Downtown Peregrines Embroiled in Peyton Place

Dori near the Third Ave nest, 24 April 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

15 May 2022

This year Dori, the resident female peregrine in Downtown Pittsburgh, is 16 years old — quite elderly for a wild peregrine falcon. Nonetheless, on 17 April I confirmed incubation at her nest when I spotted a peregrine inside the Third Avenue nest site.

Peregrine incubating at Third Avenue nest, Downtown Pittsburgh, 17 April 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

A week later I confirmed that this bird is Dori when I found her perched on Third Avenue on 24 April and read her bands through my scope (Black/green M/93). Unfortunately she obscured half the numbers just before I snapped this photo.

Dori revealed her bands but not in this photo, 24 April 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Why was Dori off the nest? Was Terzo incubating while I was there (unseen in the nest)? Or was Terzo not helping at all, similar to his behavior with Morela in 2020?

I got a hint when Steve Mortimer emailed me on 26 April.

Yesterday [25 April 2022], at about noon, I had the windows open. I live in the former Alcoa building in the corner closest to the William Penn Hotel. I kept hearing a bird chirping. It seemed right outside my window. After scanning for a bit I noticed the peregrine on the box gutter of the William Penn Hotel. That wasn’t the caliber of bird I expected from that noise. … This happened over and over again until around 5:30 PM when I spotted a new falcon. Perched higher up on the building. Smaller, sleeker, much more elegant looking. … My noisy neighbor continued in her spot. … She was still there when it was very dark and there was just enough light to barely make her out. I could hear her in the morning through the windows … she took off around 9:30 AM. Moments later I noticed a bird soaring around in the distance. Then two. Then one again. Then none. She hasn’t returned since.

— email from Steve Mortimer, 26 April 2022

The unbanded female Steve photographed is bowing to another peregrine. Who?

Unbanded female peregrine chirps and bows on ledge of Omni William Penn Hotel, 25 April 2022 (pht)

Steve did not see a second peregrine (male) until much later and only from a distance, labeled “Newcomer” in his diagram.

Noisy peregrine and (male) “Newcomer” locations on 25 April 2022 (photo and diagram by Steve Mortimer)

Two weeks passed with no news.

Then on 11 May, Amanda Linn tweeted (@amandolin_) about two peregrines outside her window at BNY Mellon. An unbanded female …

New unbanded female perched at BNY Mellon, Downtown Pittsburgh, 11 May 2022 (photo by Amanda Linn)

… and a banded male. He’s Terzo, the resident male in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Terzo perched at BNY Mellon, 11 May 2022 (photo by Amanda Linn)

Here’s a closeup of his bands.

Just like humans, peregrines can see when another of their species is not in tiptop shape. Both Terzo and the unbanded female know that Dori is elderly and, as we know from Dorothy at Pitt in 2015, elderly female peregrines can lay eggs but few are viable and any chicks that hatch have disabilities.

Terzo seems to have changed loyalties. The new female is waiting in the wings. The Downtown peregrines are embroiled in Peyton Place.

(photos by Kate St. John, Steve Mortimer and Amanda Linn @amandolin_)

5 thoughts on “Downtown Peregrines Embroiled in Peyton Place

  1. It’s always something with our beloved Pittsburgh peregrines! I’m sorry that Dori is coming to the end, but it’s wonderful that the peregrine population has recovered enough to provide competition and increase the chances of successful reproduction. This doesn’t sound too encouraging for downtown fledging this year, but I guess we can keep our fingers crossed.

  2. In the “chirps and bows on ledge” photo, just behind the bird it looks like someone left a tool (large clamp) on the walkway. Wonder how long they have been looking for that?

  3. Sad to read but not surprising, given Dori’s age. I’ll miss her. Thanks for the update, Kate.

    Have you heard any more about the possibility of banding the Cathedral’s chicks?

  4. Just like Pitt- better than the Young and the Restless. But in the bird world is is more likely the Young and the Rest of Us.

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