She’s a Healthy Girl!

A closeup of female peregrine chick C1 from the Cathedral of Learning nest (photo by Peter Bell)
A closeup of female peregrine chick C1 from the Cathedral of Learning nest 2016 (photo by Peter Bell)

It’s taken me a while to publish this because I couldn’t take any photos at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine banding this morning. Thanks to Peter Bell, Kim Getz and John English for lending theirs.

At today’s banding we learned, first and foremost, that C1 is a healthy female and Hope and Terzo are devoted parents.

Even before the PA Game Commission‘s Dan Brauning retrieved the chick, Hope guarded her baby and didn’t give up until C1 was indoors. Then she stayed at the nest kakking while Terzo provided backup support.

Kim’s (silent) video below shows the perspective from the ground about halfway through: Terzo flying back and forth, Hope leaving the nest to attack the humans when C1 was returned, then perched on the bulwark after they’re gone.


Here’s why I didn’t take any pictures: Dan Brauning asked me to hold C1 while he applied the bands.  (You can see I was concentrating very hard!)

Dan Brauning explains the banding procedure while Kate St. John holds the chick, C1 (photo by John English)
Dan Brauning explains the banding procedure while Kate St. John holds peregrine chick, C1 (photo by John English)

Dan weighed C1 (900 grams), checked for trichomoniasis (none!) and feather pests (almost none).  He dusted under her wings with anti-parasite powder and applied her bands.  Here she is with her new jewelry.

Peregrine chick, C1, with her new color bands, Black/green, 06/BR (photo by Peter Bell)
Peregrine chick, C1, with her new bands, Black/green, 06/BR (photo by Peter Bell)

Then Dan braved Hope’s wrath to return C1 to the nest.

Hope attacks the banders on Banding Day at the Cathedral of Learning, 2016 (photo by Peter Bell)
Female peregrine, Hope, attacks the banders on Banding Day 2016, Cathedral of Learning (photo by Peter Bell)
Female peregrine falcon, Hope shouts at the banders! Banding Day 2016, Cathedral of Learning (photo by Peter Bell)
Hope shouts at the banders, Banding Day 2016, Cathedral of Learning (photo by Peter Bell)

What a privilege to hold the chick and see her parents protecting her!


It’s a shame this will be the only peregrine banding in western Pennsylvania this year. Here’s why:


Why weren’t more peregrines banded in Penna. this year?


Peregrines are endangered in Pennsylvania so the PA Game Commission (PGC) normally visits every known nest site and attempts to band the chicks — that’s 9 locations in western Pennsylvania.  But this year severe budget cuts and layoffs forced PGC to band at only one site in the western half of the state — the Cathedral of Learning.

Why does PGC have a budget crisis?  They don’t rely on state tax dollars. They’re self-supporting through hunting license fees, timber sales, mineral extraction, and a federal excise tax on ammunition. But state law forbids them to raise the license fees that comprise 40% of their revenue. There hasn’t been an increase since the 1990’s.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you can help.

The Pennsylvania State House and Senate must pass a law — SB 1166 — to allow the Game Commission to raise the license fees.  Contact your State Senator and State Representative (find them here) and urge them to support “SB 1166.”

Click here for a letter about the budget crisis and information on what you can do.


(photos by Kate St. John)

39 thoughts on “She’s a Healthy Girl!

  1. So glad banding day was a success. What an honor to be able to hold the little gal!! She is growing so fast and will hopefully have a successful fledge. May she enjoy her life and eventually become a mother to little ones. She is a beautiful bird!!

  2. Kate, I would have given anything to be in your place!!! I am so glad that C1 is healthy and she is a girl. Hope and Terzo have really turned out to be awesome parents.

    1. Janet, she’ll remain C1. When she nests they can give her a new name if they want.

  3. I am sooooo excited and happy for you to have had the honor today, Kate!!!! What a thrill indeed! Also very happy to hear how healthy C1 is.

  4. Wow, what great pictures of C1 and her parents trying to be protective of her! I love her closeup. Glad to know she is healthy, and banded. Hope she has a great future along with Hope and Terzo. Thank you Kate and all who keep these cams, blogs and updates going.

  5. Congratulations, Kate … what an honor! Job well done! C1 is a beauty and so good to hear she’s healthy and doing well ! Admittedly, I was a little worried about Hope accepting her back when she was returned but all seems to be well. Thanks again, Kate, for all that you do to keep us updated and informed.

  6. Kate, Thank you so much for sharing the pictures and video of this banding day!
    We would not have seen this if it weren’t for you. Thank you to Dan Brauning and the Game Commission as well! So many of us are glued to the cam and your blog, Kate.

