All The Right Moves

SW and Boomer in courtship flight, Cleveland, Ohio (photo by Chad + Chris Saladin)
SW and Boomer fly upside down in courtship flight, Cleveland, Ohio (photo by Chad + Chris Saladin)

Peregrine falcon courtship is underway in Pittsburgh but you’re missing a lot if you only see it on camera.

Peregrines have many courtship rituals that get them in tune for the breeding season.   Here’s what you’ll see at any one of Pittsburgh’s seven peregrine territories.  Click on the links below for additional descriptions and photos.

  1. Prominent perching:  Peregrines perch in prominent locations to show they own the place.  Established pairs perch near each other.
  2. Cooperative hunting: The pair goes out hunting together.  He kicks up a flock while she stoops on likely prey.
  3. Ledge Displays:  Peregrines display on the nest ledge over the scrape, at first alone then as a pair.  These are the only displays you’ll see on the falconcams.
  4. Courtship Flights:  Peregrines court in the air with speed and precision.  They even fly upside down (shown above).
  5. Food Transfers:  The male provides food for his mate.
  6. Copulation: Here’s how it’s done.


In our area the females lay eggs between mid March and early April, one egg every other day. Watch for the first egg at the Cathedral of Learning and Gulf Tower on the falconcams.

How will you know an egg is due soon?  The female will start to spend the night at the scrape a few days before her first egg.

In the meantime, our peregrines are making all the right moves.  Eggs coming soon.


(photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)

19 thoughts on “All The Right Moves

    1. Terka, I’m afraid I don’t understand your question. Perhaps auto-correct changed some of the words…?

  1. Thanks, Kate. Looking forward to watching some exciting times at the Cathedral and Gulf Tower.

    Question for you. Besides seeing the size difference which makes it pretty obvious to tell which is male/female, I have difficulty telling which bird is Dori and which is Louie. For help with that, I look at the bird’s left leg band. Dori and Louie both have right bands which are black/green but is Dori’s left band purple, and is Louie’s silver? Thanks so much for your help.

    1. Terka, perhaps this will answer your question. Do they bow only over the scrape or elsewhere in the gravel? Early in the breeding season peregrines will make more than one scrape and will bow over these locations. Eventually the female will pick one of the scrapes in which to lay her eggs. There are 2 obvious scrapes at Gulf Tower and probably two at the Cathedral of Learning though they are hard to see.

    1. The kisses are beak-touching. I don’t know why they do it but it’s part of their ritual.

  2. Yesterday I saw one of the birds at the nest on the CL snapshot camera and it looked like it was eating something, but there weren’t feathers all over the place. Would the female be eating the male’s “food gift” at the nest? It was something relatively small she was clutching and didn’t have any obvious feathers on it.

  3. Whoops, in my post above, I got the legs mixed up. Left legs have black/green bands for both Dori and Louie. The bands on their right legs are the ones that I can’t quite make out, although it appears that Dori’s is dark, maybe purple, and Louie’s is silver. Is that correct? (My apologies for getting them mixed up.)

    Any help that you can provide, Kate, would be much appreciated.

  4. If Hope showed up ASAP after dorothy disappeared, doesn’t It seem obvious that Hope disposed of the “queen?” If they mate for life, E2 figured it out pretty quick.

    1. Karen, there was about a four week lag between the last time we saw Dorothy and the first time we saw Hope. We never saw 3 peregrines (indicating an intruder) and we saw no fight. Dorothy disappeared, lots of time passed, and then we saw Hope.

    1. kc, in my experience the time of day isn’t as important as the weather. They are really fond of wind and like to show off when the wind is good.

  5. The question has risen as to whether or not peregrines eat the pebbles/stone in their scrape. I thought i read in one of your blogs that they could ingest some to help with their digestive system but am now being told it is not true.
    Could you please clear this up for me? Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *