Apr 01 2016

What About Egg #3?

Two nestlings watch as parent bald eagle returns to the Hays nest (photo from Hays eaglecam)

Two nestlings watch as parent bald eagle returns to the Hays nest (photo from Hays eaglecam)

 

By now it’s clear that the two nestlings in the Hays bald eagle nest are doing well but many of you wonder about the third unhatched egg.  What will happen to it?  Why hasn’t it hatched?

One unhatched egg is a fairly common occurrence in the nests of many birds.  Some eggs are not fertile, some have developmental issues. There are many reasons.  Birds often lay more eggs than actually hatch, perhaps as insurance against this rather common eventuality.

Among bald eagles, the need to brood the young for a week allows ample opportunity for remaining eggs to continue incubation and eventually hatch. While the adults brood the nestlings they can hear if an egg has a live bird in it because baby birds make peeping and hammering sounds inside the egg a day or more before hatching.  Eggs that aren’t going to hatch are silent.

What happens to unhatched eggs?  Birds are not emotional about them. When it’s obvious an egg won’t hatch, the family moves it around the nest for their convenience. In bald eagles’ nests it may eventually become buried under debris along with the remains of dinner.

What if it hatches now, more than a week late?  Here’s the answer from the Audubon Society of Western PA on their Bald Eagles of Western PA Facebook page on March 30, 9:39pm:

“We’ve gotten many questions about the last egg in the Hays nest. At this point there are no good options for what can happen with that egg. Perhaps the egg is just not viable and will not hatch. But if the egg should hatch (there is still a remote possibility) the newly-hatched eaglet would have a difficult time thriving. It would be more than a week younger than its siblings, meaning it would be much smaller and have a hard time competing for available food. While nobody likes to hear this, it is nature and if we didn’t have a webcam focused on the nest, we wouldn’t even know it was happening. All we can do now is wait and see how it plays out…and be thankful for the two vibrant eaglets that we do have in Hays.” — eagles.aswp.org

The text above gives you a hint.

Knowing bald eagle family life as I do, my hope is that the third egg never hatches.

 


UPDATE, 2 April 2016, 7:36am:  See below for a press release about Egg#3 from the Audubon Society of Western PA.

ASWP_logo

Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania Statement on the Remaining Egg in the Hays, PA Bald Eagle Nest

For immediate release, April 2, 2016.

There is one unhatched egg remaining in the Hays, PA Bald Eagle nest. The egg has gone one week past the typical 35 day incubation period and at this time, the adult eagles are no longer actively incubating the egg. Audubon believes that the egg is not viable and will not hatch.

While we will never know for certain why this egg did not hatch, it’s possible that it was not fertile from the start. An infertile egg cannot develop into an eaglet and the egg would thus be deemed non-viable. It’s also possible that something went wrong developmentally within the egg after it was laid.

Across the state in Hanover, it appears that their local Bald Eagles also have an egg that is not going to hatch. We do not believe that there is any connection between the non-hatchings in Hanover and Hays—it’s nothing more than a coincidence. Last year, both sides of Pennsylvania had abnormally cold winters, which we believe was one of the factors that led to an unsuccessful breeding season for our Pittsburgh Bald Eagles. But in 2015, the Hanover Bald Eagles raised and fledged young, while facing the same cold temperatures. Before webcams were pointed on these nests, we did not know what was happening inside of them. Today we can see nature at work—both the good and the hard, sometimes uncomfortable reality of it.

The positive news is that the Hays Bald Eagles have two healthy and vibrant eaglets in their nest—eaglets that are approaching two weeks old and growing every day. We look forward to watching their continued growth and development, and eventual fledging from the nest in early summer. The Hays Bald Eagles have successfully hatched six eaglets: one in 2013, three in 2015, and two in 2016. The unhatched egg will eventually be broken through activity in the nest—parents and eaglets moving around. The egg, like the shells of the hatched eaglets, will eventually become invisible within the nest. An image of the female Hays Bald Eagle and two eaglets is attached.

Watch Pittsburgh’s eagles at eagles.aswp.org. For additional information on the Hays and Harmar Bald Eagles, please visit our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pittsburgheagles, where daily updates on both nests are posted. The Harmar Bald Eagles’ first egg is expected to hatch on our around April 13.

