E2 Found Dead in Friendship

E2 at the Cathedral of Learning, June 2010 (photo by Peter Bell)
E2 at the Cathedral of Learning, June 2010 (photo by Peter Bell)

Sad news of the Cathedral of Learning peregrines at the University of Pittsburgh:

Yesterday afternoon, March 16, a woman in the Friendship neighborhood of Pittsburgh found a dead peregrine falcon face down in her backyard.  Because he was banded we learned he was E2.

E2 hatched at the Gulf Tower in 2005, the son of Louie and Tasha. He arrived at Pitt in November 2007 after his predecessor Erie had disappeared.  He was 11 years old.

Last seen on the Cathedral of Learning falconcam at 12:37pm on Tuesday, March 15, E2 died less than a mile and a half from home.  He had a broken right wing and leg and blood in his mouth.  We don’t know what happened but it appears he was hit broadside. (*)

When E2 last visited the nest there was only one egg (photo below shows his bands).  Hope laid her second egg 4.5 hours later.  Though she sometimes sits on the eggs, she may have not begun true incubation.

Last picture of E2 leaving the nest, 15 March 2016, 12:37pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)
Last picture of E2 leaving the nest, 15 March 2016, 12:37pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

At this point in the nesting cycle — egg laying — E2 brought food to her every day, mated with her, and cached food on the cliff.  His custom was to visit each egg after it was laid.  He did not visit the second egg.

By now Hope has figured out that he won’t be coming home.

Hope will begin to hunt for herself again.  For a while, she’ll protect the eggs but not incubate them.  Eventually she’ll advertise for a mate by circling above the Cathedral of Learning.  If a new mate arrives in the next few weeks, the pair will bond and she will lay a new clutch two weeks later.(**)

There is no time to be sad. Peregrines don’t grieve, especially in March when their hormones are driving them to reproduce.  Between now and September they must defend a territory, mate, lay eggs, and raise young to self sufficiency. There is still time for Hope to raise a family if she finds a mate soon.

Goodbye, E2. I’m sad and unhappy about your untimely death but I know there’s no time to grieve.

My greatest wish right now is that Hope will find a new mate really soon.

We will watch and wait.


(photo of E2 at top by Peter Bell. Last photo of E2 from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

(*) When a peregrine swoops low over the street he can be hit by a vehicle.  There are many reasons for swooping low including pursuit of prey and chasing an intruder.

(**) There is precedent in Pittsburgh for re-clutching with a new mate. Read about the Gulf Tower in 2010.

Many thanks to Art McMorris and Bob Mulvihill for keeping me informed while I’m traveling. And special thanks to Caitlin for reporting E2’s bands.

43 thoughts on “E2 Found Dead in Friendship

  1. So sad for Hope she had just found her new mate. I am praying that she is able to find a new mate and lay again this year. I know they don’t grieve but I can’t help but think she looks sad and lonely on her perch.

    1. Pat, we do not know what will happen — might be incubated, might not. There are many possibilities. We must watch and wait.

  2. Very sad news. Fly free E2.
    Too bad it happened now, with nesting in full swing.
    If Hope finds a new mate quickly, there still could be a successful season for her.

  3. Wow, so sad. I’d just checked the CoL cam to see if Hope had laid her 3rd egg and saw her sunning herself/shading the eggs then went over to Facebook and saw this news right on top of my news feed. RIP E2.

  4. Sad news, but a big “Thank You” to the woman who found him and apparently took the time and trouble to notify someone, so at least it’s known what happened.

  5. I am fairly new at observing peregrines. I watched the demise of the poor little chick last year while my husband was in the hospital.I waited for Dorothy to come back while my husband was in a nursing home. My husband passed away 1-5-16. Now E2 is gone. I know death is a fact of life, but is it a norm that an entire peregrine family is wiped out in 8 months?

  6. Such sad news. Thank you, Kate for the update and encouraging information that she can still mate and succeed in raising a family this season. Thanks also to the woman who found E2. Will keep watching and hoping.

  7. I pray that I have the strength of a peregine falcon. The handicaped eyass we prayed for, Dorthy demise and now e 2. No fledges from this nest for several years. Hope hope can find a mate BC and bring life back to the cathedral.

  8. I wonder if her old mate from the bridge had anything to do with it. We’ll keep our eyes on the cam for a potential new male.

    I’m so sorry Kate and all of E2’s fans, it’s a sad day 🙁

  9. What a tragedy! The year started out with so much promise, with the pair downtown hanging around the Gulf Tower nest, and Hope arriving to revitalize the Cathedral of Learning nest. Now the Gulf Tower nest appears abandoned and Hope has lost her mate. It was different when Tasha disappeared because in that situation, it seemed that Dori had challenged her and won, so Louie had a new mate immediately. I wonder what the odds are of an unattached male peregrine being in the vicinity of the Cathedral of Learning in the near future.

