Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

Mar 18 2016

Now That E2 is Gone: Many Questions, A Few Answers

Published by under Peregrines

Hope leaving the nest and 3 eggs at dawn, 18 March 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Three eggs now. Hope leaving the nest at dawn, 18 March 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Since learning the tragic news of E2’s death while his mate Hope is laying eggs, we have all wondered what will happen at the Cathedral of Learning nest.  The situation is more poignant this morning; Hope laid a third egg last night.

Many of you have asked questions about E2’s death, Hope’s present circumstances, and Hope’s future.  Here are your questions and a few answers.  As you will see sometimes the answer is, “We don’t know.”

  • What happened to E2?
    • First, if you missed the news of E2’s death, click here.  As I mentioned yesterday, his injuries indicate he was hit broadside on his right.  No one knows what actually happened.  I don’t know either.  My guess — it is only a guess — is that he swooped low over the street and was hit by a car.
  • I know death is a fact of life, but is it a norm that an entire peregrine family is wiped out in 8 months?
    • The death of Dorothy, E2 and last year’s chick is an unusual combination of age and accident.  Dorothy was elderly and likely to die within the year. Peregrine fledgling mortality is 60% (that is normal).  The last nestling died because he was handicapped at birth due to Dorothy’s advanced age at conception. E2’s death is a surprise at this moment but at age 11 he was heading for late middle age.  The family is bigger than those three birds.  Dorothy fledged 43 young, 21 of them were E2’s.  The family lives on in their many descendants.
  • Will Hope lay more eggs?
    • She will until her system is clear of them.  Egg laying is stimulated by courtship and the presence of her mate.  We do not know how many eggs she had in the pipeline up until E2’s disappearance.
  • When will Hope begin to hunt on her own?
    • E2 cached food on the “cliff” for the two of them to eat when hunting was precluded by bad weather. Hope will first eat the cached food. Then she will hunt.
  • Does this mean these eggs won’t be incubated?
    • They probably won’t but it depends on what happens next.  The answer is yes if Hope finds a mate very soon, re-clutches, and incubates all of the eggs.  Otherwise, the answer is likely to be No.  Peregrines “know” (ingrained species knowledge) that their young cannot be incubated and brooded successfully by a single parent.
  • Is it really possible for a ‘single mom’ falcon to raise her chicks alone?
    • Not at this stage in the nesting cycle.  During incubation, one of the adults must always keep the eggs warm.  Because a single parent must hunt for her own food and hunting takes a long time, the eggs will get cold.  If the eggs are not incubated but merely kept from freezing and overheating, incubation can start weeks later and the eggs will hatch.
  • Is/was there an intruder?
    • When a rival for a nest wins the site, the winner and the remaining adult begin courting immediately. No one has reported a second peregrine at the Cathedral of Learning and no one has seen two peregrines courting at the nest. Now that I am back in Pittsburgh (I was traveling this week), I plan to spend time watching the Cathedral of Learning for a second peregrine. I will let you know what I find out.
  • When Hope advertises for a mate, how does that action differ from other peregrine activities?
    • Advertising for a mate includes prominent perching and aerial displays described in the Courtship list at Peregrine FAQs.  Making the moves alone means “I’m available.” However, I’m sure there are additional actions and subtle nuances I don’t know about.
  • What are the odds of an unattached male peregrine being in the vicinity of the Cathedral of Learning in the near future?
    • The odds are good.  There are many males who want a territory and few territories available.

 

(Hope at the Cathedral of Learning nest with 3 eggs, pre-dawn March 18,2016.  The image is black-and-white and the eggs are white because of infrared night light. photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

33 responses so far

Mar 17 2016

E2 Found Dead in Friendship

Published by under Peregrines

E2 at the Cathedral of Learning, June 2010 (photo by Peter Bell)

E2 at the Cathedral of Learning, June 2010 (photo by Peter Bell)

Sad news of the Cathedral of Learning peregrines at the University of Pittsburgh:

Yesterday afternoon, March 16, a woman in the Friendship neighborhood of Pittsburgh found a dead peregrine falcon face down in her backyard.  Because he was banded we learned he was E2.

E2 hatched at the Gulf Tower in 2005, the son of Louie and Tasha. He arrived at Pitt in November 2007 after his predecessor Erie had disappeared.  He was 11 years old.

Last seen on the Cathedral of Learning falconcam at 12:37pm on Tuesday, March 15, E2 died less than a mile and a half from home.  He had a broken right wing and leg and blood in his mouth.  We don’t know what happened but it appears he was hit broadside. (*)

When E2 last visited the nest there was only one egg (photo below shows his bands).  Hope laid her second egg 4.5 hours later.  Though she sometimes sits on the eggs, she may have not begun true incubation.

