Save The Date: Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch, June 2-6

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon about to fly (photo by Kim Steininger)Some time between June 2nd and 6th the peregrine falcon nestlings at the University of Pittsburgh will take their first flight.  If I’m lucky, I’ll be there to see it.  Perhaps you will be too.

Fledging is one of the most dangerous times for a young peregrine.  He has never flown before and must learn on the first try how to steer and land.  His nest is several hundred feet up so he has a lot of air space, but he has to stay high because he doesn’t yet have the wing strength to rise from the ground.  If he lands on the ground that first day, he just stands there.  If he’s in the street he could be killed by a car.

In the early days of the Peregrine Recovery Program (1990’s) volunteers organized Fledge Watches at urban nest sites to monitor the fledglings and return them to the heights if they landed on the ground.  Since that time adult peregrines have adapted to urban sites and seem to be teaching their offspring to stay high.

There are fewer fledging accidents at the established sites and peregrines aren’t so rare any more, so the remaining Fledge Watches have morphed into social occasions and an opportunity to see peregrines do exciting things … which is why I plan to be at Schenley Plaza before and after work on June 2-5 and on the morning of Sat June 6th – weather permitting.

You’re welcome to join me.  I’ll post more details as the time approaches.  Save the Date.

(photo of a fledgling peregrine falcon by Kim Steininger)

18 thoughts on “Save The Date: Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch, June 2-6

  1. I will try to keep an eye out but we won’t be able to see much because the camera is focused on the nests. Hopefully you will post some pictures afterwards for those of us who live far away from Pittsburgh(like NJ).

  2. Hi, Kate.
    Don’t the fledglings on the Gulf Tower have an even more dangerous time of fledging? Will there be any volunteers watching for them? Will they be fledging a little bit sooner than the CL falcons? Thanks!

  3. Gulf Tower: By all means watch downtown if you happen to be there. I don’t know of a specific person to contact concerning the Gulf Tower. I watch at Pitt because that’s where I am.

  4. Kate: Is it my imagination, or the camera angle or what: But aren’t Tasha 2’s kids much bigger than Dorothy’s ? They appear to be twice the size of Dorothy’s.

  5. I have the summer off and could go Downtown after I drop my child off at his preschool. I would be happy to do this. When will the Gulf birds fledge?

    I’m not sure what side of the building they’re on – I might go down this week to scope it out and see if I can even see the adults flying around now!

    It would grieve me to no end, if one of the fledglings landed on the street and got hit by a car.

  6. Kate- I thought the Gulf chicks were about a week older than the COL chicks?

    Will they fledge sooner? Can you tell me when you think they will? I don’t know when to go Downtown to watch for them. Do you know which side of the building they are on? If you don’t, who would I contact to find out?
    Thank you.

  7. Whoops – Sorry Kate. I went to the Aviary website. The Gulf box is facing North, facing the Allegheny River. The chicks hatched around the same time the COL’s did.

    So, it would seem I could go Downtown in the same timeframe as the COL chicks are expected to fledge.

    Again, SORRY! I should have thought to look at the site sooner! The fact sheet lists most of the answers to any questions I have had.

  8. Fledge Watching:
    First, let me assure you NOT TO WORRY. The birds will do fine. They are not afraid of heights.

    They are also not accident prone. In the last 18 years, 61 young peregrines fledged at Gulf Tower and 25 at Pitt. Only three died near home and that came of flying into windows – not during fledging.
    (See why at:

    Though first flight is difficult, at the Pittsburgh sites they all get through it.

    The purpose of my “Save the Date” post is to offer an opportunity to watch a fascinating phase in the peregrines’ lives that can’t be seen on camera. It’s also an opportunity to meet fellow peregrine lovers and learn about peregrine behavior from those of us who watch these birds every day. I invite you to come to Schenley Plaza to learn about fledging before watching at Gulf. Both sites will fledge around the same time.

    You are welcome to watch at Gulf Tower. Best view is from the old Penn Station upper parking lot.
    As I said, I do not know if anyone organizes a watch at Gulf.

    If you find a downed bird call the PA Game Commission at 724-238-9523 and they will dispatch someone to rescue it, or call the Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center at 412-793-6900 for advice on what to do. Also read this on what to do if you find a fledgling:

  9. Hi Kate,
    Thanks for very interesting web site. I am learning a lot from your postings. Beautiful photos. The layout of your site is very neat. Is there a site with formats to set up your own site? I will google it.

    Do you have any bamboo stories? I planted some at home about 5 years ago. I know it is undesirable in most settings. My neighbor has it now! It is to late to put a barrier under ground. I am trying to harvest for stakes and mabe so creative endevor in the future. The shoots are coming up now about 6-8 inches.

    I will try to get down to the Plaza for some fledge sitings.
    Best Regards,

  10. Kate: Someone is at the Gulf Tower site right next to the babies…. (05/19/09 at 9:27 am) Are they supposed to be there? Just concerned…. they have a box and looks like they took the babies away….

  11. Kate: Never mind, they’re back!…. could it have been banding day for them? They look find and one of the parents came flying in just now at 10:00 am…..

  12. Yes, today was banding day at Gulf Tower. The person you saw was Beth Fife from the PA Game Commission, collecting them in a box. They were gone for an hour and now have nice new “bracelets.”

  13. What Did Tasha & Louie have- all boys or girls or 1 of each? Right now those 2 are giving me a heart attack-I know you said that they have never fallen out of the nest but for a short while there I couldn’t see either one of them. I finally realized that they were behind the column to the left of the camera but even then until Louie came to feed them or check on them I only saw one. Tasha brought something possibly a bird-(I did see feathers) but the chicks weren’t really hungry but that’s when I saw the 2nd one.

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