Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

Apr 03 2016

Has Incubation Begun?

Terzo on four eggs at Pitt (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Terzo on four eggs at Pitt (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

This morning Terzo kept four eggs warm at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest while Hope left to eat breakfast.

Here he is showing off the sharp contrast between his gray back and his black head and wing tips.  Hope’s feathers do not contrast as much.

Does this mean incubation has begun?  Terzo’s action is a good indication that this may be the first day of incubation, but the pair’s activities will tell the tale.  We’ll know for sure when they’re on the eggs nearly 24×7.

How long until the eggs hatch?

Incubation lasts about 33 days.  If today is the first day of incubation, watch for hatching around May 6.  (Note that hatch date predictions are never exact!)

 

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

 

12 responses so far

Apr 02 2016

Four Peregrine Eggs at Pitt!

Hope with 4 eggs at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 2 April 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope with 4 eggs at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 2 April 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

This afternoon at about 4:35pm, Hope laid her fourth egg of the season.

Her first three eggs were fathered by her deceased mate, E2, whose body was found on March 16.  This fourth egg arrived 15 days later and is undoubtedly fathered by her new mate Terzo.

Will she lay more eggs?  We don’t know.

Will she begin incubation now?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Only Hope knows the answers to these questions.

Stay tuned on the National Aviary falconcam at University of Pittsburgh to find out.

 

UPDATE:

Here’s a video captured by Peter Fullbrandt showing Hope laying the egg.  Skip to the 5:00 mark and you will see her breathing with her beak open for about 30 seconds.  When she raises her tail (at the 5:33 mark) it’s just after she’s laid the egg, though you cannot see it.   We waited for an hour for her to move off the eggs so we could count four.

 

(photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh; video capture by Peter Fullbrandt)

8 responses so far

Mar 29 2016

His Name Is Terzo

Published by under Peregrines

Male peregrine Terzo (N29) at the Cathedral of Learning nest,29 Mar 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Male peregrine, Terzo, (bands Black/Red N/29) at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 29 Mar 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

In Pittsburgh, the tradition for naming a newly arrived adult peregrine is this:

The primary nest monitor names the bird for his/her own convenience using these two rules. If the peregrine was named at banding that name is preferred. Otherwise the primary monitor names the bird.

N29 did not receive a name on Banding Day so it was my job to decide what to call him.  After many hours of deliberation and repeated consultations with my fellow peregrine monitor, Karen Lang, …

the third male peregrine to nest at the Cathedral of Learning has a name:  Terzo.

Terzo means “third” in Italian.

 

p.s. In Italian it’s pronounced Tare-tzo. It rhymes with “scherzo.”

 

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

39 responses so far

Mar 28 2016

Mystery Solved!

Published by under Peregrines

Male peregrine at Cathedral of Learning, 25 Mar 2016, 10:50 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Male peregrine (N/29) “Terzo” at the Cathedral of Learning, 25 Mar 2016, 10:50 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Mystery solved!

The new male peregrine at the Cathedral of Learning nest — Black/Red, N/29 — hatched in 2013 at the (PNC) 4th and Vine Tower in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.

He remained a mystery for days because his band colors indicate he’s from the Midwest but Cincinnati doesn’t enter peregrine band numbers in the Midwest Peregrine Database.

This did not daunt Kathy Majich of Toronto, Canada.  Her excellent detective work uncovered a news story with a photo of N/29 on his Banding Day, Tuesday 18 June 2013, when he was about three weeks old.  She sent me this link on Saturday with a photo of him showing off his bands.

I sent Kathy’s link to Art McMorris who contacted Ohio DNR.  Jennifer Norris sent confirmation today, adding that N/29’s parents are “feisty” … so we’ll have that to look forward to.

Hope’s new mate should feel right at home at the Cathedral of Learning.  He hatched on a 31-story Neoclassical building, completed in 1913, shown below.

4th and Vine Tower (PNC) Cincinnati, Ohio

There’s even a webcam at his former home.  Watch it here at RaptorInc.org.

N29 was not named at banding so he earns a name now that he has a nest. As the third tiercel to reign at the Cathedral of Learning, his name is “Terzo”  which means third in Italian.  (In Italian it’s pronounced Tare-tzo; rhymes with “scherzo.”)  Click here to read how he got his name.

Welcome to Pittsburgh, Terzo.  We’re happy to have you here.