Last picture of E2 leaving the nest, 15 March 2016, 12:37pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Last picture of E2 leaving the nest, 15 March 2016, 12:37pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

At this point in the nesting cycle — egg laying — E2 brought food to her every day, mated with her, and cached food on the cliff.  His custom was to visit each egg after it was laid.  He did not visit the second egg.

By now Hope has figured out that he won’t be coming home.

Hope will begin to hunt for herself again.  For a while, she’ll protect the eggs but not incubate them.  Eventually she’ll advertise for a mate by circling above the Cathedral of Learning.  If a new mate arrives in the next few weeks, the pair will bond and she will lay a new clutch two weeks later.(**)

There is no time to be sad. Peregrines don’t grieve, especially in March when their hormones are driving them to reproduce.  Between now and September they must defend a territory, mate, lay eggs, and raise young to self sufficiency. There is still time for Hope to raise a family if she finds a mate soon.

Goodbye, E2. I’m sad and unhappy about your untimely death but I know there’s no time to grieve.

My greatest wish right now is that Hope will find a new mate really soon.

We will watch and wait.

 

(photo of E2 at top by Peter Bell. Last photo of E2 from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

(*) When a peregrine swoops low over the street he can be hit by a vehicle.  There are many reasons for swooping low including pursuit of prey and chasing an intruder.

(**) There is precedent in Pittsburgh for re-clutching with a new mate. Read about the Gulf Tower in 2010.

Many thanks to Art McMorris and Bob Mulvihill for keeping me informed while I’m traveling. And special thanks to Caitlin for reporting E2’s bands.

43 responses so far

Mar 16 2016

Who is Who at the Cathedral of Learning Nest?

Published by under Peregrines

E2 and Hope: side-by-side comparison (photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

E2 and Hope: side-by-side comparison (photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

This comparison of nesting adults — E2 and Hope — no longer applies.  On the afternoon of 16 March 2016, E2 was found dead in Friendship.  By 23 March, Hope had found a new mate named Terzo.


Click here for a comparison of the new pair, Terzo and Hope, as of 6 April 2016.

Meanwhile …

… can you tell who this is?

Who is this? (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Who is this? (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

 

Good luck!

 

(photos from National Aviary snapshot cam at University of Pittsburgh)

24 responses so far

Mar 13 2016

First Egg at Pitt for 2016

Peregrine, nicknamed Hope, with her first egg of 2016 (snasphot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Peregrine, nicknamed Hope, with her first egg of 2016 (snasphot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Hope laid her first egg of the season at 9:32am today, 13 March 2016.

Congratulations, Hope and E2!

Watch the falconcam by clicking here or on the photo.

 

(screenshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning)

p.s. Here’s why she isn’t sitting on the eggs yet: http://www.birdsoutsidemywindow.org/peregrine-faqs/question-sitting-on-eggs-or-not/

27 responses so far

Mar 13 2016

Falcons and Eagles: A Nestcam Round-up

Louie explores the nest area while Dori perches above at the Gulf Tower (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Louie explores the nest area on 10 March 2016 while Dori perches above (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower)

Raptor nesting season is already upon us.  Bald eagles have eggs.  Peregrine falcons will lay them soon.  Here are some opportunities to watch their nests from the comfort of your home.

  • Peregrine Falcon Cams:
    • Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh: My all-time favorite webcam shows Hope and E2 as they prepare to nest together for the first time.  Watch for eggs this month.
    • Gulf Tower, Downtown Pittsburgh: Dori and Louie, shown above, are spending time at the Gulf Tower this spring after nesting at non-camera sites for a few years.  Will they nest at Gulf this year? The real litmus test will be when Dori lays eggs, mid-March to early April. (*)
    • Times Square Building, Rochester New York: The female at Rochester’s Times Square has a Pittsburgh connection.  Beauty was born at the Cathedral of Learning in 2007. She’s Dorothy and Erie’s daughter.
    • Wilmington, Delaware: Red Girl at Wilmington is one of the first peregrines to lay eggs in the Mid-Atlantic. She already has four, laid March 5 through 10.
    • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Falconcam: Another early nester, the female in Harrisburg began laying eggs on March 7.
  • Bald Eagle Cams:
    • Pittsburgh’s Hays and Harmar bald eagles:  Two nests on one convenient web page at eagles.aswp.org.  The Hays female laid her eggs on February 13, 16 and 20 so her first hatch will be (approx) March 19.  Harmar’s first egg was March 9 so watch for hatching on (approx) April 13.
    • Decorah, Iowa:  Decorah is one of the longest running eagles cams in the U.S.
    • Check the Eagleholic Eagle Cam list for a list of webcams complete with egg dates.  Pittsburgh’s two nests are listed as “Pittsburgh Hays” and “Harmar”.
  • Watch great horned owls, barred owls, red-tailed hawks and others at Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Cam page.

