Clash of the Titans

Red-tailed hawk, Peregrine falcon (photos by Chuck Tague)

20 November 2007

As I arrived this morning at WQED I glanced out my office window and saw a red-tailed hawk zoom by, hotly pursued by a peregrine falcon.

Apparently the peregrines at University of Pittsburgh are beginning to feel territorial.  The peregrine won, of course.

Today at lunchtime the peregrine pair did some courtship flying, then landed at the nest area.  The pigeons ran for cover.

>>> December 21, 2007 >>>
At lunchtime I was standing on the corner of Neville and Winthrop waiting to cross the street when I saw a red-tailed hawk suddenly dip low over my head. A peregrine was attacking it!

Neither bird made a sound. This show of strength was completely understood by the red-tail. The peregrine dove again with talons out, then left for the Cathedral of Learning. The red-tail continued flying toward Central Catholic.

When I returned after lunch the peregrine was on the antenna on top of the Cathedral of Learning, the red-tail was on the top cross at Central Catholic. Everyone in their rightful place.

>>> January 30, 2008 >>>
I was talking on the phone and looking out the window toward the Cathedral of Learning when I noticed a red-tailed hawk had just perched on the side of the Central Catholic steeple. He was having a hard time staying upright because of the wind. He kept ruffling his feathers and rocking.

Then I saw a dot come off the Cathedral of Learning and grow in size as it approached Central Catholic. I knew it was a peregrine.

The peregrine flew in with the wind behind him, flipped over and dove at the red-tail, even though the red-tail was still perched on the downwind side of the narrow steeple. The falcon did this twice, swinging back and forth in the wind, alarming the hawk. On the third try the red-tail left the steeple with the peregrine in pursuit. They flew out of sight.

Totally cool!

Needless to say, I couldn’t keep up my end of the phone conversation while this was happening.

>>> 2 April 2008 >>>
In February I noticed that the male at the Cathedral of Learning had different colored bands than the previous male, Erie.  It took a long time to figure out the new male’s identity — his name is E2.  Based on behavior, I think that E2 arrived before the November Clash of Titans. In his zeal to claim the territory he also subdued the local red-tailed hawks.

(photos by Chuck Tague)

2 thoughts on “Clash of the Titans

  1. Glad to come upon your blog. I look daily at the website from New York Central Park. You might enjoy the amazing pictures as well.

  2. Love tracking this through column. Aren’t they such a magnificent Bird. I wish someone would put Bat Houses for the Eastern BATs (tHEY don’t have teeth) The farmers Barns are gone —they live in the peak of my house and I watch them come out in the summer eve and watch them fly. I don’t have any flying or biting insects

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