 

(top photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the Univ of Pittsburgh.  photo of PNC 4th & Vine Tower linked from Wikipedia. Click on the image to see the original)

 

 

42 responses so far

Mar 26 2016

Still A Mystery

Published by under Peregrines

New male peregrine at Pitt, ID photos, 25 Mar 2016 (photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

New male peregrine at Pitt, 25 Mar 2016 (photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Yesterday morning the new male peregrine at the Cathedral of Learning stepped on the nest and paused in front of the falconcam.

Ta dah!  He is banded and we captured two clear snapshots of his bands:  Black/Red, N/29.

(The black/white image was taken in the infrared light before dawn.)

Peregrine fans searched online for his identity and came up empty.  This isn’t surprising. Eastern states don’t keep an online database.

I sent the ID photos to Art McMorris, PA Game Commission Peregrine Coordinator, and he looked in his databases — which include states that don’t report online — and came up empty as well.

The bands are within the color/number series issued to a midwestern state but they are not in that state’s database. They were probably used somewhere else.  But where?

Art contacted peregrine coordinators in other states and is awaiting information.  He says it may take days to get the answer.  (Remember, it’s Easter season and the person who knows the answer may be on vacation.)

So we’ll just have to be patient.

In the meantime the new male’s bands provide us with an easy way to tell the two birds apart on camera:  Hope is Black/Green, he is Black/Red.  🙂

 

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

p.s.  Here’s a nice article in The Trib about Hope and her new mate: Cathedral peregrine finds new beau

26 responses so far

Mar 25 2016

Exciting Peregrine Courtship At Pitt

Hope perches at the front of the nest, pre-dawn, Fri 25 March 2016 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ.of Pittsburgh)

Hope perches at the nest, pre-dawn, Fri 25 March 2016 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ.of Pittsburgh)

What an exciting day we had yesterday, the first full day of a new male peregrine at Pitt!

Many of you watched the falconcam but all the action was in the air.  Of course!  Peregrines are famous for top speed flight so naturally they show off their talents in courtship.

Six (and more) of us watched from vantage points in Oakland throughout the day and kept each other up to date on the latest activity.  The male’s flight displays were breath taking.

A male peregrine’s first priority is to claim and secure the territory. The new guy made all the right moves: kiting above the Cathedral of Learning, racing across and around the “cliff” face, ostentatiously stooping on prey, and attacking other predators.  The local red-tailed hawks took the brunt of his ire. They may have to reconsider their nest location in a tree next to the Cathedral!

Hope and her new mate were conspicuous when they perched.  They even mated on the lightning rod, something I hadn’t seen since the days when Dorothy was a younger bird and E2 was new to the site.  It’s the ultimate signal that “This cliff is ours!”

The male rarely perched but when he landed above the nest, Hope bowed and ee-chupped.  Here’s where he is when she does that:

New male perched above the nest at the Cathedral of Learning, 25 March 2016 (photo by John English)

New male perched above the nest at the Cathedral of Learning, 25 March 2016 (photo by John English)

And … when you hear Hope shouting before dawn (above) she’s making a sound like the begging call.  Peregrine males must provide food for their mates during egg-laying, incubation and brooding. The first food delivery is usually at dawn.  By calling like this Hope is reminding him of his obligations.  She is one loud bird!

Read more here about the details of peregrine courtship in this article:  All The Right Moves.

 

Your Questions:  I love to answer your questions but I cannot respond to redundant ones.  Questions about Hope’s eggs are answered at this blog post and in the comments which follow it.  Please click the link and read the entries before posting a redundant question.

Hope’s loose feather:  The feather is not a problem. It will fall out eventually.  In the meantime we’ve found it useful for telling the difference between Hope and the male in flight.  (Hays bald eagle observers can tell you they use a similar feather trait to identify the eagles at Hays.)

 

(top photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh. photo of male by John English)

UPDATE: The male came to the nest this morning, March 25, and we captured photos of his bands: Black/Red N/29.  Art McMorris, PA Game Commission Peregrine Coordinator, is researching the bird’s origin.  He says it will take some time (maybe days) because the band is not in the databases. Art is making phone calls.  Please be patient!  (Remember, this is Easter weekend so the person who knows the answer may be on vacation.)

39 responses so far

Mar 24 2016

High Hopes!

Last night after sunset, viewers of the Cathedral of Learning falconcam heard a peregrine calling off camera and Hope began to “ee-chup” and bow at the nest.  This is courtship behavior! Hope has found a potential mate.

In the video excerpt above you’ll hear a peregrine wailing off camera as Hope bows and calls, asking him to join her at the nest.

The episode began at 7:53pm and lasted at least 6 minutes.

