Make that Five Out of Five!

Every egg has hatched!   The last chick is pictured above, hatching at 5:35pm.

Baby peregrines have now emerged from all five eggs at the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh. 

This is remarkable because of their history.

In mid-March Tasha, the former female resident, laid two eggs but her clutch was not complete when she was challenged by Dori for ownership of the nest site. 

On the night of March 19th the challenge was intense when viewers heard peregrine wailing on the webcam.  The next morning Tasha was seen on camera for the last time.  By that evening Dori had won the site and bowed with Louie over the nest scrape. 

While Louie and Dori got to know each other, Tasha’s two eggs were unattended. 

Then, at the end of March, Louie started to incubate Tasha’s eggs and made it very clear to Dori that she should put her eggs with Tasha’s when she was ready to lay them. 

On the night of April 2, Dori laid her first egg in Tasha’s nest scrape.  By April 7 she had laid three eggs and she was incubating all five.

Since Tasha’s eggs went unattended for two weeks and Louie incubated them fitfully during that period, many of us thought that only Dori’s three eggs would be viable. 

Not so!  It’s a tribute to Louie’s perseverance and Dori’s new mothering skills that all five have hatched.

So now we have five baby peregrines at Pitt and five at Gulf Tower. 

Watch out, pigeons!

(photo from the National Aviary webcam at the Gulf Tower, captured by Marianne Atkinson.)

33 thoughts on “Make that Five Out of Five!

  1. Amazing! Maybe this will lead to new insights on how long eggs can remain unattended, and still be viable.

  2. I guess we will never be able to know which bird is by which female without a DNA maternity test. Isn’t that ironic? How will the banders handle this?

  3. Beautiful! I always held out hope for all five. It was a thrilling experience to watch the fifth chick emerge, holding my breath, as so many others did, waiting for it to move. Nature is amazing and humbling.

    Kudos to Tasha for taking the fight with Dori away from the nest. In their last meeting, she seemed to be communicating to Louie that he was in charge of their two eggs. Kudos to Louie for keeping the faith. And Kudos to Dori for accepting Tasha’s eggs and now caring for Tasha’s chicks along with her own. My hope now is that they all thrive.

  4. This is such great news and may baffle scientists or provide new insight into the sturdiness of this raptor and eggs!

  5. Wow, look out pigeons is right. We have the potential for 14 Peregrines within a few miles of each other this fall. It will be interesting to see where they all eventually end up. Is there a place where we can find out this information, where the banded birds end up being seen and/or nesting?

  6. WOW, 10 babies!! There will be alot of feeding going on in both places. I wonder how scared the pigeon population has gotten in Oakland and Downtown since the nesting of peregrines. I have noticed that the Frick Fine Arts fountain doesn’t have very many birds hanging out.

  7. Could it be Tasha with a new mate?? Kate, I work at the VA Hospital in Oakland – there is a tall radio tower (I’m assuming that’s what it is….may be WQED’s??) There is a nesting pair of what I think are peregrines part way up the tower. Monday we heard baby birds peeping and looked up to see one of the parents bringing food! I brought field glasses in today and could see the parents pretty close – they do appear to be peregrines. I’m wondering if it’s Tasha with a new mate and new offspring. I left a message on Todd Katzner’s voicemail at Aviary to get his thougts on this. Has anyone observed this new family? How wonderful if it is. Would it be common for so many peregrine families to live in such close proximity to one another?

  8. Fran, the birds you are seeing on the tower are probably red-tailed hawks. Is the nest built of sticks? Do the birds have rusty red color on the top of their tails?

    Why not peregrines? Because the tower is too close to both Downtown and Pitt. Louie & Dori *and* Dorothy and E2 would not allow other peregrines to nest that close to their home range. Peregrines in Pittsburgh need about 3 miles between nests. The next nearest peregrine nests are on bridges at McKees Rocks and Tarentum. (There was one at 62nd Street Bridge but it is unused this spring.)

  9. No, they’re all there. Because peregrines nest on cliffs their chicks are “programmed” not to fall out of the nest and not to walk out of it. They are good at hiding though. They’ll get even better at hiding as the days go by.

  10. Fran & Kate — I also work at the VA — I’ll check QED’s tower tomorrow.

    Around 10-12 years ago, I was leaving the back parking lot, by the tower, and sadly found a red-tail who had (probably) been killed by a car. I called the Aviary to report finding it, but by the time anyone got there someone had removed it. I don’t recall seeing a band, and I’m sorry to say I was afraid to pick it up — mostly didn’t want to get bugs & such in my car!

    Anyway, red-tails have been up there before, and probably are again. I will look.