This list is just a sampling.  If you have a favorite nestcam post it in Comments below.

 

(*) Keep in mind that the cameras show only a small piece of these birds’ lives.  You must visit their territories and observe them in person to see what’s really going on.  Case in point: Click here for two comments (read the question and answer) about yesterday’s lack of activity at the Gulf Tower.

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

10 responses so far

Mar 09 2016

All The Right Moves

SW and Boomer in courtship flight, Cleveland, Ohio (photo by Chad + Chris Saladin)

SW and Boomer fly upside down in courtship flight, Cleveland, Ohio (photo by Chad + Chris Saladin)

Peregrine falcon courtship is underway in Pittsburgh but you’re missing a lot if you only see it on camera.

Peregrines have many courtship rituals that get them in tune for the breeding season.   Here’s what you’ll see at any one of Pittsburgh’s seven peregrine territories.  Click on the links below for additional descriptions and photos.

  1. Prominent perching:  Peregrines perch in prominent locations to show they own the place.  Established pairs perch near each other.
  2. Cooperative hunting: The pair goes out hunting together.  He kicks up a flock while she stoops on likely prey.
  3. Ledge Displays:  Peregrines display on the nest ledge over the scrape, at first alone then as a pair.  These are the only displays you’ll see on the falconcams.
  4. Courtship Flights:  Peregrines court in the air with speed and precision.  They even fly upside down (shown above).
  5. Food Transfers:  The male provides food for his mate.
  6. Copulation: Here’s how it’s done.

 

In our area the females lay eggs between mid March and early April, one egg every other day. Watch for the first egg at the Cathedral of Learning and Gulf Tower on the falconcams.

How will you know an egg is due soon?  The female will start to spend the night at the scrape a few days before her first egg.

In the meantime, our peregrines are making all the right moves.  Eggs coming soon.

 

(photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)

19 responses so far

Mar 02 2016

Setting Up Housekeeping at the Gulf Tower

Dori arrives to join Louie in courtship at the Gulf Tower nest (photo from National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori arrives to join Louie in courtship at the Gulf Tower nest (photo from National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower). Click on the photo for a bigger view.

Pittsburgh Peregrine Fans are pleased as punch that Dori and Louie have taken a new and intensive interest in the Gulf Tower nest.

For the past four years they’ve flipped from site to site instead of choosing the Gulf Tower that peregrines had used continuously since 1991.  In 2012 and 2013 they left Gulf for a nook at 322 Fourth Avenue. In 2014 they returned, but last year (2015) they left for Macy’s Annex.

In December the PA Game Commission’s peregrine coordinator, Art McMorris, refurbished the Gulf Tower nest in hopes it would entice the peregrines back to stay.  Since February 24 the signs have been very good:

  • Louie and Dori both visit the nest area:  The photo above shows them about to court on February 27.  Click on the image for a bigger view.
  • Louie calls for Dori to arrive:  Amazingly, he even calls to her at night. Click here to watch him calling her at 2:00am on February 29.
  • The pair courts at the scrape by bowing and “chirping” to each other.  Click here to see their courtship at WildEarth.tv archives.
  • Dori frequently perches near the nest or at the scrape. (The scrape is the actual nest site, a shallow depression where she’ll lay her eggs.)
  • Dori has dug two scrapes and continues to enlarge them.  See photos below.
Dori digs the scrape on the left (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori digs the scrape on the left (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori walks over to the other side ... (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori walks over to the other side … (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori digs the scrape on the right (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori digs the scrape on the right (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Dori is setting up housekeeping at the Gulf Tower so we’re hoping she’ll lay her eggs here this year.  The real confirmation will be her first egg, due to arrive in mid to late March.

You can watch what she’s up to on the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower.

 

(snapshots from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

7 responses so far

Feb 25 2016

Peregrine On The Beach

Peregrine Falcon eating Laughing Gull, Daytona Beach Shores (photo by Michael Brothers)

Peregrine Falcon eating Laughing Gull, Daytona Beach Shores, 2012 (photo by Michael Brothers)

Throw Back Thursday:

Humans aren’t the only ones who visit Florida’s beaches in winter. Large flocks of gulls and shorebirds loaf on the sand and sometimes a peregrine falcon finds this irresistible.

In 2012 an unbanded adult peregrine ate a gull within 20 feet of passersby at Daytona Beach Shores. Click here to read the story and see the slideshow On The Beach.