We don’t know if her potential mate spent the night on the Cathedral of Learning. If he isn’t yet comfortable with the building he may have roosted elsewhere. (Remember, the place is all new to him. He will be cautious at first.)

This morning Hope called very loudly from 6:47 to 6:51am, “Hey! Where are you?”  Then she left the nest.

Don’t worry if Hope is not at the nest much in the coming days.  Peregrine courtship requires many spectacular aerial displays.  That’s how the two birds get to know each other.

Watch and listen to the falconcam for more peregrine “conversations.”  We’ll know their courtship has reached a deeper level when we see both peregrines bowing at the nest.

We have high hopes that she’s found a mate.  🙂

 

p.s. Click here and scroll down to the Courtship section to learn more about peregrine courtship displays.

(video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh captured from WildEarth.tv archives)

p.s. Since I posted this article Hope and the new male have been seen mating three times! Woo hoo!

IF YOU ARE AT PITT, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GET CLOSE TO THESE BIRDS. Peregrines view humans as their enemies & will leave the area if they think we are too close. Hope & her mate are so new to Pitt that they may be frightened away by seeing you staring at a window.

54 responses so far

Mar 22 2016

Where Are The Gulf Tower Peregrines?

Published by under Peregrines

Unused peregrine nest at the Gulf Tower, Downtown Pittsburgh, March 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Unused peregrine nest at the Gulf Tower, Downtown Pittsburgh, March 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Another installment in “All Peregrines All The Time”     😉

Early this month we had high hopes that Pittsburgh’s Downtown peregrines would nest at the Gulf Tower this spring because they were seen on camera so frequently.

Dori and Louie visited the nest every day and dug two deep scrapes at the back of the box.  We thought this showed their commitment to the site.

Alas, it did not.  No peregrines have been seen at the nest since Dori left on Friday morning March 11.

Dori will have to lay eggs soon, but where will that be?  She hasn’t been seen at the other nest sites she chose in the past. (Nope, she’s not at last year’s nest.)

Where did the Downtown peregrines go?

Have you seen them?  Please leave a comment if you have!

 

(photo of the Gulf Tower peregrine nest from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

p.s. For those of you unfamiliar with the Downtown peregrines’ fickle nest selections, click here to read their history.

 

14 responses so far

Mar 21 2016

Questions About Eggs And Food

Hope at the nest, 20 March 2016 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope at the nest, 20 March 2016 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

(You may have seen a bit of this on Facebook. Here’s more information.)

Since E2’s death many of you worry that Hope’s eggs at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest will not survive.

Some of you have even asked that we intervene to rescue and incubate the eggs ourselves, or that we leave food for Hope so she doesn’t have to leave the eggs.

Here’s why intervention is unnecessary, why “feeding” her will not work, and why either one of those attempts will wreck your viewing of Hope’s activities.

Why intervention is unnecessary:

Peregrine falcons delay incubation of their eggs until the female has laid the next-to-last or last egg. If the eggs are not incubated, but are protected from freezing and overheating (in other words, covered by the adult when temperatures are low or high), the eggs can wait several weeks for delayed incubation to begin and can hatch successfully.  I do not know the longest amount of time they can delay, but it is long.

We’ve seen this happen in Pittsburgh.  In 2010 Tasha laid two eggs at the Gulf Tower in mid March but Dori displaced her and became Louie’s new mate.  Tasha’s eggs waited three weeks while Dori bonded with Louie and laid her own clutch of three.  In the end, all five eggs hatched in May.

If Hope is delaying incubation, these eggs can wait a very long time.

And if she is not delaying:  Within the breeding season, peregrines lay a replacement clutch when they find a new mate or if the first clutch fails early in the season.

The bottom line is, you don’t need to worry about eggs.

 

Why leaving food for Hope will not work:

At the end of the last century when peregrines were endangered throughout the U.S. and Canada, they were so rare that wildlife officials tried to offer supplemental food to widowed females. It doesn’t work. Peregrines are not scavengers (bald eagles are) and we humans are the peregrines’ #1 enemy. It doesn’t matter where you leave the food.  Wild peregrines refuse food left by humans.

 

Why intervention of any kind will wreck your viewing of Hope’s activities:

Hope is at a first class “cliff,” a very valuable territory, so a new mate will find her.  If we intervened in any way, Hope and her new mate would decide the area is unsafe (from humans!) and would leave the Cathedral of Learning forever.  Then there would be no peregrines on camera at all.  Intervention would wreck everything.

