On Friday afternoon, 1 November 2019, Terzo called to his new mate Morela to court with him at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest, “Come bow with me!”
Morela arrived immediately and became so wrapped up in courtship that she didn’t realize she was crowding Terzo into the back of the box. When he had no room to bow, Terzo stopped courting and left the nest.
Morela turned and called, “Come back!”
This was a brief courtship display even though it may look as if Terzo was running away. How do we know it wasn’t aggression? Here’s the difference between courtship and a fight.
In courtship you will see two birds, one much larger than the other, bowing and “ee-chupping” in squeaky voices. This is a very ritualized Ledge Display with a pattern of who-does-what: the male arrives and leaves first; they bow and ee-chupp; the female stays after he leaves. The ritual steps of the Ledge Display are described at: Familiarities On The Cliff.
In a fight at the nest, two peregrines of the same sex (equal size) lock talons, scream at the top of their lungs and try to peck, wound and kill each other. The fight does not stop until one of them is dead. There’s more information on this at Fidelity to Their Mates and Fighting. For a slideshow of a famous fight at the Pitt nest see Peregrine Fight at the Nest, 18 March 2007.
Ledge Displays are typically very brief outside the nesting season but Morela wasn’t done. Soon enough she’ll learn how to bow without crowding Terzo.
Don’t worry. They’ll be back.
(video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)