Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

Nov 11 2015

We Need A Makeover

Published by under Peregrines

Two peregrines visit the Gulf Tower nest, confirmed to be Louie and Dori, Nov 9, 2015 (photo by Ann Hohn)

Louie and Dori visit the Gulf Tower nest, 9 Nov 2015 (photo by Ann Hohn)

On Monday afternoon Ann Hohn at Make-A-Wish heard a pair of peregrine falcons conversing at the unused Gulf Tower nest.

When she looked through the blinds she found Dori gazing at the nest and Louie watching her reaction.  Ann sent me this photo and wrote:

Louie is on the far left (it’s definitely him; I saw his tags). Dori is on the right (tags are green3/top and blackM/bottom).  Chirping like crazy. That’s how I knew they were here. And then they were gone.

Here’s what Dori was looking at:  Some very healthy weeds!

Weeds at the Gulf Tower nest as of Nov 10, 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Weeds at the Gulf Tower nest as of Nov 10, 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Perhaps she was thinking, “This is OK, but it needs a makeover.”

Art McMorris, Peregrine Coordinator for the PA Game Commission, says the thriving weeds indicate the gravel isn’t draining any more and that’s bad for keeping peregrine eggs dry.  More than just weeding, the site needs new gravel.  He says the Game Commission will replace the gravel soon.

Makeover!

 

(photo by Ann Hohn)

6 responses so far

Oct 29 2015

Yes, They’re At Home

E2: hoping Dorothy will take the hint, 24 Oct 2015 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

E2 at the nest perch, 24 Oct 2015 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Yesterday Barbara Hancey asked if Dorothy and E2 are still at home at the Cathedral of Learning.

Yes, they are.

On campus my friend Karen Lang and I have seen at least one peregrine, sometimes both, several times a week. The birds are much less active than they are in the spring and they have very little interest in visiting the nest.

Like all birds peregrine falcons are sensitive to seasonal light changes.  As the days get shorter their reproductive hormones cease and their interest in breeding — and in the nest — ceases, too.

The snapshots above (E2) and below (Dorothy) show they currently visit about once a week.  This frequency will drop even further and won’t ramp up again until February.

Dorothy makes a quick visit to the nest,19 Oct 2015 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy makes a quick visit to the nest,19 Oct 2015 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

 

(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera at the University of Pittsburgh)

p.s. This is not an egg.  It’s a reddish hole-punch that blew into the nest on the windy day, Oct 29.

Reddish hole-punch that blew into the Pitt peregrine nest on Oct 29, 2015

Reddish hole-punch that blew into the Pitt peregrine nest on Oct 29, 2015

17 responses so far

Jul 21 2015

Showing Her Age

Published by under Peregrines

Dorothy sleeping at the nest in July (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy sleeping at the nest in July (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Peregrine falcons sleep standing up. They don’t lie down on the nest unless they are incubating.  Here Dorothy is making an exception.

In April we’d expect to see her sleeping over her eggs at the Cathedral of Learning but she never has eggs in July.  In her first 14 years of life she didn’t slept prone at the nest unless she had eggs.

Now at age 16, Dorothy is an elderly wild peregrine.  A year ago she started sleeping at the nest like this in the summer.

She’s tired.  She’s showing her age.

 

p.s. If you have not seen the sad news of this year’s Pitt peregrine chick (published Monday afternoon) click here.

(photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at University of Pittsburgh)

14 responses so far

Jul 20 2015

Sad News About Pitt Peregrine Chick

Published by under Peregrines

Screenshot of the peregrine nicknamed Silver, 8 July 2015 (courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

Screenshot of the peregrine nicknamed Silver, 8 July 2015 (courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

Peregrine Update from ARL Wildlife Center, 20 July 2015, 4:00 pm:

It is with heavy hearts that we must share the news of the passing of the Peregrine Falcon we accepted from the Cathedral of Learning. After weeks with little change to its status, the bird experienced a sudden drop in weight – despite routine hand feedings & daily weight monitoring.

After discovering signs of a respiratory illness on Saturday morning, a staff member rushed the falcon to an emergency clinic in Cleveland to see avian specialist Dr. Jamie Lindstrom. Dr. Lindstrom is renowned for his knowledge & experience with wild birds, having authored numerous academic articles & speeches, as well as serving in leadership roles in several avian organizations.

While receiving top-notch care at the hospital, the falcon passed away. Dr. Lindstrom felt strongly that the illness was linked to the animal being developmentally delayed, immuno-suppressed & a failure to thrive & diagnosed him with a chronic pulmonary obstructive disease. Unfortunately, there was nothing further that any of the doctors could do.

The staff of the Animal Rescue League thank you for your support & well wishes throughout this process.  May the Peregrine’s spirit fly, free of the burdens that plagued him during his short life.

 

(screenshot of peregrine falcon hatched at Cathedral of Learning in May 2015)

45 responses so far

Jul 19 2015

Unused Nest

Published by under Peregrines,Plants

Weeds at the Gulf Tower peregrine nest, July 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Weeds at the Gulf Tower peregrine nest, July 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

What happens when a long established peregrines’ ledge goes unused for a season?

