Vigilant Against Red-Tails

Morela scans the sky, 8 Nov 2019, 1:09pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

November is a busy time for raptors on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Migrating red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks pass overhead while the Cathedral of Learning peregrine pair, Terzo and Morela, watch the skies and defend their territory.

Morela is especially vigilant against red-tailed hawks. Months before we knew she was on campus, @PittPeregrines noticed a peregrine kept chasing red-tailed hawks away from the Cathedral of Learning.

  • Aug 26, 2:40pm — Red-tailed hawk hovering over the 20th Century club is chased north and hit repeatedly by a Pitt peregrine.
  • Sep 13, dusk — A peregrine leaps off the Oaklander Hotel and chases a red-tailed hawk, grounding it on the lawn at William Pitt Union.

Hope and Terzo didn’t bother with red-tails so something had changed. It was Morela.

Was she involved in this incident? On Friday Nov 8, Pitt Police and a PA Game Commission Game Warden rescued an injured red-tailed hawk from the patio at Tower B. (The tweet says “falcon” but don’t worry, it’s a hawk. No news on its injury.)

In their photo tweet you can see the Barco Law Building in the background. Kim Getz works there and has been keeping track of the red-tailed hawks that hang out at the Law School. She hopes the injured bird wasn’t this adult that keeps the rodent population under control …

Adult red-tailed hawk dining at the Barco Building (photo by Kim Getz)

… or this curious youngster.

Immature red-tailed hawk at the Barco Building (photo by Kim Getz)

By 3pm Saturday afternoon, 9 November 2019, I was sure that at least one adult red-tailed hawk was doing just fine. I watched it glide low just below tree height on its way to Frick Fine Arts while Terzo and Morela performed a courtship flight at the Cathedral of Learning.

At 4:12pm Morela made a round of her territory from Schenley Plaza to Heinz Chapel and the Cathedral of Learning.

All is calm. Morela rules.

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh, @PittPolice and Kim Getz)

5 thoughts on “Vigilant Against Red-Tails

  1. I love hearing about Morela! She’s awesome! But can’t see her. Is the falcon cam down? I keep getting the pink circle of doom

    1. Mary Kate, Ozolio forgot to turn off the Falconcam when the contract ended last July. They just turned it off last week. We were lucky to be able to see it in October! It will be back up in early 2020.

  2. Great photos of the red tailed hawks. Thanks to Kim Getz for sharing. And thanks, Kate, for keeping us updated on Morela’s activities. She clearly wants this nest site for her future chicks and will do her best to protect those chicks. Looking forward to what comes next.

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