 

(photo from Hays eaglecam)

p.s. Celebrate bald eagles this weekend at Audubon Society of Western PA’s Beechwood (Allegheny County) and Succop (Butler County) locations with a free “Eagle Egg” Hunt and other activities.

On Saturday, April 2 at Beechwood: Egg hunts at 11 am, 12 pm, and 1 pm – bring a bag to collect eggs! Parking is at Fairview Elementary School, 738 Dorseyville Road. Shuttles will bring visitors to Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve. Please allow time for the shuttle to transport you to the event. The Pennsylvania Game Commission and PixController will be onsite, as well as a local chicken expert who will bring baby chickens! There will also be games, crafts, and activities. Register today for Beechwood!

On Sunday, April 3 at Succop: Egg hunt begins at 12 pm – bring a bag to collect eggs! Then participate in eagle-themed games, crafts, and activities. Register today for Succop!

Or call (412) 963-6100 to sign up.

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Mar 31 2016

A Tale of Two Owls

Great horned owl on nest under the Homestead Grays Bridge, 27 March 2016 (photo by John English)

Great horned owl on nest under the Homestead Grays Bridge, 27 March 2016 (photo by John English)

For months we thought the old red-tailed hawks’ nest under the Homestead Grays Bridge was abandoned, but last Sunday John English discovered it is very much occupied — by a great horned owl.  John posted the photo above in the Duck Hollow Facebook group with this diagram of its location.

Location of nest under Homestead Grays Bridge (photo by John English)

Location of nest under Homestead Grays Bridge (formerly called the Homestead High Level Bridge) as seen from Red Robin at The Waterfront. Duck Hollow is on right, across the river (photo by John English)

Dana Nesiti (EaglesofHaysPA) stopped by yesterday and got this beautiful shot of the mother owl. In this species, only the females incubate and brood.  Father owl perches nearby during the day.

Great horned owl on nest under the Homestead Grays Bridge, 30 March 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Great horned owl on nest under the Homestead Grays Bridge, 30 March 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Dana watched for 45 minutes and was rewarded with a glimpse of the tiny owlet — the round white head at center-right of the nest.  I’m no expert but my guess is this owlet hatched 1-2 weeks ago.

Great horned owlet in nest under Homestead Grays Bridge, 30 March 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Great horned owlet in nest under Homestead Grays Bridge, 30 March 2016 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

 

Meanwhile, not far away….

At midday on Monday Cathy Bubash posted a comment on my blog that there was an injured owl on the road at Schenley Park’s Anderson Playground.  We traded email addresses and Cathy sent photos. Oh my!  It’s not an injured adult. It’s a fledgling great horned owl!

Great horned owl fledgling, Schenley Park, 29 Mar 2016 (photo by Cathy Bubash)

Great horned owl fledgling, Schenley Park, 29 Mar 2016 (photo by Cathy Bubash)

He’s old enough to fly, though he isn’t very good at it. He appears to be about 8 weeks old.

Great horned owl fledgling in flight, Schenley Park, 29 Mar 2016 (photo by Cathy Bubash)

Great horned owl fledgling in flight, Schenley Park, 29 Mar 2016 (photo by Cathy Bubash)

I visited the area at 4:30pm and found the owl safely perched on a hillside tree below the playground. His parents could find and feed him overnight … but where were they?

In all my visits to Schenley Park I’ve never encountered a great horned owl and never seen a nest.  I rechecked two abandoned red-tailed nests on nearby bridges. Nothing.

On Tuesday morning the owl was back on the asphalt at Anderson Playground so Public Works employees wisely called the PA Game Commission who collected the owl and delivered it to ARL Wildlife Center for evaluation.

Great horned owl fledgling rescued at Schenley Park by PGC, 29 March 2016 (photo by Kevin Wilford)

Great horned owl fledgling rescued at Schenley Park by PGC, 29 March 2016 (photo by Kevin Wilford)

It’s a good thing this owl was rescued.  He’s not injured but he is emaciated.  Did he have parents in Schenley Park?

Based on his age — two months older than our local owlets — I had a theory that he hatched in the South, perhaps the Carolinas, and was brought to Pittsburgh by someone who dumped him at the secluded end of the playground when he got too big.

But my theory was wrong! After publishing this blog I learned that a Public Works employee saw a great horned owl this morning at 6:45am near the Anderson Bridge.