Weeds grow.

This snapshot from the Gulf Tower nest shows that Nature takes over after 24 years of use, even on a skyscraper.

How did the plants get up so high?  Some may have sprouted from wind-borne seeds, but others arrived as seeds in the digestive tracks of birds the peregrines ate at the nest.  The annuals re-seed in place year after year.

The big plant at back left is pokeweed whose berries are food for many birds including robins and cedar waxwings.

Can you identify the other plants and guess how they got there?

 

p.s. The Downtown peregrines haven’t forgotten about the Gulf Tower.  One stopped by last Thursday, July 16, in this photo from Ann Hohn at Make-A-Wish.

Peregrine at the Gulf Tower, 15 July 2015 (photo from Ann Hohn)

Peregrine at the Gulf Tower, 15 July 2015 (photo from Ann Hohn)

 

(weeds photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower; peregrine photo from Ann Hohn at Make-A-Wish)

5 responses so far

Jul 13 2015

Father-Daughter Pair in Norfolk

'Dad' and 'tHE Missus', Norfolk, Virginia (photos by Mike Inman, used by permission)

‘Dad’ and his mate ‘HE’ in Norfolk, Virginia, 2015 (photos by Mike Inman used by permission)

In a recent Peregrine FAQ I described how peregrine falcons are not social creatures like we are.  In fact most raptors don’t hang out with their relatives, so that siblings from different years and birds separated by more than one generation can’t know that they’re related.

Since they don’t know their relatives, how do raptors avoid interbreeding?  By traveling.

Young raptors naturally disperse far from home and females typically travel twice as far as males, thereby mixing the gene pool.  Here’s how far some of Pittsburgh’s peregrines traveled from where they were born:

  • Downtown Pittsburgh: Louie dispersed 2.3 miles, Dori traveled 93 miles from Akron, Ohio
  • Cathedral of Learning: E2 dispersed 2.3 miles, Dorothy traveled 450 miles from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Neville Island I-79: Beau dispersed 10.7 miles, Magnum traveled 79 miles from Canton, Ohio

Bald eagles are much more social than peregrines. They fish and roost together in early winter but when it comes time to breed they disperse far and wide.  Close interbreeding among bald eagles is rare.

That’s why it was such a surprise to discover that this year’s pair nesting near Norfolk Botanical Garden is father and daughter.

The male is not banded but he has a unique tiny black dot in his left iris, called an inclusion, that’s visible in good photographs. This identified him as the 25-year-old male that used to nest in the Garden.

His mate is banded with the code “HE,” a band she received six years ago when she was a nestling at Norfolk Botanical Garden.  Yes, she’s his daughter.

Their close relationship was reported this spring by the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) that monitors bald eagles in Virginia and banded “HE” in 2009.   CCB’s blog article provides details and photos.

It’s unusual for a female to settle so close to her birthplace but this location has had many challenges.  After the old female was killed by an airplane at nearby Norfolk International Airport in 2011, eagles were no longer allowed to nest at the Garden.  The male and all his potential mates were harassed away.  Nine nests were destroyed.  All the females left. The male didn’t nest for three years.  (Click here for the story.)

Unusual as this pairing is, the good news is that he finally found a mate, they found a safe place to nest, and together they fledged one eaglet on May 29.

It all worked out in the end.

 

(photos of the NBG pair courtesy of Mike Inman, inmansimages.com)

p.s. As part of their monitoring efforts CCB recently identified a female bald eagle with an unusual story. Click here to read about ‘Dolly’, born at the Birmingham (Alabama) Zoo to injured, unreleasable parents, she now nests along the James River in Virginia.

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Jul 09 2015

He’s A Boy

Published by under Peregrines

Peregrine nicknamed "Silver" at ARL Wildlife Center, 8 July 2015 (courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

Video screenshot of peregrine falcon “Silver” at ARL Wildlife Center, 8 July 2015 (courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

Late yesterday afternoon the ARL Wildlife Center posted a short video and this update on their Facebook page.  Click here or on the photos to see the video.

Peregrine Update:

It’s a boy! X-ray reports have revealed that the falcon is a male. We have also received the results from initial blood tests which have all been normal. We are still waiting for the reports from the lead test, but the bird is gaining weight & his flight feathers continue to grow. We will continue to provide public updates on the peregrine as soon as new information develops, but are unable to respond to individual inquiries about this patient.

Screenshot of Silver, 8 July 2015 (courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

Video screenshot of peregrine falcon “Silver” at ARL Wildlife Center, 8 July 2015 (courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

 

(Posted on Facebook by Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, approximately 4:30pm)

NOTE:  As you can see, my news cycle is typically 13-15 hours later than ARL’s Facebook posts.  For up-to-the-minute news from ARL, check their Facebook page at Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center. Their page is public.  You don’t have to join Facebook to see it.

p.s. Here’s an informative July 9 article from Pitts’ University Times and standing on one leg is normal.

17 responses so far

Jul 06 2015

From A Different Angle

Published by under Peregrines

Peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 3 July 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 3 July 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

With access denied to private property under the Westinghouse Bridge(*) we’re exploring public property to see the peregrines who nest there.

