Category Archives: Peregrines

Two Flew At Pitt

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)

Flap & Fledge News, Jun 6

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)

Flap & Fledge News, Jun 5

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)

Flap & Fledge News, Jun 3

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)

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)

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.

http://www.birdsoutsidemywindow.org/peregrine-faqs/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)

Gulf Tower Fledgling Update, May 30

Two chicks at Gulf Tower nest, 30 May 2017 at 7:39pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)
Two chicks at Gulf Tower nest, 30 May 2017 at 7:39pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Yesterday at Gulf Tower Fledge Watch it appeared that one, maybe two, of the peregrine chicks had fledged.  I found one chick off camera on the same level as the nest.  Where were the other two?

I used this clue: Find the parents and look where they are looking.  Yesterday Dori and Louie often perched just above the observation deck and stared at the deck floor.  I wondered if one or both were there.

Last evening Anne Marie Bosynak stopped by Flag Plaza and saw all three youngsters.  One had fledged to the observation deck area.  (Aha!)  The other two were on the nest level.

By 7:30pm two birds were back on camera.  This morning all three are off camera again. They will probably fly today.

I won't be holding a Gulf Tower Fledge Watch but if you're downtown keep your eyes on the sky and on nearby buildings.  The Gulf Tower peregrine chicks are learning to fly.

 

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower)

Why Peregrines Don’t Fledge In The Rain

Gulf Tower peregrine nest on a wet morning, 27 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)
Gulf Tower peregrine nest on a wet morning, 27 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Why do I cancel Fledge Watch if it's raining?  Am I just a wimp about getting wet?

No.  It's because there's nothing to see.  Young peregrines avoid flying in the rain.

On a peregrine's first flight he needs some wind -- not too much! -- and an updraft to hold him up.  He also needs to be in good flight condition with strong muscles and dry feathers.

Wet feathers are heavy and make it hard to fly.  Birds know this instinctively so they wait until they've dried off.

Bird rehabbers know this, too.  When a young peregrine is rescued from the street, the rescuer wets him down before putting him out on a high ledge to start over.  Wet feathers prevent the rescued peregrine from leaping out of the rescuers hands.

There is one exception to this first flight rule.  When there's danger at the nest, peregrine chicks of this age will fly, even in poor conditions, even if they've never flown before -- but it can end badly in a crash.

What danger could there be at a city nest?  Humans!  We are the peregrines' #1 enemy.  That's why it's important for all of us to stay away from peregrine nests and the windows that look out on them during these last days before first flight.

 

p.s.  Today, Tuesday May 30, there is no chance of rain and the peregrines haven't flown yet so ...  I'll be at Gulf Tower Fledge Watch, 11:30a-1:30p, on the sidewalk leading up to the Pennsylvanian railroad station.  Details here.

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Two Fledge Watches: Gulf and Pitt

Three young peregrines at the Gulf Tower, 29 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)
Three young peregrines at the Gulf Tower, 29 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Two Fledge Watch locations this week!

Gulf Tower Fledge Watch continues May 29 and 30:

Even though you don't always see them on camera the three young peregrines at the Gulf Tower haven't flown yet.  There are still two more days of Gulf Tower Fledge Watch:

  • Today, May 29 Memorial Day, 11:30a - 1:30p at the Flag Plaza parking lot.  Plenty of free parking!
  • May 30, 11:30a-1:30p at the sidewalk leading up to the Pennsylvanian railroad station.

 

Meanwhile across town ...

Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch is scheduled for June 2-6:

Three peregrine chicks at Cathedral of Learning, 29 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Three peregrine chicks at Cathedral of Learning, 29 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

The peregrine chicks at the Cathedral of Learning are losing their down and turning brown so it's time to plan for Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch.

Meet me and/or John English of Pittsburgh Falconuts at the Schenley Plaza tent, Friday June 2 through Tuesday June 6, 11:30a - 1:30p.

Click here for a Google map of Schenley Plaza.

Schenley Plaza tent (photo by Kate St. John)
Schenley Plaza tent

As always, check the Events page for last minute updates.  Fledge Watch will be canceled if it's raining.

What a busy week!  It's convenient that the two nests hatched a week apart.

 

(peregrine photos from the National Aviary falconcams at Gulf Tower and Cathedral of Learning. Schenley Plaza tent photo by Kate St. John)

Gulf Tower Fledge Watch Update, May 26 & 27

Gulf Tower, location of nest as seen from Flag Plaza (photo by John English)
Gulf Tower, location of nest as seen from Flag Plaza (photo by John English)

Yes!  Gulf Tower Fledge Watch at Flag Plaza today, Sunday May 28, 11:30a to 1:30p.

Yesterday, Saturday May 27, I stuck to my plan but I missed some fun.

It rained in the morning so I didn't plan to hold a Gulf Tower Fledge Watch at Flag Plaza.  However, the rain stopped by noon so John English, John Bauman and Anne Marie Bosnyak went over to see what was up.  Here are John English's pictures.

At top is the view of the Gulf Tower with the nest area circled in yellow.  It's very easy to see the peregrines with binoculars.  John took these photos through his scope.

Below, one peregrine chick perches on the pillar near the nest.  You can see the falconcam from Flag Plaza.

One young peregrine perched on the pillar at the Gulf Tower nest (photo by John English)
One young peregrine perched on the pillar at the Gulf Tower nest (photo by John English)

 

Louie, circled top left, and Dori, circled at right, watch over the "kids" at the nest (yellow square) as fledging time approaches.  They're waiting for the next step:

When a chick flies for the first time one of the parents, usually the male, follows the chick to its landing place and makes sure it's safe.  If all is well, the parent brings food to the chick at its new perch.  To us humans it looks like food is the reward for a job well done.

Both peregrine parents watch the 'kids' as fledging time approaches (photo by John English)
Both peregrine parents watch the 'kids' as fledging time approaches (photo by John English)

 

My reluctance to vary Saturday's Watch schedule was due to my experience on Friday May 26.

The weather forecast said the rain would end around 11am but it was still pouring at 11:15a so I posted to Twitter and Facebook that I wouldn't be Downtown until noon.  Unfortunately, Margaret was already on her way and wondered where I was when she arrived at 11:30a.  She sat out the rain under the railroad station portico, out of sight of the sidewalk were I set up my scope at noon.

After the drizzle stopped, Janine and Barb stopped over from the Federal Building around 1pm.  We were thrilled to see Louie hunting close by as he dove on two mourning doves near the Federated Investors building.  The doves escaped.  Whoosh!

Margaret found us at 1:15pm.  It started to rain hard at 1:30pmso Fledge Watch ended.

Fortunately, the weather looks good today and tomorrow so I'll be at Flag Plaza both days, 11:30a to 1:30p.

 

(photos by John English, Pittsburgh Falconuts)