It Appears That C3 Has Died

C3 appears to be dead as Hope feeds C1, 5 May 2016, 9:48am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ)
C3 appears to be dead as Hope feeds C1, 5 May 2016, 9:48am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ)

More bad news.

Viewers watching the falconcams this morning began to wonder if C3 was dead because he’d been unresponsive for many, many hours.

By 9:48am when Hope brought in food, it appears that C3 has been dead for a while.

Hope continues to shelter the dead chick along with C1.

In some peregrine couples, the mother shelters the dead chick until the father takes the body away. I am not sure what this couple will do.


(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

p.s. Some of you have said this confirms your worry that C3 was not being fed enough.  Those of us who have watched peregrines for many years went back thorough the footage and confirmed that C3 was fed as much as C1 (i.e. his parents offered him food) but he would not eat as much.  He exhibited something we call “failure to thrive.”

84 thoughts on “It Appears That C3 Has Died

  1. However C1 is growing and seems to be very healthy at this point. We will all hope for its chances to continue growing and eventually fledge. Even with all the continuing nest drama there is still a positive with C1.

  2. All of this drama with our new COL couple really puts into perspective how remarkably capable (and steady) Dorothy and E2 were as parents, when they were in their respective primes. In many ways, I can say I was guilty of taking their skills at successfully raising so many chicks for granted. As we’re seeing now with Hope and Terzo, it’s not that simple. Hoping the best for C1. -C.

  3. Yesterday, it seemed like Hope was feeding C1 and ignoring C3. She’d give him a crumb or two, but nothing compared to what she was giving C1. This has been one heartbreaking season.

  4. The “new” parents aren’t having a ton of luck with the first clutch. But if they manage to raise C1 to successfully fledge, that’s movement in the right direction. Is there one egg left to hatch? I didn’t see it in the photo. (I thought there was a total of four eggs.)

  5. Susan, I’d noticed the same thing when watching the nestcam a couple days ago. The larger C1 was getting all the food while the smaller C3 kept trying to crawl around C1 to get to the food but didn’t appear to be getting any.

    It also appears that Hope is just as slovenly a housekeeper as Dorothy was.

  6. I’m so sad, but nature takes the course it’s suppose to. This season had a rough start with Hope laying 3 egss with E2, then E2’s sudden death, Hope looking for a new mate, Terzo arriving and Hope laying a 4th egg. We tend to humanize our animal friends even though they don’t think or act human. I have high hopes for C1 surviving and for future clutches at the COL. It has been a rough season for many watching the various webcams.

  7. So very sad to hear this. I just read (here: that the mortality rate for falcons in their first year is ~60%; I wouldn’t have thought that losing two chicks so young is normal, but maybe this isn’t as unusual as we’d expect?

    Well, regardless, here’s hoping for much better for C1 (and C4 if s/he hatches!)

  8. Kate, I saw on the pitt peregrine facebook page that Hope and Terzo were putting on a flying show yesterday around the Cathedral. Is that normal behavior when they re brooding? Thanks Janet

    1. Janet, yes that is normal during prey exchange. The male transfers to the female in the air

  9. It looks like the various comments over the past week worrying about whether the eyases were getting enough food turned out to be true. I also noticed C3 not being fed even though he/she was squawking for food. He should have been growing all along but didn’t seem to be getting any bigger. Very sad.

    1. Claire, those of us who have watched peregrines for many years went back thorough the footage and confirmed that Hope attempted to feed C3 but he didn’t accept much food. He exhibited something called “failure to thrive.” This is different than the worries I heard coming from observers. I heard, “I am worried that Hope is deliberately not feeding C3.”. That worry was not true

  10. Such sad news although not that surprising. As others have commented, it did not seem as if C3 was being fed as much as C1.

    And to Chris W’s comment: so totally agree with it. We were totally spoiled by the amazing success that Dorothy and E2 had with their young ones. Perhaps theirs was the anomaly and the more normal/typical results are what we are now witnessing with Hope and Terzo. Praying that they will learn and improve, and keep C1 thriving.

    1. PA Gal … C3 was fed as much as C1 but he did not eat as much. … “failure to thrive”.

  11. I’m beginning to have a sneaking suspicion that the three eggs Hope laid earlier were possibly compromised by the long wait for Terzo and the hard cold snaps that we had at that time… (All speculation, I know.)