Over the weekend Dana Nesiti tried two locations at the East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard Bridge.  The sidewalk (topside) is the closest and shows off the birds from a different angle.

Here he captured some great shots of the adults in the sun.

Peregrine lifting off, Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Peregrine lifting off, Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Peregrine lifting off, Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Peregrine lifting off, Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Dana Nesiti)

… and this one of Storm on the catwalk perch.

Peregrine at the Westinghouse Bridge, 3 July 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Peregrine at the Westinghouse Bridge, 3 July 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

The youngsters were hard to see on Friday but by Saturday they were ledge walking far and wide on the big arch.  With my scope, John English and I could easily see one walking and squawking for food.

On Sunday they made practice flights.

Young peregrine practice flight at Westinghouse Bridge, 5 July 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Young peregrine practice flight at Westinghouse Bridge, 5 July 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

And seemed to be train spotting. 😉

Young peregrines (pre-fledge) at Westinghouse Bridge, 5 July 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Young peregrines (pre-fledge) at Westinghouse Bridge, 5 July 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

As you can see, “topside” is closer to the action.

 

(*) NOTE!  The place where we used to stand under the Westinghouse Bridge — and the access to it — is owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad (NSRR) and we are not allowed on it.  DO NOT go there.  NSRR is closely monitoring the site.

(photos by Dana Nesiti)

 

16 responses so far

Jul 01 2015

Pitt Peregrine Fledgling Update from ARL

Published by under Peregrines

2015 Pitt peregrine fledgling checked by vet (photo courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

2015 Pitt peregrine fledgling checked by vet (photo courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

Peregrine Update from Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center, 1 July 2015, 11:40am via Facebook … for the bird known as “Silver”:

“Wildlife Center staff took the falcon to be examined by Dr. Robert Wagner yesterday evening. A complete physical examination was conducted. The formerly missing primary feathers are almost completely grown, but our licensed rehabilitators & the veterinarian agree that the bird displays neurological deficits. A blood sample was taken to gain insight on these inconsistencies. A test is also being conducted to rule out lead poisoning. Supportive care will continue as the test results are pending. The falcon will continue to be treated by Wildlife Center staff.”

 

(photo courtesy Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center Facebook page.  Click on the image to visit their Facebook page)

21 responses so far

Jun 29 2015

She Took Off His Head

Published by under Peregrines

Storm attacks the banders, 22 June 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Storm attacks the banders, 22 June 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

A week ago two peregrine nestlings were banded at the Westinghouse Bridge.  This coming weekend we’ll hold a Fledge Watch. That’s how fast they mature and fly.

Banding Day, June 22, was the most excitement Pittsburgh Falconuts had seen for a very long time.  The mother peregrine, Storm, put on quite a show when the PA Game Commission’s Dan Brauning came to town to band her babies.

The only way to reach the nest was by using PennDOT’s bucket truck but that didn’t make it easy.  Storm lived up to her name by frequently attacking the three men in the bucket, screaming at them the entire time.

Storm hits a man in the bucket truck (photo by Thomas Moeller)

Storm hits a man in the bucket truck (photo by Thomas Moeller)

She was full of tricky maneuvers and soon made a direct hit on somebody’s helmet.  We gasped as it fell 240 feet to the ground.   My heavens, she knocked off his head!   Whew… not really.

Storm knocks off a man's helmet as the bucket approaches her nest, 22 June 2015 (photo by Thomas Moeller)

Storm knocks off a helmet as the bucket approaches her nest, 22 June 2015 (photo by Thomas Moeller)

The closer the bucket came, the harder she pushed.

PGC's Dan Brauning holds out his hand as Storm attacks (photo by Dana Nesiti)

PGC’s Dan Brauning holds out his hand to fend off Storm as she attacks (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Dan Brauning gave her something to hit — his hand.

Storm, the hand, the broom. Yikes! (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Storm, the hand, the broom. Yikes! (photo by Dana Nesiti)

She screamed non-stop for half an hour until the banding was done and the men climbed back into the bucket.  With her quiet at last on the catwalk railing, Dan Brauning took a moment to congratulate her.

Dan Brauning has a heart-to-heart talk with Storm (photo by Thomas Moeller)

After the chicks are banded, Dan Brauning has a heart-to-heart talk with Storm (photo by Thomas Moeller)

As the bucket left the scene, Dan held up two fingers.  V for victory?  No, he means “2 chicks in the nest.”   1 male, 1 female.

Victory over peregrine? No, he means there are two chicks (photo by Thomas Moeller)

Two chicks (photo by Thomas Moeller)

Applause, applause!  And we all went home.

Stay tuned for the Westinghouse Bridge Fledge Watch schedule this coming Fourth of July weekend.   –> I don’t have dates and times yet because Westinghouse site monitor John English broke a rib last Friday.  Oh no!  Get well soon, John!

UPDATE July 2, 2015:
Fledge Watch has been canceled because Norfolk Southern Railroad doesn’t want us under the bridge. That area is their property.

 

(photos by Thomas J. Moeller and Dana Nesiti)

18 responses so far

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