  11. I don’t see the 5th chick getting fed by Dori – I’ve only been counting the 4 and the 5th doesn’t seem to be standing up. Is it because it’s only about 24 hours old? I hope there is nothing wrong with it.

  12. WTAE Channel 4 made the falcon cam a main story. Have the newspapers or other stations done any stories? I suggested that PCTV21 Pittsburgh Community Television show some bits from the nests. The school teachers should also be alerted to this rare opportunity to see nature in the urban city.

  13. I ran up to the top of my street to see if I can see the hawks by the VA hospital and I did. Here’s a pic of the only one that I saw. I couldn’t see a nest and this one never moved over the course of of 15 minutes or so. I’ll run back up when the weather breaks. It looks like a red-tailed, but the light was horrible.

  14. Regarding “Who’s the Mother?”
    A bird’s parentage is not recorded at banding time so the fact that some of the peregrine chicks at Gulf are Tasha’s and some are Dori’s will not matter to the banding records. It does frustrate those who track peregrine genealogy but this situation is not unusual. I’m sure they have a way of handling it.

    Regarding DNA tests:
    Some of you asked if there will be DNA tests done to determine parentage of the chicks. No. It’s expensive to do and as I mentioned above it doesn’t matter to the banding record nor does it matter to the future of peregrines as a species. (In other words, there are so many peregrines now that parentage and the gene pool are not a concern for their viability as a species.)

  15. For more links to media reports, check the comments under the “Four Out of Five” blog.

  16. Anyone who might be worried about the 5th chick at the Gulf Tower should watch the hotspot created by jetta called “see 5 chicks”. It is a wonderful clip which includes Louie chick-sitting, with 5 bobbing heads clearly visible.

  17. I am so happy that all 5 eggs hatched! It is just amazing! I was a doubter that Tasha’s eggs would hatch, due to the cold weather and sporadic “incubation” by Louie, until the real incubation started. This is great scientific food for thought and research! 🙂

  18. I’m getting concerned about the fifth chick, too. I’ve been glued to the webcam for the past few days, and in all of the feedings I’ve witnessed, the poor little guy (girl?) has been ignored each time. It’s so sad to watch. It uses up all of its strength to stand up and cry loudly, but the food always goes to its siblings. Why isn’t she feeding him/her?

  19. Regarding the fifth chick:
    If you have been watching bald eagles on camera I can understand why you’d worry about the smallest peregrine chicks. Bald eagles sometimes ignore their smallest, weakest youngsters who then eventually starve.

    Peregrines are not like bald eagles. Peregrines are very good about feeding all of their chicks and will even yip at them to encourage them to stand up and be fed.

    As an example: Two weeks ago folks were concerned about the smallest chick at the Cathedral of Learning nest because at every feeding one of the smaller chicks would stand back and wait to be fed while all the others were pushing forward. It turns out this chick was using a wait-and-see strategy to get LOTS of food after his brothers and sisters were full. Dorothy and E2 continue to offer food even after some of the chicks turn away so this last chick was getting all the food the others were too full to eat. At today’s feedings it was impossible to determine which chick may have been the “weak” one because all of them pushed forward.

    So it is too early to worry about the smallest chick at Gulf Tower. Wait and see.

    p.s. Keep in mind that male peregrines are always smaller than females — 2/3 their size. No amount of food will make male peregrines as large as the females. This means that peregrine parents must feed all the chicks. If they fed only the largest chicks they would never have any male offspring.

  20. Hi everyone. At the 08:02 hotspot the 5th chick can be seen laying with it’s head down on the right. It doesn’t look look like it took food- hard to tell though.

  21. I witnessed just such a wait-and-see strategy at the Cathedral a few evenings ago. One chick was just sitting behind the others watching as they ate but once one of the chicks in front of it turned around and seemingly went to sleep, the chick in the rear clambered over top of it to get at the food. At one point, the rear chick actually appeared to be sitting on top of the one that had turned away. Quite amusing.

  22. I looked yesterday for a nest on QED’s tower, but didn’t spot one — the sky was very bright and full of sun-glare — maybe worse on a day with diffuse overcast than a clear day. Even with sunglasses, and even trying to block the sun a bit, I couldn’t look up long enough to see anything. I’ll try when viewing conditions are better.

    I did spot a pair of red-tails hunting between the VA and the Birmingham Bridge a little later in the day. Could be the tower-dwellers!

  23. Can they move the camera back at the Gulf Tower now that all the chicks are hatched? I can hardly see them through the greenery & I would like to see more of the nest as they will soon be starting to walk around a little more.

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