 

Wild peregrines’ lives are often very different than we assume. It is a privilege to watch and learn from them.

 

(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)

p.s. It is against Federal law to take birds’ eggs.  In Pennsylvania, peregrine falcons are managed and protected by the PA Game Commission. They make the decisions on peregrines and their welfare based on peregrine falcon biology.


 

For more information about peregrine falcon biology and family life see my Peregrine FAQs.

Stay up to date on peregrine news by checking this link.

50 responses so far

Mar 19 2016

Based On Behavior

Hope sitting on eggs, 19 March 2016, 7:43am, temperature 34 degrees F (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope sitting on eggs, 19 March 2016, 7:43am, temperature 34 degrees F (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

We humans have been speculating about the peregrine falcons at the Cathedral of Learning — about E2’s death and Hope’s future — but the only way to figure out what’s really going on is to watch the birds’ behavior and write down the facts without speculation.

Using the facts, we can match what we see to typical species behavior and arrive at a general answer.  Long-time observers may also match facts to years of observing the individual birds, providing a specific answer based on the individual’s “personality.”  However, additional data may contradict our conclusions.  We must remain open to changing our minds. That’s how we learn.

Today I’ll tell you what I’ve seen at the Cathedral of Learning and will do some matching based on 15 years of watching the peregrines at Pitt and 8.5 years of knowing E2 as an individual.  Keep in mind that conclusions are always speculation, even though educated by long experience.

FACTS:

  • E2’s death and activities surrounding it:
    • E2’s last appearance on camera was at 12:37pm on Tuesday March 15.
    • Hope laid her second egg at 5:08pm on Tuesday March 15.
    • E2 always visited each egg as it was laid.  He did not visit Hope’s second egg.
    • E2 always brought food to his mates at dawn.  He has not been present at dawn since Tuesday March 15.
    • E2’s body was found on Wednesday March 16, perhaps at 4:00pm–5:00pm.  It was retrieved around 6:00pm.
    • E2’s body has a broken right wing and broken right leg and blood in mouth.  Blood in mouth indicates internal injuries.
    • When E2’s body was retrieved his wings could be opened, therefore no rigor mortis. Rigor mortis is temporary.  I am awaiting further data but the Backyard Chickens website says it sets in half an hour to 4 hours after death and ends 24-48 hours after death.  (Thank you, Donna Memon, for this link.)
  • Hope’s activities since E2 disappeared:
    • She has stayed close to the nest and laid a third egg.
    • This morning’s temperature dropped to 34 degrees F.  Under these circumstances peregrines cover their eggs to keep them from getting too cold.
    • Hope covered the eggs last night.
    • Yesterday afternoon when Hope was not on camera she was not at the Cathedral of Learning.  (I did not see her fly.)
  • Is Hope alone? Is there a new male present?
    • A second peregrine has not been seen on camera since E2’s last appearance.  An intruder male would begin courting immediately. There has been no courting at all.
    • Yesterday afternoon I observed off and on for 90 minutes from the ground at the Cathedral of Learning.  I never saw two birds — only Hope.
    • Hope and E2 were loud when they were near each other, lots of ee-chupping and calling.  I have not reviewed all of the audio archives but from what I have heard… there has been no peregrine noise since E2 disappeared.  (This may need to be corrected if additional data contradicts it.)

CONCLUSIONS (SPECULATION!) ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED:

  • Time of E2’s death: My conclusion, based on knowing him as an individual, is that he died on Tuesday afternoon before 5:00pm.
  • Cause of E2’s death: Based on description of his injuries, my conclusion is that he was hit broadside by something much larger than him.  These massive injuries cannot be inflicted by another bird.
  • Underlying cause of E2’s death: This is speculation on top of speculation!   My guess is that he was hit by a vehicle while swooping low over the road.  (I once saw him swoop low over Forbes Avenue. This 1 observation in 8.5 years merely means he was willing to swoop low over a road at one point.)
  • Did an intruder force E2 into a fight?  No. If an intruder had been involved, that intruder would be at the Cathedral of Learning and courting with Hope by now.
  • Is Hope incubating?  I don’t know Hope’s ways like I knew Dorothy’s so I don’t know.  I would have answered that question based on her continuous time on the eggs but Hope cannot incubate continuously because she must hunt for herself.
  • Is Hope hunting for her own food?  I don’t know.  I have not observed long enough on the ground.
  • Is there a new male at the site yet?   Not that we know of.

As I said above, conclusions are always speculation.

Keep watching and learning.

 

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

38 responses so far

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