    1. Larisa, I think you’re on to something. Incubation was not steady for the first 3 eggs because Terzo was present but not incubating yet. Hope & Terzo were still getting to know each other.

  12. I wish there were a way to know if C1 was Terzo’s or E2’s. I have given thought to the fact that 3 were E2’s and one Terzo’s. Probably means nothing….

  13. Following up on what Larisa and Kathy said, the egg Terzo fertilized was laid on April 2nd and C1 hatched 27 days later on April 29th. We aren’t sure exactly when incubation began, but in any event since incubation usually lasts 33 days, isn’t C1 likely to be E2’s offspring? And since today is 33 days since April 2nd, if the last egg is Terzo’s and it is viable it should hatch anytime now.

  14. We’ll, it’s happening again. It’s 4:34 on 5/5 and Hope is feed C1 the remains of C3. Nothing in nature gets wasted.

  15. Well darn , she just fed the dead baby to C1.
    It’s a strange honor to see nature in all its reality.

  16. Here is what I saw transpire. Hope brought in a rather large bird (maybe a robin) around 3:30 or 4:00. It looked completely uneaten. She picked at it a few times, hopped back on the ledge without eating or feeding it to C1 and flew off. Terzo came in very shortly thereafter and brooded. Hope came back within a half an hour without any prey. Terzo immediately flew off. She quickly fed the dead chick (C3) to C1. It look less than four minutes and C3 was still opening his beak for more food. Hope ate little if any of C3. She then settled in to brood. About five minutes later, Terzo returned with a fresh kill. Hope immediately took the prey from him, he flew off and she fed C1 until the chick was full.

  17. Donia, that’s what it looked like to me, too. Although Hope ate a little of C3 after she fed most of C3 to C1. Hope made those chirping calls to Terzo, asking for food, while she was brooding C1 and very shortly thereafter, Terzo returned with food.
    I am wondering, whether or not C4 hatches, if it would be a such good idea to disturb this nest to band the chick(s) or if that will result in further disruption and complications? Maybe best leave the new pair alone to sort things out?

    1. Robin, banding will be OK. The stuff going on here has — so far — nothing to do with humans.

  18. I hope the food supply becomes more abundant if C4 hatches. Otherwise h/s will become a meal for C1. It is the strangest feeding situation I have seen. Hopefully this couple can adapt together so next year things will be more enjoyable to watch. Makes me respect Dorothy and E2 even more.

  19. The chat on the eagle cam reported that yesterday Terzo accidentally stepped on C3’s head, C3 made a loud squawk, and hadn’t been right since. Thankfully, I was not watching at the time, and did not witness this, but could that be why C3 wasn’t eating?

    1. Robin, your observation that C3 was never as vigorous is right on. That’s “failure to thrive.”.

  20. I wonder if there’s some tainted pigeons out there in the mix. Although the robins and the migrating songbirds should be ok. Did anyone ever find out where Louie and Dori are nesting this year?

    1. Tainted pigeons: no. If there were, Hope & Terzo would be sick and disabled, possibly die. As you see, they eat the same food as the kids.

  21. I was actually watching when Terzo stepped on the little one, at first he seemed to be trying to get him out of the way and then his foot came down on part of him. I did not think C3 would survive it. What was strange is prior to that happening, a feeding had been going on and all of the food was being given to C1. C3 kept trying to get around for some of it, but I only saw the adult give him one piece, and then flew out of the nest with what was left of the carcass. That was the 2nd time I had seem that happen….where Hope left with remaining food even though C3 had not had much. Right after that, I saw Terzo come back in nest and that’s when C3 got stepped on, and then Terzo started brooding the chicks and egg.

  22. Kate, I too thought about the timing of laying and hatching. I think the one that has not hatched yet is Terzo’s.

  23. I agree with Larisa above about the eggs. Had it not been for E2’s untimely death, I have to wonder if instead of seeing this, we might have been looking at 4 or 5 healthy chicks in the nest with everybody commenting on the great parenting. I don’t think any of the current situation reflects on Hope or Terzo, but rather on the circumstances they were dealt.

