the nest soon after she was done brooding. In those years the nest normally looked like this.
This year the nest has been amazingly clean … until yesterday. At 6:45am Terzo brought a black-feathered prey item to the nest. Hope took it from him and plucked it while C1 watched. (It was a male red-winged blackbird.)
Hope plucks the prey item – a red-winged blackbird — as C1 looks on (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
I finally figured out there’s a good reason for making a mess. C1 will soon be old enough to eat on his own and will need to know how to pluck prey and tear it up. The best way to learn is by watching. Yesterday Hope showed him by example.
By the end of the month C1 will be grabbing the food and plucking it himself. In the meantime I’m sure he’ll watch more food preparation demonstrations.
Breakfast is served amid the feathers (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Peregrine (maybe Dori) on Wood Street Commons Building, Pittsburgh, 12 May 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
Last week Lori Maggio visited Third Avenue between Wood and Smithfield to take photos of the Downtown peregrines. Look closely and you can see that both birds are banded. Unfortunately we can’t read the bands yet.
Though we’re not sure of this pair’s identity, the choice of nest site behind 322 Fourth Ave leads me to believe the female is still Dori.
Dori on a gargoyle at Point Park’s Lawrence Hall, 11 May 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
My guess is that the bird pictured below is the male. Is this Louie? We don’t know. Louie is 14 years old now — quite old for a peregrine — so it’s possible he was replaced by a new male.
Peregrine atop 322 Fourth Ave above the nest, 11 May 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
Both adults like to perch on the turquoise-colored “shields” on top of Wood Street Commons.
(Maybe the male) Peregrine perched on top of Wood Street Commons Building, 11 May 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
The adults go in and out of the nest with food, indicating there are young at the nest.
Peregrine flies to the nest area — in and out — 11 May 2016 (photos by Lori Maggio)
We won’t know how old the nestlings are until they appear at the edge of the opening.
Feeding time for peregrine chicks in Hokkaido, Japan. (screenshot from Eduence Field Productions Ltd)
Most of us have never seen peregrines nesting at wild cliffs so it’s a real pleasure to find this excellent video from Hokkaido, Japan showing a pair nesting by the sea.
Click on the screenshot above to watch peregrines’ family life as the chicks grow up from ages two to five weeks.
Here’s what you’ll see:
The male chases dense flocks of birds to separate out a single bird and capture it.
1st feeding, chicks 2 weeks old (This is C1’s age today at Pitt): The male brings food close to the nest but not into it. The female leaves the nest to take the prey and carries it back to the nest to feed the chicks. If you were watching this feeding on a nestcam you would not see the male at all and might mistakenly think the female does all the hunting. Nope.
2nd feeding, chicks 3 weeks old: The chicks have full crops showing as gray bulges on their throats. This is a sign they are well fed. (You can see this bulge already on C1’s throat when he is full.) The chicks are not very hungry so after their mother eats she takes away the leftovers to cache them.
3rd feeding, chicks 4 weeks old: The chicks are half brown with growing feathers. They rush at their parents to grab the food and eat it on their own.
Ledge walking and learning to fly, 5 weeks old: One chick flaps and lands at the bottom of the cliff in the water. Notice that he can swim! He gets out of the water and climbs the cliff. 🙂
Nestcams see such a tiny piece of birds’ lives that you might misunderstand what’s going on.
Peregrines are fascinating when you watch them from the ground.
2012 peregrine chick at entrance to the nest in Downtown Pittsburgh. This nest is being used again in 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)
Congratulations to Lori Maggio whose search for perching peregrines has paid off. She found the nest site of the Downtown peregrines!
Lori walks to and from her workplace at the USX Tower and often walks at lunchtime so when I asked folks to look for peregrines Downtown, she decided to help.
It was a fruitless effort until Monday May 9 when she found a peregrine perched on a high railing at Point Park’s Lawrence Hall. Later that day she stopped by and a peregrine was perched there again.
Then yesterday, May 10, she saw a peregrine take food to the nest! Both adults went into the nest and came out after about 30 seconds. Are the young old enough to feed themselves? If so we should be seeing them at the nest opening soon.
If you’d like to help watch for activity, visit 3rd Avenue between Smithfield and Wood Streets. Heading down 3rd Avenue (it’s one way), pause at the parking lot that runs between 3rd and 4th Avenues. Facing Wood Street, look up to the right and you’ll see a building that has looks like this.
The back of 322 Fourth Ave as seen from 3rd Avenue (photo by Kate St. John)
Look for activity at the opening, as shown in the top photo, and let me know if you see a chick. We won’t know when to have Fledge Watch until we know how old the chicks are.