Look For Peregrines Now Through March

Morela at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 10 Feb 2020, 16:15 (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

In the run up to egg laying, peregrine falcons perch prominently and perform stunning aerial courtship displays. February and March are the best months for confirming peregrine nest sites and discovering new ones. In southwestern Pennsylvania we need observers to look for peregrines. I hope you can help.

In 2019 we found 10 peregrine pairs in the Pittsburgh region. Two on buildings (red dots at Cathedral of Learning and Downtown Pittsburgh) and eight on bridges (blue dots).

Peregrine falcon pairs in southwestern PA in 2019 (map by Kate St. John)
Peregrine pairs at bridges in southwestern PA in 2019 (photo by Steve Gosser)

Two of the bridges, Ambridge and 62nd Street, were not(*) confirmed even though adult peregrines are regularly seen there. Nesting can’t be confirmed until someone sees a peregrine take food to a nest or a nestling/juvenile in or near a nest.

There are 10+ Peregrine Sites to watch in southwestern PA. Please leave a comment if you can help or if you’ve seen anything. (Confirmed nest sites in prior years are marked with #.)

Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh #: This nest is on camera so we’ll easily confirm it this year.

Downtown Pittsburgh #: We know there’s a peregrine pair Downtown but we don’t know who they are (Louie died last summer) and we don’t know where they’ll nest. Lori Maggio is Downtown’s lead observer but the area is a big place to monitor. Help wanted!

Downtown Pittsburgh as seen from Mt. Washington near the Monongahela Incline (photo by Kate St. John, June 2016)
Downtown Pittsburgh as seen from Mt. Washington (photo by Kate St. John, June 2016)

OHIO RIVER, Monaca-Beaver Railroad Bridge -or- Monaca-East Rochester Bridge # Peregrines choose one of these bridges to nest on each year — it’s all the same territory. A pair was seen on the railroad bridge in November. Observers needed!

Monaca-Beaver RR Bridge + Monaca-East Rochester Bridge

OHIO RIVER, Ambridge Bridge: This site hasn’t been confirmed as a nesting site though peregrines are seen here often. Mark Vass saw one on 8 Feb 2020, Karen Lang saw two on 9 Feb and one on 10 Feb & 11. More observers needed!

Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge (image and map from Wikimedia Commons)

OHIO RIVER, Neville Island I-79 Bridge #: In use as a nest site since 2012, Jeff Cieslak photographed a peregrine on the bridge on 4 February 2020.

Peregrine at Neville Island I-79 Bridge, 4 Feb 2020 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

OHIO RIVER, McKees Rocks Bridge #: Even though this bridge has been a nest site since 2008 it’s hard to monitor because it’s 1.38 miles long. Peregrines are best seen from the McKees Rocks side. I haven’t heard of any sightings yet.

McKees Rocks Bridge (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

ALLEGHENY RIVER, Graff Bridge, Rt 422, Kittanning #: In use by peregrines since 2016, this bridge is best monitored from the bike trail under on the Kittanning side. I haven’t heard of any recent sightings.

U.S. Route 422 bridge over the Allegheny River at Kittanning, PA (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
U.S. Route 422 bridge over the Allegheny River at Kittanning, PA (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

ALLEGHENY RIVER, Freeport Bridge: Peregrines haven’t been known to nest here but one was seen during the winter. Is this a new nest site? Observers needed.

ALLEGHENY RIVER, Tarentum Bridge #: The Tarentum Bridge, which has a nestbox, has been in use since 2010. Dave Brooke photographed a peregrine here on 30 Jan 2020.

Peregrine at Tarentum Bridge, 30 Jan 2020 (photo by Dave Brooke)

ALLEGHENY RIVER, Highland Park and 40th Street Bridges: These bridges may be too close to existing territories … or are they? Are peregrines hanging out at these bridges? Observers needed!

ALLEGHENY RIVER, 62nd Street Bridge: There’s been a nestbox on this bridge since 2007 but no peregrines on site until 2019 when a banded female was identified and a fledgling seen at Tree Pittsburgh near the bridge. I hear it’s easy to see the nest box from the Pittsburgh downriver side. Be the first to confirm nesting at this site!

62nd Street Bridge over the Allegheny River, 2007 (photo by Dan Yagusic)

MONONGAHELA RIVER WATERSHED, Westinghouse Bridge over Turtle Creek #: Peregrines have used this bridge since 2010. Dana Nesiti photographed one here on 9 Feb 2020.

Peregrine falcon at Westinghouse Bridge, 9 Feb 2020 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Look for peregrines in February and March. We need your help to re-confirm every site.

Please leave a comment if you can help, if you need directions, or if you’ve seen anything. Thanks!

(photo credits are in the captions)

7 thoughts on “Look For Peregrines Now Through March

  1. Thanks to you, Kate, and all the watchers for keeping us up to date on peregrines in and around Pittsburgh. Watching from afar and loving to read about them! Wish I was in the area to help.

  2. I travel across the Highland Park Bridge frequently and that is Sea Gull City, USA. They are all over/under that bridge. I’ll keep an eye out but I’m thinking that the presence of gulls might deter peregrines. What do you think?

  3. Our pair is definitely back at the Tarentum bridge. We’ve seen one intermittently through the winter (even saw it take a bath in the Allegheny river! Stayed busy at it for about 20 minutes on one of those warmer days several weeks ago.) But yesterday and today there were 2! They did their aerial acrobatic flying up over and through the bridge for about 15 minutes or so, then both went into the nest box for a bit…awesome pair bonding experience to watch. They fledged 3 last year; hoping for successes this year too!

  4. I am 95% sure we have a Peregrine hanging out near our back yard in Mt Lebanon near Twin Hills Park off Banksville Rd. He/she? was just sitting on a tree branch for over a half hour so I had a chance to use my binoculars. I am a novice, but looking at him he had some yellow to his beak and feet and his head and markings look exactly like Cornell ID. Took photos but they’re pretty blurry.

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