Though Pennsylvania’s peregrine falcons don’t lay eggs until March, pairs court at their nests nearly every day in February. The ritual, called a “ledge display,” is hidden at most sites but is easy to see on the National Aviary’s falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.
This month Terzo and Morela have increased their ledge displays at the Cathedral of Learning. Their ritual follows the same pattern that all peregrines perform.
- The male (Terzo) arrives first, swaggering in a high stepping tip-toe gait on his way to the scrape. The “scrape” is the bowl they dig in the gravel where she will lay eggs.
- He bows and calls to his mate to join him.
- When the female (Morela) arrives, they bow low over the scrape and say “ee-chup, ee-chup,” bowing repeatedly. The male usually bows lower than the female. Notice that she is much larger than he is.
- As the female gets closer to egg laying, the ceremony lasts longer and becomes more intimate. They call softly, twist their heads to opposite sides, sometimes touch beaks.
- The male always leaves the nest first, then the female.
- As egg laying time approaches the female will linger to prepare the nest and dig the scrape.
You’ll see all these behaviors, though abbreviated, in yesterday’s three-minute visit at 12:55pm (17 February 2020).
We’re looking forward to eggs in March. Stay tuned at the National Aviary falconcam at the Univ. of Pittsburgh.
Here’s a tip on when to see Terzo and Morela on camera: For the past few days, 14-17 Feb 2020, they have visited the nest around 4:30pm or as late as 4:55pm. Will they show up at 4:30pm today for a ledge display? (I hope they cooperate!)
(screenshot and video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)