If a peregrine lives long enough she can represent four generations all by herself. 

This is the case with Dorothy, the female peregrine at the University of Pittsburgh.  This year she’s a mother, as usual, but she’s also a grandmother and great grandmother at the same time. 

  1. As a mother she laid five eggs this spring, hatched the entire crew and is now busy raising them.
  2. She’s been a grandmother for many years with at least six offspring nesting in three states.  One of her daughters is Beauty in Rochester, New York.  Another is Belle, who nests in the bell tower at the University of Toledo, Ohio. 
  3. Last week Bell’s son, Chayton was identified as the father bird at the peregrine nest on the Jackson County Tower Building in Jackson, Michigan.  This makes Dorothy a great grandmother!
  4. And what’s the fourth generation?  Herself.

Quite the matriarch.

(photo of Dorothy by Jessica Cernic Freeman)

17 thoughts on “Matriarch

  1. Great information, Kate. We’re all proud of the great job Dorothy is doing in helping to restore the peregrine population. And she’s a joy to watch! Thanks.

  2. And isn’t E-2 Dorothy’s grandson? From the nesting background I got: Louie born to Dorothy and Erie at the COL 2002 now nesting with Dori and previously with Tasha 2. E2 born to Louie and Tasha 2 in 2005 at the Gulf Tower. Now nesting with Dorothy since 2008 – so these chicks are both her children and great grand children…..

  3. Lucie, this relationship is no big deal for peregrines but confuses/troubles people until they realize that…

    Peregrines are not social creatures. They don’t know their descendants. As my friend Karen once said, “They never have dinner together, so how would they know?” I’m sure this happens more than we know among birds/animals who do not live in social groups. The only reason we know this is because these birds are banded.

    And, no, it has had no effect on the viability of the “kids.”

  4. I realize that it has no bearing on birds or other animals. I asked that of my Shih Tzu breeder when I saw in her lineage that her father was also her great grandfather and was told that is how they perfect the line…. in order to get the desired results (^+^). Dorothy is really a beautiful bird and I am glad she has been producing for so long.

  5. I just saw Louie feeding Dori while she sat on the chicks. Then she got up and he passed the food to her to give the chicks – then she finally took over the prey and finished feeding them. What a great family moment!

  6. Picture & info great. Printed it up for myself. Hope to make it to Oakland over Mem.Day wkend. I am planning to come so I too can look up & get a crick in my neck along with everyone else.

  7. Just looked in on this site and found out about the “family tree.” So even though they mate for life, if possible, they aren’t social with other peregrines?

  8. BuddieMarie, correct. Solo peregrines who have a territory but no mate will advertise for a mate using elaborate flying demonstrations that can be seen from afar. However, once they have a mate they will chase off all other peregrines.

    Social birds flock together for at least part of the year. Highly social birds, like parrots, hang out in flocks almost all year.

    Peregrines are never in a flock!

  9. Thank you for all of the information Kate! It is amazing!

    And a fantastic pic of Dorothy!

    Kate, another thank you for the hotspot from May 4 showing a night feeding. I thought they would stay in the nest all night and not feed until daylight. This hotspot proves differently! These cams are so educational and fun!

  10. The infrared lights for the cameras have taught me a lot too. It’s unusual that peregrines get up at night but the city lights help them see, so this may happen more than we know.

  11. Perhaps the IR light is causing the birds to behave differently. The chicks seem to cluster in the light area at night. If this is causing them to be warmer, then they may be active at different rates than birds without a nice heatsource at night. Is there any data out there to support this? Maybe some nests with a passive night vision camera?

  12. Steve, I’m not sure that’s the case. The young birds have always clustered at the back of the box whether or not there’s a lamp. It’s the safest place to be and night is a dangerous time for young birds. Safest place? Witness their reaction when Beth Fife came to retrieve them for banding.

  13. One question I do have, sort of out of line; why are the nest boxes so shallow. I noticed when the little ones started hatching that mommy was having trouble keeping them covered, especially when the winds blow.

  14. What’s happening at the Gulf Tower? I hear the chicks churping but then I hear louder Churping or Cawing coming from off camera probably from either Dori or Louie but I can’t see them. Is there another Peregrine trying to invade their territory?

  15. Joann, No one’s trying to invade. Louie perches on top of the camera and yips encouragement to his entire family. The people at Make-a-Wish (offices near the nest) say Louie is a very vocal bird. They hear him all the time!

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