To find this 1.5-3-foot tall wildflower, walk the Jennings Trail between the two Beaver Trail intersections (along the cliff) or visit the spot where Jennings meets Meadow Trail and the creek. Click here for a map.
Read more about its confusing name in the Throw Back Thursday article below. Visit the Wildflower Reserve soon to see it.
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)
American robin, white-throated sparrow (photos by Marcy Cunkelman)
We humans are starting to respond to climate change. The birds already have.
In a study on two continents — North America and Europe — data from 1980 to 2010 shows that populations of our common birds have been affected by climate change and the gap is growing. Bird species expected to do well due to climate change have substantially outperformed those expected to do badly over the 30 year period. It’s the first real demonstration that climate is having a similar, large-scale influence on the abundance of common birds in widely separated parts of the world.(*)
Here are two examples from North America:
American robins are an adaptable species whose range has expanded as the climate warms. Robins don’t have to go as far south in the winter and now they breed in Alaska!
White-throated sparrows are a common winter species in the Lower 48 but when it comes time to breed they’ll be in trouble. As they move north the forest they require for breeding gives way to treeless landscapes. It takes decades to grow a forest and climate is changing faster than the plants can catch up. White-throated sparrows are losing ground. Click here to see their changing map.
More robins, fewer white-throated sparrows. The populations of common birds are affected by climate change.
There’s a hospital in the Guatemalan jungle that’s saving lives every day. It’s operating at capacity with over 700 boarders yet it tries not to turn anyone away. The hospital is ARCAS. Their patients are injured and orphaned jungle animals, often harmed by the illegal pet trade.
In PBS NATURE’s season finale, Jungle Animal Hospital shows the daily challenges faced by ARCAS staff as they heal the animals and prepare them for release in the wild. Every release is a celebration.
Some animals are so rare that each life represents a significant portion of the population. Such is the case with the scarlet macaws.
Scarlet macaw (photo by Alejandro Morales courtesy PBS NATURE)
There are only 300 of these scarlet macaws left in the wild so ARCAS has developed a captive breeding program, similar in concept to North America’s peregrine recovery program two decades ago. The difference is that scarlet macaws are social animals so they must be reared and released in a flock with their friends.
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.
Though birds migrate during many months of the year their biggest push in North America is in early May. That’s why we celebrate their arrival and promote their conservation on this second Saturday.
In May migrating birds pass overhead at night and stop to eat in unlikely places where they don’t intend to stay. Yesterday I saw a spotted sandpiper (pictured above) at Schenley Park’s Panther Hollow Lake. Shorebirds and wading birds are rare visitors to the lake because the concrete edge provides no food. The sandpiper paused for a snack at the cat-tails and creek outflow … and then he was on his way to breed at a stream bank, lake or river.
Lake Erie’s southern shore is a great place to find migratory birds this month. Last week I went birding from Erie, Pennsylvania to Maumee Bay, Ohio. Here are two of my favorite species seen at Magee Marsh, Ohio — one very large species and one small.
American white pelicans flying over Chase Lake NWR, North Dakota (photo from US Fish & Wildlife via Wikimedia Commons)
Canada Warbler (photo by Cris Hamilton)
American white pelicans and Canada warblers don’t breed at Magee Marsh but they’re there this month.