Fledged For A Ride

Fledgling Peregrine from Downtown on car roof  (photo by Ericka Houck))
Peregrine fledgling on the roof of a pickup truck, 30 May 2013 (photo by Ericka Houck, National Aviary)

30 May 2013

This morning was way too exciting!

When Paul, the owner of this pickup truck with a roof rack, returned to his vehicle near Third and Wood there was a large raptor on his roof.  He thought it would fly when he drove away but it didn’t.  Grounded young peregrines like this one just stand there.

As Paul drove through Downtown Pittsburgh motorists and passersby shouted, “There’s a bird on your roof!” How to get rid of it? Paul drove to the National Aviary (1.8 miles away including crossing the Allegheny River) in hopes they could solve his problem. The peregrine hung on. 

Aviary staff Chris Gaus and Teri Grendzinski called the PA Game Commission emergency number 724-238-9523 and captured the bird for safe keeping until a Wildlife Conservation Officer could arrive and return the bird to a high launch near its Downtown nest.  In the meantime the Aviary nicknamed the bird “Paul” for the driver who rescued him.

We hope “Paul Peregrine” will learn from this mistake and not go car surfing again any time soon.

Thanks to the National Aviary staff Teri and Chris for the rescue and Ericka Houck for the Twitter photo.

NOON UPDATE on “Paul’s” return:  Here’s a photo from Amanda McGuire showing “Paul” returned to the rescue porch across the street from the nest.  (The nest itself is inaccessible.)

Rescued peregrine waits for Mom & Dad to feed him Downtown, 30 May 2013 (photo by Amanda McGuire)
Young peregrine on the Downtown rescue porch (photo by Amanda McGuire)

UPDATE on 30 May 2013, 5:00pm:  At 3:30pm I received news that a second fledgling was standing on the sidewalk near Point Park University.  Point Park police sheltered her and the PA Game Commission took her up to the same high spot where “Paul” was perched.  When they dropped off his sister (yes, she’s female), “Paul” flew away (yes, he’s male; the size difference was obvious).  “”Sis” is getting re-oriented and will eventually leave on her own.  

Three of the four Downtown chicks flew today.  I wonder where the third bird is.

(photos by Ericka Houck at the National Aviary and Amanda McGuire at Point Park University)

19 thoughts on “Fledged For A Ride

  1. you have to love these birds. fledge and a jitney ride to the aviary. Then pick up and delivery from the game commission. I couldnt do that even if I was a bird.

  2. Oh my! How wonderful that the circumstances were such that Paul was a kindly truck driver and “Paul” the PEFA hung on through the ride to the Aviary. Such good luck all around to keep this bird safe. I suspect that Dori and Louie will thrilled to have “Paul” back. They may need to tell him to be more careful on his next solo flight though….

  3. Was the game commission able to band him since they had to handle him to return him to the nest area?

  4. Kate. A baby peregrine falcon is on the ground and scared…..
    I called the game commission and they did not see to respond with any urgency.


    1. Point Park police are guarding the bird in a safe place & waiting for the Game Commission to arrive…. again. This is probably the second one. Three flew today. Wonder where #3 is…

  5. Mary Ann, I was wondering the same thing about if they would’ve taken the opportunity to band the chicks since they had to be rescused anyway, but judging by the picture of Paul after he was returned, he doesn’t appear to have been banded. Either way, that’s a crazy story, though I think I would’ve looked up the number for the aviary/game commission and called them rather than trying to drive to the aviary with a bird clinging to my vehicle.

  6. I went by this evening and saw one young bird on the railing pictured above. I’m assuming it was Paul. One adult was on top of the same building, able to keep an eye on Paul and the last chick at the nest site. I drove around all the surrounding blocks and found no other Peregrines on the buildings or on the ground. Kinda a good thing, but I wish I would’ve found the others. Lots of noisy construction going on close by made it impossible to hear any calling.

    1. Thanks for checking on them, Shannon. I hope the second adult was watching the other two. What an amazing day!

  7. Call me the devil’s advocate here, but wouldnt the safer option for the bird be to call the aviary and or game commission to come meet him at the site rather than risk the birds life while driving nearly 2 miles?

    1. “Misc”, well yes but I guess Paul-the-driver thought Paul-the-bird would fly at any moment and solve his problem. When the bird stayed with him he took the bird to the most logical place. By the way, Teri at the Aviary told me that it was hard to get the bird off the roof because the pickup was high and the rack — for construction/remodeling equipment — was even higher. “Paul” shrugged off the net they tried to throw over him. The whole story is most incredible!

  8. Still smiling over this story. Kudos all around. Paul the peregrine looks a bit disgruntled in both photos, like he’s wondering how he got there. Keep up the good work, Kate!

    1. No one has seen all 4 at the same time since the first three fledged. Since none of them are banded there’s know way to know which one you’re looking at, so you’d have to count all four at the same time to confirm them.
      It is not significant that two were grounded considering the site. This nest site is quite low compared to the former Gulf Tower site and the Cathedral of Learning. Gulf was 370 feet up. Pitt is 400 feet up. This site is only about 130 feet up.
      The parents chose this site & seem to like it despite these challenges. We’ll have to see what happens next year.

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