Peregrine Update, July 2021

Juvenile peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 26 June 2021 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

6 July 2021, updated 22 July

By mid-July all the peregrine nests in southwestern Pennsylvania will have either fledged or failed. Of the 11 sites we track in the region we know that 7 were successful, 2 had no evidence of nesting, and 2 had no observers during the critical nesting period (therefore no news). Here’s a summary updated on 22 July 2021.

  1. Pittsburgh: Cathedral of Learning, Allegheny County — SUCCESS
  2. Pittsburgh: Downtown, Allegheny County — SUCCESS
  3. Monongahela Watershed: Westinghouse Bridge, Allegheny County — SUCCESS
  4. Monongahela River: Speers Railroad Bridge, Washington County — NO NEWS
  5. Ohio River: McKees Rocks Bridge, Allegheny County — SUCCESS
  6. Ohio River: Neville Island I-79 Bridge, NO PEREGRINES DUE TO CONSTRUCTION
  7. Ohio River: Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge, Beaver County, PEREGRINES PRESENT, NO NEST
  8. Ohio River: Monaca RR or Monaca-East Rochester Bridge, Beaver County — SUCCESS
  9. Allegheny River: 62nd Street to Aspinwall Railroad Bridge — SUCCESS
  10. Allegheny River: Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny & Westmoreland Counties — SUCCESS
  11. Allegheny River: Rt 422 Graff Bridge Kittanning, Armstrong County — NO NEWS

Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh:

Adult peregrine on St. Paul’s Cathedral steeple, 1 July 2021 (photo by Kate St. John)
Juvie peregrine on Webster Hall antenna, 1 July 2021 (photo by Kate St. John)

Most recent news: 5 July 2021.

Four young peregrines fledged from the Cathedral of Learning during 4 to 11 June. Their parents remain at Pitt after the “kids” have left, but the young have not gone far yet. Individually they circle back to see if their parents will feed them. The answer in July is no.

On 1 July I saw an adult perched on St. Paul Cathedral’s steeple watching a juvie on Webster Hall antenna (photos above).

On 2 & 3 July a youngster with pale head markings visited the nest, perhaps hoping for a handout. Ecco had been standing in the shadows but left quickly. (Slideshow below.)

On 5 July a juvie flew by outside my window. Peregrines are my Yard Bird.

Downtown Pittsburgh:

Juvenile peregrine on the Rescue Porch, Downtown Pittsburgh, 15 June 2021 (photo by Maria Ochoa)

Most recent news: 15 June 2021.

When young peregrines fledge from the Third Avenue nest they often have to be rescued from the ground and placed on the Rescue Porch to start over. We presume all three youngsters fledged this year, probably by 17 June, but we know of only one rescue. Maria Ochoa photographed him as he lingered on the rescue porch 12 to 15 June. No news is good news at this site.

Juvenile peregrine on the Rescue Porch, Downtown Pittsburgh, 15 June 2021 (photo by Maria Ochoa)

Monongahela Watershed: Westinghouse Bridge:

  • Westinghouse Bridge, 26 June 2021 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Most recent news: 4 July 2021.

Dana Nesiti has visited the Westinghouse Bridge often in the past month and brought back some great photographs with news of the two juveniles.

On 9 June a young peregrine walking on the Westinghouse Bridge (on the road!) was rescued by Game Warden Doug Bergman and checked for injuries at HAR Verona. The bird was healthy so Berman returned it to the bridge catwalk that same day.

Though both juveniles are present, it was two weeks before Dana saw them at the same time. On 26 June he found the entire family of four (slideshow above). Last weekend the parents were still supplying the youngsters’ food. The slideshow includes a photo from the Fourth of July.

Ohio River: McKees Rocks Bridge, Allegheny County:

McKees Rocks Bridge (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Most recent news: end of June 2021.

About a week ago Joe Fedor contacted Art McMorris with news that he had seen fledglings at the McKees Rocks Bridge. Though we don’t have photos, we do know the nest has been successful.

Ohio River, Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge:

Ambridge Bridge, 20 Feb 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

From Art McMorris on 13 July 2021: “At least one peregrine, and often a pair, has been seen at the Ambridge-Aliquippa bridge quite regularly throughout the nesting season. Most recently a single peregrine June 30 per an eBird report by Mark Vass. But no evidence of nesting or young.”