 

(photo by Michael Brothers, 2012)

5 responses so far

Feb 17 2016

Peregrines Claim The Bridge … Maybe

Ravens & Peregrine Falcons 1

Peregrine falcons and common ravens have a long history of nesting near each other. Both favor cliff ledges with similar qualities and will nest 100-200 meters apart (1-2 football fields).  They’ll even take over each others’ unused nest sites, but they don’t get along.

Peregrines harass ravens though they rarely hurt them.  Ravens are big and powerful and very acrobatic in flight.

Since 2007 a peregrine pair has nested over the Ohio River on one of two bridges: the Monaca-East Rochester Bridge (Rt. 51), or the enormous Monaca-Beaver railroad bridge.  In 2015 they nested on the east tower of the railroad bridge (Monaca side) and fledged two young.

Ravens are rare in Pennsylvania’s urban areas but they do nest on railroad bridges, laying their eggs in late February a month before the peregrines nest.

Last Friday, February 12, Gina Rubino was watching a raven build a nest on the west arch (Beaver side) of the Monaca-Beaver railroad bridge when two peregrines showed up.  She recorded three videos.  Above, a raven builds the nest on the near arch, then perches on top of the arch and takes shelter when a peregrine zooms past.

Below, two peregrines harass the raven who again takes shelter in the bridge structure. This double-teaming is typical of peregrine-raven interactions.

Ravens & Peregrine Falcons 2

 

Eventually, the raven pair gets the message and flies off together while a peregrine perches on the far (east) end of the bridge.

Ravens & Peregrine Falcons 3

Do the peregrines want the railroad bridge for their own nest this year? Or are they just annoyed by the ravens, as peregrines often are?

Gina wrote on PABIRDS, “I’m hoping the two groups can settle their differences (I would love to see both successfully nest), but I have my doubts…”

Me, too.

 

(videos by Gina M. Rubino)

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Feb 16 2016

Home For A Visit?

Published by under Peregrines

Peregrine falcon at Tarentum Bridge, 8 Feb 2016, 3:30pm (photo by Scott Kinzey)

Peregrine falcon at Tarentum Bridge, 8 Feb 2016, 3:30pm (photo by Scott Kinzey)

On Monday February 8 at 3:30pm, Scott Kinzey stopped by the boat launch at the Tarentum Bridge. As soon as he pulled into the parking lot a peregrine falcon flew over his car and landed on a low beam.

The bird was banded and Scott could see that the top of the band was black, the first digit was ‘6’ and the second digit was rounded — but that’s all.  Fortunately, he had his camera with him.

Does this bird look familiar?

Peregrine falcon at Tarentum Bridge, 8 Feb 2016, 3:30pm (photo by Scott Kinzey)

Peregrine falcon at Tarentum Bridge, 8 Feb 2016, 3:30pm (photo by Scott Kinzey)

Scott watched as the peregrine “flew into the [structural] holes on the bottom beam of the bridge as if looking for something.  Several times, maybe four different holes.  It flew off towards the middle of the bridge before 5:00pm.”

This description resembles Hope (black/green, 69/Z) who made the Tarentum Bridge her home for six years before she moved to the Cathedral of Learning last November.  Did she come back for a visit?  Was she back to stay?

I checked the falconcam archives for her presence at the Pitt nest. Since the last big snowstorm (January 12, 4″-6″) she’d been on camera every day, usually several times a day, but on February 8 her last nest visit was at 12:15pm and she didn’t reappear until February 10 at 12:25pm, 48 hours later.  Since then she’s been on camera every day.

I can’t prove a negative. I can’t prove that Hope was not near the Cathedral of Learning on the evening of February 8 because she may have been there, though not on camera.

On the other hand, Tarentum is only 15 miles from the Cathedral of Learning.  A peregrine could fly there at a leisurely pace in only half an hour.

Rob Protz, who monitors the peregrines at Tarentum, examined Scott’s photos and says this bird’s facial features look like Hope.

Peregrine falcon at Tarentum Bridge, 8 Feb 2016, 3:30pm (photo by Scott Kinzey)

Peregrine falcon at Tarentum Bridge, 8 Feb 2016, 3:30pm (photo by Scott Kinzey)

Maybe Hope goes home to visit and then returns to Pitt.  Maybe she spends her days at Pitt and her nights at Tarentum.  We don’t know.

What we do know is that she visits the Cathedral of Learning nest nearly every day, sometimes several times a day, and she courts with E2.

For now Hope can hang out in two places if she wants to, but she’ll have to pick one nest when she lays her eggs next month.

In the meantime, stop by the Cathedral of Learning and the Tarentum Bridge at 5:00pm to count peregrines.  Are there four different peregrines at these two sites — or only three?

 

(photos by Scott Kinzey)

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