22 July 2021
Until this week we thought that peregrines did not nest at the 62nd Street Bridge since 2019. This spring we saw them along the Allegheny River from 62nd Street to the Aspinwall railroad bridge, but not reliably.
Then on 19 July Marie posted this comment:
: 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. — Marie
Marie’s sighting set off a flurry of activity including news from Mike Smith who reported what he saw in late June:
Approx. 3 weeks ago, I watched 2 Peregrines fly east above Allegheny River Blvd from 62nd St. bridge toward Highland Park bridge and then turn back westward and pass my location again. They were wailing/ screaming the entire 1 1/2 minutes that I observed them. They appeared to be play/ harassing each other. I was working and didn’t have binos, so plumage coloration/ age was not determined…the constant wailing was unusual behavior from my experience.— email from Mike Smith, Tuesday 20 July 2021
Mike and I were both motivated to visit the bridge yesterday, 21 July 2021, to look for more peregrine activity. At noon Mike saw one peregrine flying upriver too far away to age. At 10am I got lucky.
Right off the bat I saw an adult peregrine perched and preening on the superstructure. I had my scope so I could see the bird was unbanded, had a very striped chest and a peachy breast with a few dots (not many), and was molting two central tail feathers that were visible when perched and in flight. She was probably female. I digiscoped a few poor quality pictures.
At one point she kakked at something on the north shore but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Her territorial warning told me that the 62nd Street Bridge is her nesting home, not just a place she visits on her travels.
After she flew off I was packing up my scope to leave when I saw and heard a juvenile peregrine chasing her and begging loudly. The juvie was the same size as the adult, so probably female too.
I watched the juvie soar upriver until it disappeared toward the Highland Park Bridge. Then I drove to Aspinwall Riverfront Park and discovered that you can see the 62nd Street Bridge from the Aspinwall Railroad Bridge.
At only 1.77 miles apart the 62nd Street Bridge and the Aspinwall RR bridge are in the same peregrine territory. Based on the adult’s behavior, she nested at the 62nd Street Bridge where there is a nestbox. Success!
Of the 11 peregrines sites in southwestern Pennsylvania, we now know they were successful at seven of them. The Rt 422 Graff Bridge in Kittanning is the last big mystery. Has anyone seen peregrines there?
UPDATE on 23 July: Jeff Cieslak saw 1 peregrine at Kittanning yesterday. Earlier this week a friend of Dana Nesiti sent a photo of 1 peregrine at the Speers RR Bridge.
(photos by Kate St. John)