Ohio River, Monaca – East Rochester Bridge:

Agitated adult peregrine at Monaca-East Rochester Bridge, 19 June 2021 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Most recent news: 19 June 2021.

This year observers thought the peregrines would nest at the Monaca Railroad Bridge but the birds used their alternate site instead, the Monaca-East Rochester Bridge.

Monaca East Rochester Bridge, 2012(photo by PGC WCO Steve Leiendecker)
Monaca East Rochester Bridge, 2012 (photo by PGC WCO Steve Leiendecker)

After Mark Vass reported them in mid June, Jeff Cieslak stopped by with his camera.

Though I had seen the falcons courting on the Monaca RR bridge earlier in the year, it seems they nested on the Rt 51 bridge [Monaca-East Rochester Bridge]. This morning, there were two adults and two juveniles out and about. The adults seem to like the electrical tower just west of the bridge on the Monaca side, which you can see from the adjacent neighborhood. I would advise against walking across the bridge (even though there is a sidewalk), as the falcons seem to find pedestrians upsetting.(Hat tip to Mark Vass for spotting them in the area earlier in the week)

— Jeff Cieslak, Pittsburgh Falconuts on Facebook GROUP, 19 June 2021
Annoyed adult peregrine at Monaca-East Rochester Bridge, 19 June 2021 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)
Juvenile peregrine opens his wings, Monca-East Rochester Bridge, 19 June 2021 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)
Angry adult peregrine, Monaca-East Rochester Bridge, 19 June 2021 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)
Juvenile in flight, Monaca-East Rochester Bridge, 19 June 2021 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

By now the young are flying well, so it’s safe to walk across the bridge.

Allegheny River, 62nd Street Bridge:

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

Nesting had not been reported at the 62nd Street Bridge since 2019 though peregrines were seen occasionally this spring from 62nd Street to the Aspinwall railroad bridge.

On 19 July Marie left a comment that she and some friends had seen and heard two peregrines while kayaking under the 62nd Street Bridge on 18 July.

Adult peregrine at 62nd Street Bridge, 21 July 2021 (digiscoped by Kate St. John)

I visited the bridge on 21 July and found an unbanded adult peregrine perched and preening on the superstructure. The bird “kakked” at something on the Sharpsburg side of the bridge, clearly territorial.

When the peregrine flew off I packed up to leave, then saw and heard a juvenile peregrine chasing and begging from the adult. Success! Peregrines nested at the 62nd Street Bridge this year.

Allegheny River, Tarentum Bridge:

Adult female peregrine at Tarentum Bridge, 10 June 2021 (photo by Dave Brooke)

Most recent news: 10 June 2021.

Three youngsters at the Tarentum Bridge fledged six weeks ago, then one went missing after 26 May. By the week of 7 June the remaining two were flying well enough to leave the bridge when construction began. The last update came from Dave Brooke on 10 June when he found the adult female perched at the bridge.

Remaining sites:

We still have no news from the sites listed below. If you’ve heard anything, even if the news is a month old, please leave a message in the comments.

  • Monongahela River: Speers Railroad Bridge, Washington County
  • Allegheny River: Rt 422 Graff Bridge Kittanning, Armstrong County

(photos by Kate St. John, Maria Ochoa, Dana Nesiti, Jeff Cieslak, and Dave Brooke)

5 thoughts on “Peregrine Update, July 2021

  1. Kate, great news from Pittsburgh! Happy so many successes there. Any chance the Monaca adults were band identified this year? One of our Harrisburg females (from 2006) was nesting there but haven’t heard if it’s still her.

    1. Sue, I don’t think anyone has a photo of her bands this year. However, Jeff’s description of the adult’s behavior matches her personality.

  2. Hi Kate, My friends and I were kayaking on the Allegheny River yesterday (July 18) and saw 2 Peregrines at the 62nd Street Bridge. We also heard them. One of the people I was with is a proficient birder and he was certain that they were Peregrines. I couldn’t ID them as adults or juveniles, though.

    1. Marie, thanks for letting me know! They usually don’t make any noise so you may have heard one a young one begging. If they nested there they sure were sneaky!

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