Remembering A Falcon Sweep

Dorothy bathing at Duck Hollow during the 2013 Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count (photo by Michelle Kienholz, 28 Dec 2013)

26 December 2020

The success of a Christmas Bird Count really depends on the weather. If the weather is good the birds are active and easy to find. In bad weather — heavy rain, snow, fog, high winds — birds are scarce.

Today is the Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in the circle shown below. At 8am it’s 14 degrees F with gusty winds, overcast skies and light snow showers. It feels like 2 degrees F. What birds will I find in my city neighborhood under these conditions? Not many I fear.

Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count circle (map from

Seven years ago the 2013 Pittsburgh CBC had a Falcon Sweep at a single location. In one half hour there was a peregrine falcon (Dorothy), a merlin, and an American kestrel at Duck Hollow — all the possible Falco species — described in this 2013 article: Take Me To The River.

Merlin bathing in the Mon River, 28 Dec 2013 (photo by Michelle Kienholz)

Today if I’m lucky in bad weather I’ll see a peregrine at the Cathedral of Learning and a merlin at dusk in Schenley Park. It would be a miracle if I saw a kestrel.

For old times sake, here’s a kestrel in June 2016 at an unusual city location.

American kestrel at the Gulf Tower peregrine nest on 9 June 2016 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

More news later. Brrrr!

(photos by Michelle Kienholz and the National Aviary falconcam that used to be at Gulf Tower)

4 thoughts on “Remembering A Falcon Sweep

  1. I hope you are having a good holiday season and I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year! Thank you for your wonderful blog! I am wondering where exactly in Schenley Park to look for the merlin that has been sighted lately? Good luck with your Christmas bird count today. At least it will be somewhat warmer this p.m.

    1. The merlin(s) perch on dead pine trees on Schenley Park golf course at sunset, seen from Schenley Drive between the clubhouse building & Tech St

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