  24. I see the pip too. I think I can see a little movement inside as well. Hoping to finally catch a hatch live!

  25. Aw, yay!! I thought I was seeing a pip, too, but then figured I must be imagining it. Here’s hoping for a happy, healthy hatchling!

  26. Not sure what is happening. I believe it is Hope and she looks to be trying to break the egg open. I’ve never seen an egg hatch so I don’t know if this is normal behavior or not. It does not look good to me.

  27. It looks like C4 has been fed to C1 as well 🙁

    I have to think Hope has her reasons. She is obviously working hard to keep C1 healthy. We can’t imagine how stressful this season was for them.

  28. Hope pulled C4 out of the egg and it appears that she is now feeding it to C1. It didn’t look alive when she pulled it out.

  29. Hope just killed another chick and ate part of it and fed the rest to the remaining chick. She pulled it out of the egg so she couldn’t have known if anything was wrong with it so quickly. Why has she done this? And should we be fearing the future of the remaining chick?

  30. The remaining chick seems so hungry. Are they feeding it enough? Is seems weak. Does that indicate a problem or is that normal behavior for a chick at this age? I hope this one won’t be Hope’s next meal.

  31. Looks like C4 has experienced the same fate as the previous 3 siblings. I wonder if something awful happened at the previous nesting site to cause this type of reaction from her. Is it a learned behavior? We’ll never know. Adequate food doesn’t appear to be the issue. Next year, if she returns to CL and the nestlings meet the same end, maybe we can guess the answer. Nature is cruel at times.

  32. I sure have the unlucky touch….just as I viewed for first time today, the adult bird, I think Terzo was carrying around the egg which had many pips, he tore apart and ate some and fed most of it to C1.

  33. Anyone know the type of yellow bird Hope brought to the nest around 1:55 Fri and ate/fed to the chick? Didn’t last long. Lunch was served.

  34. Hope this little one is healthy and tough and parents are able to feed both chicks equally. Fingers crossed for a happy event. Have enjoyed watching Rochester chicks growing. Dorothy would have been proud of her grandchicks. Her legacy continues through her daughter B. Awesome mom!!

  35. After that feeding, another bird was brought in for lunch. I don’t live in Pittsburgh any more so is there a shortage of pigeons, which I wouldn’t think could happen? I wish they would do a deep cleaning there like they did on the Gulf Tower.

    1. Luann, there is no shortage of food. The problem is that Hope mistakes her own chicks for food. I don’t know why.

  36. Kate, that is an interesting point – that she mistakes her own chicks for food. Maybe that is why C1 was ok; he was the 1st and there where no other chicks to feed him to. Although, she did allow C3 to survive until he failed to thrive. What a mystery.

  37. Kate, what are your feelings about C4? I know you said that she is mistaking her chicks for food. Why is she working so hard to take care of C1, and also trying to feed C3 before he died? I would really appreciate your opinion. Also she fledged 4 from Tarentum, right?

    1. Janet, see me latest blog post. She fledged 2 in 2012 & 2 in 2014 for a TOTAL of 4.

  38. This behavior Hope is exhibiting is so discouraging. Hopefully it is not behavior which will be repeated next year. Had such high hopes for this nest when Hope came to replace Dorothy. Perhaps the death of E2 plus having an inexperienced new mate forced her to make decisions about the survival of only one chick. Hopefully C1 will survive. There are no more siblings to be eaten.

  39. They say that raptors build up pollutants in their system, as they are highest on the food chain. But could her behavior also be because of the disruption in the normal mating, egg laying and incubating cycle that is sending her mixed signals?

  40. When there was one male, Louie, at Gulf, he made the new female incubate the old female’s eggs. But don’t females often abandon their egg clutches when it is the other way around, a previous female with a new male?

    1. Females don’t abandon their eggs and they don’t eat their chicks. Well, I guess there’s bound to be one out there that’s abnormal.

  41. There are many successful peregrine stories this year to make up for this sad and unusual event. Rochester NY has 4 chicks, Boise has 4 new chicks, Lansing MI has 4 new ones. All are being cared for by doting parents. Feel sad for Hope. She is such a beautiful bird.

  42. Thank you Kate for letting me know that was Hope, not Terzo, that I was seeing today. And many thanks for all the information you provide so quickly on this nest, especially when you are covering so many other subjects as well.

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