Pitt Peregrine Discovered at Neville Island

Male peregrine at Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Peter Bell)
Male peregrine at Neville Island I-79 Bridge was born at Pitt (photo by Peter Bell)

2 June 2015

Though all eyes were on the peregrine chick at the Cathedral of Learning last Friday, it was also Banding Day at a second Pittsburgh area nest.

After wrapping up in Oakland, I went with PGC’s Art McMorris and Dan Puhala to the Neville Island I-79 Bridge.

Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Kate St. John)
Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Kate St. John)

While Art and Dan climbed in the bridge structure with their PennDOT guide, I kept my feet firmly on the ground with nest monitors Anne Marie Bosnyak and Laura Marshall, and with three peregrine enthusiasts: Pitt follower Peter Bell, and Canton, Ohio peregrine monitors Chad Steele and Ray Glover.  Chad and Ray drove two hours to see this banding because the mother bird, Magnum, hatched in downtown Canton in 2010.

Magnum kaks a warning, 29 May 2015 (photo by Peter Bell)
Magnum defends her nest, 29 May 2015 (photo by Peter Bell)

Magnum kicked up a fuss(!) kakking, swooping, even running, always shouting at the top of her lungs.

Her nest is hidden in a box-like recess so the only way Art could retrieve the chicks was to perch over open water and reach in barehanded to feel for them one at a time.  Magnum positioned herself inside the nest between Art’s hand and the chicks and slashed at him with her talons every time he reached.  Ow!

Art McMorris of the PA Game Commission hands off a peregrine chick at the Neville Island I-79 bridge, 29 May 2015 (photo by Peter Bell)
Art McMorris of the PA Game Commission hands off a peregrine chick at the Neville Island I-79 bridge, 29 May 2015 (photo by Peter Bell)

While this was going on Magnum’s unidentified mate gave vocal support from a distance.  For years we’ve known he’s banded but couldn’t read his bands. In the excitement he perched above us and Peter got a clear photograph: Black/Green 05/S.

Male peregrine at Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Peter Bell)
Male peregrine at Neville Island I-79 Bridge, Black/green 05/S (photo by Peter Bell)

I whipped out my Pittsburgh peregrine genealogy (who else would carry this!) and scanned the band numbers.  Surprised to find a match, I learned this bird hadn’t traveled far.  He hatched at the Cathedral of Learning in 2010, son of Dorothy and E2 and the older brother of this year’s chick.  Unnamed at banding, (temporary name was White) Anne Marie and Laura can now give him a permanent name.

His four nestlings at Neville Island I-79 Bridge — three male, one female — are E2’s grandkids.  They’re due to fledge around June 11.

The Pitt Peregrine dynasty continues!

(bridge photo by Kate St. John.  All other photos by Peter Bell)

PGC = Pennsylvania Game Commission

26 thoughts on “Pitt Peregrine Discovered at Neville Island

  1. and don’t forget… Dorothy’s grandkids too!
    I’m secretly calling the male E3, since he’s E2’s son, who was named (by luck, but good luck) after Erie, who turned out to be his (E2’s) grandfather!

    But Laura and I may have to arm wrestle over the name!!! 😉

  2. Anne Marie, yes Dorothy’s, too, but related in ways too complicated to describe. 😉
    And I want to specifically give E2 credit for this one. So many of Dorothy’s descendants are kids of Erie’s.

  3. This is all so very cool. I am new to all of this but so very fascinated. It takes some very brave and dedicated people to go up into those nests so you can give us this info.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Such awesome news!

    I stopped by yesterday around noon-got to watch a prey exchange, and Magnum eat the meal virtually right above my head on the bridge beam. While I stayed in my car the entire time in an effort to not disturb or distract her (and still had great viewing), she made 2 or 3 swooping passes overhead. Maybe she’s still extra on guard from last week’s intrusion!

    Such gorgeous, bold birds…and four nestlings…we’ll have a busy fledge watch here!

  5. It’s always great news when one of Dorothy’s kids gains their own territory, and especially exciting when they keep close to home! Can’t wait to hear the name chosen.

  6. It is so gratifying to know where the kids end up. It’s a great payoff for all the time watching the nests online. Will there come a time when they no longer band?

  7. Makes sense re: wanting to highlight E2’s lineage…. Do we know of any other Dorothy and E2 offspring, besides Henry, who has or has attempted a nest?

    1. Anne Marie, other kids of Dorothy+E2 who attempted/successfully nested:
      2008 Male, at Tarentum Bridge in 2010, not in 2011
      2009 Female, Killen Power Station Wrightsville, Ohio as of 2011
      2010 Male, at Neville Island I-79 Bridge, confirmed 2015
      2011 Male, “Henry” at Tower East Shaker Heights, 2012, gone in 2014 (maybe gone in 2013)
      2011 Female, blue tape, Green Tree water tower, 2013. Gone in 2014
      2012 — no reports
      2013 & 2014 — no offspring (dead or none hatched)

    1. Patti, I don’t know when the Pitt nestling will fly. If he/she was on schedule it would be between 6/18 and 6/26 … but with a 5 day developmental delay it might be between 6/23 and 7/1. I will know it’s close when he/she looks all brown/cream and starts to ledge-walk.

  8. Giddy! My word is giddy as to how all of these discoveries make me feel. These are wonderful creatures indeed.

  9. Kate, if seven stories up on a building in downtown Pittsburgh is not high enough for our downtown falcons to fledge, how is the understructure of this I79 bridge high enough for these falcons to fledge when the time comes? Won’t they land in the river?

    1. Carol Mc, sometimes they do land in the river. We found out about this nest when one of the ‘kids’ was rescued from the river several years ago. Fortunately the young can also land on the bridge piers.

  10. Thanks, Kate. I miss the Hays eagles very much, but watching the little guy (gal) at Pitt brings much joy to me. Sure hope he continues to thrive with his super parents!

  11. I am new to this site. What happened to the single baby who seemed sickly? Is it OK ? I gleened from the comments that maybe he is just developmentally delayed. Thank you so much for the work you are doing. I love following their progress. …; )

  12. Wow.. thanks Kate!
    and by the way.. when you whipped out that peregrine band list from your pack the other day to match to Peter’s photos.. I just giggled and thought EXACTLY what you wrote above… who else, but Kate, would have that list in their backpack! 🙂 Glad you did… so exciting!

  13. Hhhmmm … pensive and even MORE interested about the genealogy.
    Can you whip out your book again please…

    Questions … if you know: {Human terms}
    Since you are the “keeper” of the records.

    Born– age now : 16 …. so 1999 ?
    “Moved” into the Cathedral : When ?
    Has been there continuously ? Or has she moved around?

    First “husband” : Erie = E
    From where ?
    Born : Year ?
    Died : in fight… right?

    Second “husband” : E2
    From where?
    Since when?
    Age :
    Is E2 directly related to E ?

    When Dorothy dies, hopefully many moons away… will E2 court a new “wife” to maintain the nest? Or will this nest be “up for grabs” .

    Thank you for indulging my questions


  14. Thank you so very much for that link. Thank You, Thank you !!!
    This is … WOW !!! … beyond amazing !
    These records are a “celebration” of survival, to bring back a species from the edge of extinction and to ensure their future. I’m in awe. Kudos to all. 🙂

  15. If the folks know the falcons are going to peck and scratch them with talons, why don’t they wear protective arm covers?

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