Every year Hope, the mother peregrine at the Cathedral of Learning, kills and eats some of her chicks as they are hatching. Among all the peregrine families on camera this behavior is quite abnormal.
This spring some of you wondered if Hope’s behavior would be passed down to her female offspring. The way to find out is to watch one of her daughters nesting on camera (the behavior cannot be seen otherwise).
Are any of her daughters nesting? Here’s the status of Hope’s fledged offspring:
- How many young has Hope fledged during her nesting years so far, 2010-2018? 10 fledglings: 4 at Tarentum Bridge plus 6 at Pitt.
- How many of her offspring are banded? 8. (We can only re-identify her young if they are banded.)
- Subtract known deaths. Of 8 banded offspring, 3 banded are known dead, 5 banded are presumed alive. (*)
- How many of the living are female? 3
- How many of her offspring have been reported nesting? NONE
- How many of her offspring have been seen anywhere since they left Pittsburgh? NONE
In Hope’s nine years of nesting (2010-2018), she has averaged only 1.1 fledgling per year. None of them has ever been seen again.
By contrast Dorothy, the previous female peregrine at Pitt, averaged 3.0 fledglings per year. (If you don’t count her three elderly unproductive years her average was 3.7.) At least 12 of Dorothy’s kids went on to nest in the Great Lakes region, many on camera. Dorothy has children, grandchildren, great-grands and probably great-great-grands by now. She was a matriarch.
What is Hope’s legacy? So far as we know, nothing. We do know that none of her banded daughters are nesting on camera.
p.s. Hope’s potential of fledglings/year is higher than Dorothy’s. Hope averages 4.25 eggs per year at Pitt; Dorothy averaged 3.93. Hope has fewer fledglings/year because half of her hatchlings do not survive the hatching period.
(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
(*) Living offspring: We will never know the fate of Hope’s 2 unbanded offspring because we cannot identify them. If they are both alive then Hope has 7 living offspring. Due to the 60% mortality rate among young peregrines, it is statistically likely that Hope has only 4 living offspring from 2010-2018, not 7.
.Details: Hope: 10 fledgings/8 years = 1.1 Dorothy: 43 fledgings/14 years = 3.0 –or– 41 fledglings/11 years = 3.7