  10. So deeply sad for E2 – after yesterday’s post I was excited to better learn how to distinguish him from Hope in the nest! I keep reading that Hope still might incubate their eggs, but under what circumstances might that occur? Is it really possible for a ‘single mom’ falcon to raise her chicks alone? And is there info on how many ‘bachelor’ falcons might be in the area now?

    Well, whatever happens, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to watch E2 and Hope’s lives over the past few weeks. And if Hope does stay at the Cathedral, it’s nice to think we have E2 to thank for bringing her there.

    1. Stacyj, Hope will incubate if she gets a mate. She knows she cannot raise them alone.

  11. Oh no, this is horrible news. Praying for Hope and the eggs. Just can’t believe this has happened….

  12. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking but I think I recall a similar situation with the Franklin Institute red tail hawks. T2 the father was killed mid season and T3 “adopted” the nest and helped raise the family. I searched and couldn’t find the exact story but I think that may be how it went. I’m just praying Hope finds her “T3”.

  13. This is sad news. Rest in peace E2. Nature can be heartbreaking for us humans. Price we pay for the amazing look into their lives. Blessings for Hope, that she will carry on.

  14. I’m so sad to hear about E2’s death. Wow, what a difference a year makes! Both are gone. And, new intrigue begins at the Cathedral with Hope and 2 eggs. I know I will be watching to see how the season develops. Thanks Kate for all that you do!

  15. Well, there are 3 eggs now as of 2:22 A.M. and Hope is just standing over them. Just checked the camera before heading to bed an saw it (Yes, I’m a night owl). Guess only time will tell what will happen.

  16. Thanks, Kate, that makes sense. I was assuming that if Hope got a new mate and laid a second clutch, the first clutch would go neglected … Glad to hear that isn’t a foregone conclusion, even if nobody really knows what will happen at this point.

    As I type this Hope is sitting on the eggs – for their sake, here’s hoping she starts advertising soon!

  17. to je smutná zpráva,je mi to moc líto.

    [Translation from Czech language via Google Translate: “It is sad news, I’m so sorry.”]

    1. Děkuji, Dana.
      {Translation from Google for my English-speaking readers: “Thank you, Dana”}

  18. One thing I was wondering about: how does the “advertising for a mate” flight differ from a falcon’s other kinds of flying around their nest? I thought they also flew around to signal that a nest was occupied and for intruders to stay away, don’t they? Is the difference just in that there’s only one falcon rather than two flying around? Does the actual flight pattern look different?

  19. Has Hope started advertising for a mate, yet? Has the juvenile mate she had last year still hanging around the Tarentum bridge? Is there an approximate idea of how many unattached peregrines live or fly thru the region at this time of year? Are peregrine population estimates based on frequency of territory fights? Hope has had more than her share of problems in finding and keeping a mate, so it seems to me there aren’t that many peregrines in the Pittsburgh area despite the number of fledglings produced each year. It is very distressing because E2 was such an attentive mate and father, and his death is a big blow to peregrine recovery. Gulf Tower is not that far away. Is there a chance Hope might make a play for Louie or a possibility Louie might try for 2 mates like Dot Com did with Dorothy’s daughter Beauty in Rochester?

    1. Robin Anthony, no one knows the answers to most of your questions. The male at Tarentum has never been identified so there is no way to know if he is the same one here/there or anywhere. No one knows how many peregrines are floaters. We do know that there must be a lot of floaters because residents are frequently challenged in March. Population estimates are made many ways. For instance, PA peregrines are still endangered based on the number and location of nest sites, not the number of floaters. Will Hope visit Downtown? Don’t know. Will Louie try for 2 mates? Doubtful. He is 14 years old, too old for a young guy’s game.

    1. Bethany, no. The necropsy information is many weeks away. Even then it will probably say “died of blunt force trauma”. There were no eye witnesses to what actually caused the blunt force trauma.

    2. Someone proposed on another site that he was fatally injured in a fight with another male. But I was under the impression that it may have been the result of swooping in front of a vehicle of some sort.

    3. Bethany, based on the description of E2’s injuries and activity at the Cathedral of Learning since his death, I believe his death was an accident not a fight because:
      1. His condition was described to me as massive right-side and internal injuries, the type of injuries that cannot be inflicted by another bird but can be inflicted by a vehicle.
      2. If there had been an intruder we would have seen him by now. There is not a second peregrine yet. Hope is alone.
      More on this in today’s blog.

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