Peregrine Update, Southwest PA, 25 March

Morela and Ecco are up there, Cathedral of Learning 2021 (photo by Kate St. John)

25 March 2021:

Peregrine falcons in southwestern Pennsylvania are very active in the month of March so this is the perfect time for a regional update before the birds “disappear” during incubation.

This year we are watching — or not watching — 11 sites.

  1. Pittsburgh: Cathedral of Learning, Allegheny County
  2. Pittsburgh: Downtown, Allegheny County
  3. Monongahela Watershed: Westinghouse Bridge, Allegheny County
  4. Monongahela River: Speers Railroad Bridge, Washington County
  5. Ohio River: McKees Rocks Bridge, Allegheny County, NO NEWS
  6. Ohio River: Neville Island Bridge, NO PEREGRINES DUE TO CONSTRUCTION
  7. Ohio River: Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge, Beaver County
  8. Ohio River: Monaca Railroad Bridge, Beaver County
  9. Allegheny River: 62nd Street to Aspinwall Railroad Bridge, NO PEREGRINES NOW
  10. Allegheny River: Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny & Westmoreland Counties
  11. Allegheny River: Rt 422 Graff Bridge Kittanning, Armstrong County

Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh:

Morela with 4 eggs, 24 March 2021 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Unit of Pittsburgh)

Morela laid her fourth egg yesterday at 3:38pm (real time, 3:42pm camera time). As you can see from the 24 March timelapse video, she and Ecco rarely step away from the eggs. Morela stood up at 3:38pm to lay the fourth egg then settled down again as soon as it dried.

Hatch day is expected sometime between April 20-25. We don’t have any history with Morela but I do have history with Dorothy so my guess is April 24-25. Click here for details on my calculation.

Watch Morela and Ecco “live” on the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

Downtown Pittsburgh:

Peregrine in the Third Avenue nook, 20 March 2021 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Best viewing of the Third Avenue nest site is from Grandview Avenue on Mt Washington next to the Monongahela Incline. On 20 March Jeff photographed a peregrine perched inside the nook. At that point it appeared they were choosing this location, not Gulf Tower.

Yesterday afternoon, 24 March, I confirmed nesting. When I set up my scope I immediately saw a peregrine in the back left corner standing in the about-to-lay-an-egg posture. As I waited and watched she laid at egg at 3:23pm, paused, raised her foot, then carefully stepped around it and stood waiting for it to dry. Dori laid her egg just 15 minutes before Morela laid hers.

Jeff Cieslaks’ photo insets from Tuesday at 5:43p show an incubating peregrine where the egg was laid … so maybe I saw Dori laying her last egg.

Third Avenue, incubating peregrine, 23 March 2021, 5:43pm (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Monongahela Watershed: Westinghouse Bridge

Peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 21 March 2021 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Dana Nesiti photographed the Westinghouse Bridge peregrines mating on 21 March 2021. They are certainly planning to nest!

  • Male peregrine flies toward female, Westinghouse Bridge, 21 March 2021 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Monongahela River, Speers Railroad Bridge:

Peregrine pair at Speers Railroad Bridge, 21 February 2021 (photo by Joe Ciferno)

The Speers Railroad Bridge peregrines have been identified thanks to photos by Joe Ciferno and Dana Nesiti. Both birds are banded:

  • Female – 07/BS Black/Green, banded on 5/18/2017 on the Commodore Barry bridge over the Delaware river in Chester, Delaware County, PA.
  • Male – 68/AC Black/Green, banded on 5/23/2012 at the Cathedral of Learning University of Pittsburgh Allegheny County, PA.

Ohio River, McKees Rocks Bridge: No news. Observers needed!

Ohio River, Neville Island I-79 Bridge: No peregrines due to construction. The underside of the bridge is completely covered. No nest access.

Ohio River, Ambridge Bridge: Peregrines are present throughout the year. Karen Lang has recently seen a single bird, apparently the male, perched on the bridge — Sunday 22 March at 4pm and Wednesday 24 March at noon. Perhaps this pair is incubating.

Ohio River, Monaca Railroad Bridge:

Peregrine on the Monaca Railroad Bridge, 21 March 2021 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Jeff Cieslak was in Monaca on 21 March and photographed the peregrines perching and flying around the superstructure. Sometimes they are hard to see.

Peregrine at Monaca Railroad Bridge, 21 March 2021 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Allegheny River, 62nd Street Bridge to Aspinwall Railroad Bridge: No peregrines. One was present in January and February but no sightings since then.

Allegheny River, Tarentum Bridge:

Peregrine incubating, Tarentum Bridge nestbox, 16 March 2021 (photo by Dave Brooke)

Dave Brooke’s 16 March photo shows a peregrine very low in the nestbox. (Can you see her?) It appears this pair is already incubating.

Allegheny River, Rt 422 Graff Bridge, Kittanning:

Kittanning Bridge, May 2018 (photo by Kate St. John)

On 14 March I walked under the Graff Bridge at Manorville and immediately saw a peregrine perched on the upriver side. Peregrines are present. Are they nesting?

Observers needed! Visit these sites and tell me what you see.

(photos by Kate St. John, National Aviary falconcam at Cathedral of Learning, Jeff Cieslak, Dana Nesiti, Joe Ciferno, Dave Brooke)

5 thoughts on “Peregrine Update, Southwest PA, 25 March

  1. Last time I saw pefa at Neville Island was Feb 14. Eating in the dead tree then took off chasing an immature bald eagle that was flying by.

  2. Kate, there is a young man/birder who lives behind Manorville and feels the Graff pair may have moved their nest closer to this end of the bridge…he has a photo of one chasing a Bald Eagle and also a photo of the pair on ice this winter close to the trail…I’ve seen one on the electric tower by the trail, so hoping its closer…

  3. The male born at Pitt in 2012 would be Dorothy and E2’s, right? It’s great to know that lineage is carrying on.

  4. We were excited to spot a peregrine flying across Chartiers Creek at the Thornburg Bridge. I had spotted them in previous years in this area, Kate but you were doubtful. This was a clear, low- flying sighting at 5:00 pm April 2. Very easy to identify. 100% certain.

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