In any case, while this owl fattens up he will have a good foster mom at ARL.  Martha the great horned owl will teach him everything he needs to know.

 

(photos by John English, Dana Nesiti, Cathy Bubash and Kevin Wilford)

Event:  This Sunday, April 3, 4:00-6:00pm, you can meet owls from the ARL Wildlife Center at their fundraiser at the Galleria of Mount Lebanon.  Click here to register.

p.s. Ravens are rare in the City of Pittsburgh but I saw a pair poke at the Homestead Grays Bridge nest on February 18.  They were agitated. Now I know why.  The owl was probably in the nest and just beginning incubation. Ravens hate great horned owls.

9 responses so far

Mar 30 2016

Too Early Spring

Published by under Phenology,Plants

Bloodroot gone to seed, Cedar Creek Park, 27 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Bloodroot gone to seed, Cedar Creek Park, 27 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Spring is coming in fits and starts but mostly it’s coming too soon in southwestern Pennsylvania.

On Easter Day I took a walk at Cedar Creek Park in Westmoreland County and found native plants blooming two to three weeks ahead of schedule.  No wonder! It was 75 degrees F.

At top, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) was already blooming. Some had gone to seed.

Spring beauties were everywhere. This Carolina spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) is identifiable by its wide leaves.

Spring beauty, Cedar Creek Park, 27 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Spring beauty, Cedar Creek Park, 27 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

The steep hillside known for snow trillium (Trillium nivale) …

Snow trillium, Cedar Creek Park, 27 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Snow trillium, Cedar Creek Park, 27 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

… was also hosting sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. acuta), some of which were past their prime.

Sharp-lobed hepatica, Cedar Creek Park, 27 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Sharp-lobed hepatica, Cedar Creek Park, 27 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

 

Get outdoors as soon as you can!  Spring could pass you by.

 

p.s. The Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania is already alert to this early growing season.  They moved up their snow trillium outing from April 2 to March 20.

(photos by Kate St. John)

One response 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 28 2016

A Song of Handsaws and Power Drills

Published by under Vocalizations

 

For two decades, Chook the superb lyrebird lived at the Adelaide Zoo, South Australia and wowed visitors with his vocal abilities.

Superb lyrebirds (Menura novaehollandiae) are the size of pheasants and native to southeastern Australia.  The males are famous for their courtship displays which include shaking their elaborate tails and accurately mimicking a wide variety of sounds.

In the wild, superb lyrebirds mimic natural sounds.  In 2009 there was a lot of construction at Adelaide Zoo.  When the breeding season came Chook faithfully reproduced the sounds of hammers, power drills and workmen whistling on the job.

Close your eyes at the 3:15 mark and listen to the handsaw!

 

(YouTube video from Zoos SA, Australia)

PEREGRINE FANS, I have no news since Saturday.  I will update you when news comes in. Meanwhile, here are links for all Peregrine News to date and Peregrine FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

p.s. Thanks to Ed McCord for pointing out this video.

5 responses so far

Mar 27 2016

Schenley Park Last Week

Published by under Plants,Schenley Park

Coltsfoot blooming in Schenley Park, 18 and 24 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Coltsfoot blooming in Schenley Park, 18 and 24 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Spring is early, as expected, so I wasn’t surprised to find leaves unfurling in Schenley Park last week.  Here are a few highlights from my walks in the past nine days.

Above, coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) began blooming on March 7 and was still flowering when I passed by on March 24.

Below, Ohio buckeyes (Aesculus glabra) are one of the first trees to leaf out in Schenley Park.  These leaves picked up fluff from other trees whose flower parts had blown away, perhaps a wind dispersal strategy.  The buckeye makes flowers that attract bees.

Ohio buckeye leaves unfurl, 24 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Ohio buckeye leaves unfurl, 24 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

 

Purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) began blooming March 10 and will continue for many weeks. Its flower has a spotted lip that says, “Land here, little insect.”

Purple deadnettle blooming, Schenley Park 18 and 24 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Purple deadnettle blooming, Schenley Park 18 and 24 March 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

 

The weather’s been mild so get outdoors soon. Don’t miss our early Spring.

Happy Easter!

 

(photos by Kate St. John)

One response 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.)

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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.

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