  7. I went to the website around 11:30 AM today& saw Hope with her wings all spread out standing in front of C1. I guess she was making sure that nobody else was going to come back to take her baby girl from the nest.

  8. C1, Hope and Terzo should all sleep very well tonite after their stressful day. I was watching the nest and I could tell something was going on before I even saw the human. Hope and C1 were both listening and turning their heads and seemed pretty agitated. Then C1 ran very quickly to the back of the nest (trying to make herself invisible — didn’t work for her), and I could hear Hope throwing a hissy fit. I can’t blame her. I know I would have done the same when our son was small if someone had tried to take him away from us! Thanks for the education on birds. They are so very fascinating!

  9. I’ll be the lone voice here opposed to banding. i understand peregrine falcons are still endangered in Pennsylvania. I have to think there are many other steps that can be taken to help them that would not involve interfering physically with them. Banding is almost like a dominance activity from my perspective. Look at us, we are the humans, we are in charge, we do what we want, when we want, to whatever species we want because we can. Er um, I mean in the name of science, because once you utter the word science it makes it all OK?. Sorry, no thank you.

    1. stan d ard, without science/tracking/etc we would not have peregrines in eastern North America. We “intruded” in their lives by reintroducing them where they’d gone extinct. … I am glad we have peregrines, as I’m sure you are too.
      p.s. When they are no longer endangered they will not be banded.

    2. Agree, our very existence, living in concrete cities, interferes with nature. I was wondering what a real peregrine nest looked like. After growing up in a concrete and gravel nest, would C1 know how to find or build a real nest?

    3. Deborah, the real nest is gravel on a cliff ledge so this bird will know what to do. It might prefer cities though.

    4. Thank you, Kate. I am from pgh, living in Atlanta now, and this is my first year watching the nest cam and following your blog. It has been a privilege to be an observer and a part of the concerned community.

  10. Thank you Kate for keeping us up to date on our Cathedral family. Wow, C1 was not at all accommodating when the human came to collect her for banding and her checkup. She’s one feisty gal! And Hope, too. It must have been so exciting for you to hold her – congratulations! And you do know we’re all jealous, right!?

    1. Patti, the green Astroturf cover on the front perch came off and is lying on the gravel. It looks strange but doesn’t hurt anything.

  11. Hi Kate! Thanks so much for sharing with us. So nice to see. So are they just guessing she’s a girl? Or did they do a blood test? I seen someone ask about giving her a name. I know they don’t usually name the chicks other than the letter + number. But don’t they usually give them a temp name when they band them(as per color of band)? Like lil Silver last year. Or are they changing that now with the new parents? Thanks again for keeping us all up to date.

    1. Candi, we know she’s a girl and there’s no need to do a blood test. Peregrine falcon males are only 2/3 the size of females so the sex of the chicks is reliably determined by weight. At 900g C1 is definitely female.
      We used to give the chicks a temporary name after banding and the name included the color of the tape on the USFW band. However, C1 already has her temporary name = C1. When she nests, those who monitor her can give her a new name if they wish.
      (Here’s the policy on naming: )

  12. Where are the other 9 peregrine sites in W PA? What ones are active this year compared to the past?
    I am so glad to have a healthy chick at Pitt this year – the fact she had almost no feather pests compared to last year’s chick attests to her vitality. I wonder if dusting her with pesticide anyway is not more harmful than just leaving her natural robustness to take care of it?

    1. Robin, the nine sites are: Cathedral of Learning, Downtown Pittsburgh (bldg), Monaca (bridge), Neville Island (bridge), McKees Rocks Bridge, Westinghouse Bridge, Tarentum Bridge, Kittanning Rt 422 Bridge, Erie PA waterfront (bldg).

  13. I think you and the others who do the banding are very brave and very dedicated. I understand your perspective that it is beneficial. As a lay person, I cannot see the point. I can only see the stress in these birds while it is being done. Sure we find out their weight and we will be able to track them (to some degree) in the future. I believe we have enough info by way of the nestcams, and personally, would prefer that banding be discontinued. That is my opinion, but I think there are many others who feel this way.

    1. Ellie, it will be discontinued when peregrines are no longer endangered. They aren’t banded in Ohio for that reason.
      p.s. I forgot to mention that the health check that’s performed on Banding Day is a benefit that would not be performed if the chicks were not banded.

  14. I’m bummed that I missed out on watching the cam live during banding day but I had a hunch it would happen while I was busy over the holiday weekend. However, I am very glad to see that C1 is a healthy female! It has been interesting watching as more and more of her feathers come in. It has been only a few days since I checked in and there has been major changes! It’s really amazing how quickly they grow!

  15. Just wondering if it is possible to pull camera view back somewhat so that C1 can be viewed while perched on the rim of the nest.

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