Peregrine falcons in southwestern Pennsylvania lay eggs from March through early April. By the last week of March some pairs have already begun to incubate while others are still courting and mating.
Here’s the latest news from eleven sites near Pittsburgh where peregrine falcons have been confirmed or could be nesting. If you live near one of these sites, stop by and let me know what you see — or don’t see. We need news from the sites marked (**).
1. Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh
2. Downtown Pittsburgh, near Point Park University
3. Westinghouse Bridge, Allegheny County, over Turtle Creek
4. Elizabeth Bridge, Allegheny County, Monongahela River (**)
5. McKees Rocks Bridge, Allegheny County, Ohio River (**)
6. Neville Island I-79 Bridge, Allegheny County, Ohio River
7. Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge, Beaver County, Ohio River
8. Monaca-East Rochester -or- Monaca-to-Beaver RR Bridge, Beaver County, Ohio River (**)
9. Hulton Bridge / Harmar, Allegheny County, Allegheny River (**)
10. Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny-Westmoreland County, Allegheny River
11. Route 422 Graff Bridge, Kittanning, Armstrong County, Allegheny River (**)
BUILDINGS IN THE CITY
Cathedral of Learning, Univ. of Pittsburgh
Of all the peregrine sites in Pittsburgh, the Cathedral of Learning is the easiest one to watch because the nest is on camera. Hope laid five eggs March 11-21, 2019. Now she and her mate Terzo are incubating. In the March 25 Day In A Minute video above you can see their daily routine. Hope spends the night on the eggs, Terzo brings food (off camera) at dawn, Hope leaves, and Terzo takes over incubation. Then they switch off periodically.
Their eggs will hatch during the week of April 21-27, 2019 — but don’t get excited to watch them hatch. Every year Hope kills and eats some of her chicks while hatching. Very unusual and very abnormal!! I always advise folks not to watch. It is upsetting.
This year Dori and Louie are nesting on Third Avenue opposite Point Park University’s Lawrence Hall because the Gulf Tower is unavailable. This means they aren’t on camera.
Lori Maggio confirmed that peregrine eggs were still in progress Downtown on March 21 because she saw the pair mating that day.
BRIDGES ON THE MONONGAHELA RIVER and TRIBUTARIES
Dana Nesiti visited the Westinghouse Bridge many times in early March and usually found the pair mating — as shown in his March 17 photo above. On March 24 John English and I visited the bridge and heard a peregrine calling. Soon the male arrived and went back and forth to the (hidden) nest area. Eventually he stayed inside and the female flew out and around the valley. Perhaps this pair is incubating now.
Elizabeth Bridge (defunct)
Last year a pair of peregrines nested in a cubbyhole in the upper arc of the Elizabeth Bridge. Unfortunately, that location is very unsafe for fledglings and all of their offspring landed on the roadway and were hit by cars.
This year while the bridge is still under renovation PennDOT blocked the cubbyholes. No peregrines have been seen for several weeks now, but we need additional confirmation that they aren’t nesting there. If you live nearby or use this bridge please look for peregrines and let me know what you see — or don’t see.
BRIDGES ON THE OHIO RIVER
McKees Rocks Bridge
Peregrines have nested at the McKees Rocks Bridge for many years but are always hard to monitor because the bridge is so large. John Flannigan captured a distant photo of the pair on March 4, 2019. More monitors are needed. Please contact me if you’re interested.
Neville Island I-79 Bridge
Peregrines have nested successfully at the Neville Island I-79 Bridge since at least 2012. This spring Anne Marie Bosnyak saw them mating at dusk on March 19 so we know eggs were in progress a week ago. This pair may be incubating now.
NEW LOCATION! In late February and early March Mark Vass reported a peregrine — and then a pair — perched on the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge over the Ohio River. This bridge is a logical place halfway between two peregrine sites, Neville Island and Beaver, but its superstructure is “made of air” — open trusses with crossbars — so it’s hard to imagine where a nest could be. Last week Karen Lang began checking the bridge and has seen a peregrine every time she’s looked — March 20 and 25.
Monaca, Rochester, Beaver area
Peregrines have usually nested on a bridge in the Monaca – East Rochester – Beaver area but no one is monitoring them this year. Can any of you help?
BRIDGES ON THE ALLEGHENY RIVER
Hulton Bridge, Harmar
In January Gina Gilmore photographed a banded female peregrine hanging out near the Hulton Bridge on the Harmar side. Since then many observers have visited there because the Harmar bald eagles have laid eggs — but there’s no news of a peregrine. Has anyone seen a peregrine at Harmar lately? Please let me know.
Further up the Allegheny River there’s a lot of peregrine activity at the Tarentum Bridge. Yesterday morning, March 25, Dave Brooke stopped by to take pictures and saw the pair mating. The Tarentum female is very loud so you can’t miss her even if you can’t see her. Perhaps incubation will begin soon. (p.s. the male is banded and has a clear chest; the female is unbanded and has a spotted breast)
Graff Bridge, Kittanning
Peregrines have nested successfully on the Graff Bridge (Route 422) at Kittanning for at least four years but no one is currently monitoring the site. Please let me know if you’re interested.
(photo credits: Cathedral of Learning: national Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh, Downtown Pittsburgh by Lori Maggio, Westinghouse Bridge by Dana Nesiti, Eagles of Hays PA, Elizabeth Bridge by Elizabeth Cain, McKees Rocks Bridge by John Flannigan, Jr, Neville Island I-79 Bridge by John English, Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge from Wikimedia Commons, Beaver-Monaca RR Bridge by Kate St. John, Hulton Bridge from Gannett Fleming, Tarentum Bridge by Dave Brooke, Graff Bridge from Wikimedia Commons)