C1 on Heinz Chapel steeple, 14 July 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
August has been boring for watching Pittsburgh’s peregrines outdoors. It’s hot, the adults are molting and lethargic, and the youngsters have left town. Even when female ownership changes at Pitt we never see it happen.
A month ago outdoor watching was more interesting. On July 14 Lori Maggio photographed C1 perched on the Heinz Chapel steeple.
C1 on a gargoyle at Heinz Chapel steeple, 14 July 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
C1 at Heinz Chapel steeple, 14 July 2016 (photo by Lori Maggio)
Shortly thereafter C1 left town to begin life on her own.
Well, maybe. There are a lot of native ground cherries in the Americas — 46 species in Mexico alone. The extent of maroon inside the flower may give a hint. Physalis longifolia var. subglabrata is as close as I can get.
Inside the dangling Ground cherry flower (photo by Kate St. John)
What I do know is that when the paper lantern dries the fruit is edible, though everything else about the plant is poisonous including the paper husk.
Caterpillar of the Promethea moth, twig held by Ramona Sahni (photo by Kate St. John)
On August 6 at Jennings Prairie we found a big green “cat” with a yellow face. Ramona Sahni held the twig while I took the caterpillar’s picture.
Dianne Machesney later identified it as the larva of a Promethea moth (Callosamia promethea). He’s named for Prometheus, a Titan in Greek mythology who was a clever trickster and benefactor of mankind.
Nowadays “Promethean” means “boldly creative, defiantly original” — and because he was a Titan, “big.” The adult male and female moths show off these qualities.
Male Promethea moth (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Female Promethea moth (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
It’s amazing that they look so different.
Big, bold, defiantly original. No wonder these moths are Promethean. 😉
(caterpillar photo by Kate St. John. Moth photos from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the images to see the originals)
Magnum at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 12 August 2016, 5:15pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Get ready to update your scorecard. There have been two! changes in female peregrine ownership at the Cathedral of Learning so far this weekend.
Friday evening “NR” saw a black/red banded female at the nest and posted a comment that Magnum was back on August 12 at 5:15pm — that’s 17:15 time code on the camera. The photo above clearly shows Magnum’s bands.
Then Saturday night, August 13 at 6:52pm, members of Pittsburgh Falconuts saw Hope on camera calling loudly. Terzo was nearby but he waited almost four minutes to join her. Though her black/green bands are hard to read here, we know it’s Hope based on multiple snapshots. She visited the nest again alone in the 8 o’clock hour.
Hope returns to the nest, 13 August 2016 at 6:52 pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)
So here’s the state of play at the Cathedral of Learning pre-dawn on August 14. I’m writing this before they wake up and change things again!
30 Nov 2015: Hope arrives at the Cathedral of Learning
8 April 2016 (same day): Hope retains site after unbanded immature female visits the nest.
23 April 2016 (same day): Hope retains site after a banded adult female (black/red) visits the nest.
22 June 2016: Magnum (black/red 62/H) claims the Cathedral of Learning.
24 June 2016: Hope regains the site.
2 August 2016: Unbanded young female claims the Cathedral of Learning.
6 August 2016: Hope regains the site.
12 August 2016: Magnum (black/red 62/H) claims the Cathedral of Learning.
13 August 2016: Hope regains the site.
As of this writing I have no idea where Magnum is but she knows her way around. She’s been to the Cathedral of Learning before, possibly on April 23 and certainly on June 22. Her home base has been the Neville Island I-79 Bridge, to which she returned after her last visit.
I don’t know how long Hope will stay this time. Don’t even ask!
As I said on August 6, no humans ever see how these turnovers occur. As far as I can tell no peregrines get hurt.
Thank you to NR and to all of you who check the Cathedral of Learning falconcam for peregrine activity. Without your help we’d never know how interesting this summer has been.
It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. But its not the relative humidity.(*)
As a raw number, relative humidity doesn’t tell you anything. The video above shows how the same amount of water produces different relative humidities depending on air temperature.
For example, early yesterday morning in my backyard it was 80 degrees with relative humidity 79%. Last Tuesday it was 66 degrees with relative humidity 83%.
So didn’t yesterday’s 79% humidity feel better than 83% last Tuesday? No! Yesterday’s 80 degrees held a lot more water.
Dewpoint (the temperature at which the air is so saturated that it rains or produces dew) is the helpful number that tells us that. If you know the temperature and relative humidity you can calculate the dewpoint here.
The National Weather Service in Chicago made a chart to describe how we feel at various dewpoints. I’ve marked it in red to show my own heat-averse opinion. (Click on the screenshot to see their dewpoint video that includes this chart.)
How dewpoints feel (chart from NWS Chicago video, altered to show how it feels to me)
So here’s what was really going on this week and why it felt so hot yesterday even though the temperature never reached 90 degrees. Notice that the relative humidity was at its lowest yesterday afternoon.
Tuesday Aug 9, 7am
Rather humid, almost comfortable
Friday Aug 12, 7am
Friday Aug 12 afternoon, 2pm
Find out the dewpoint before you go outdoors and you’ll know whether you want to brave it!