Peregrine Update, Southwest PA, 23 Feb 2023

Ecco and Morela bow in courtship, 21 Feb 2023 (screenshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

23 February 2023

Peregrine falcons in southwestern PA are preparing for the nesting season by conspicuously claiming territory and courting mates. Here’s a roundup of recent peregrine news plus a regional map of known sites. Notice the dates. If you want to see a peregrine falcon, now is the time to do it!

Peregrine locations in Southwestern PA (annotated by Kate St. John)

This eBird map of recent sightings shows that peregrine locations are skewed north of the City of Pittsburgh. There may be peregrines south of Pittsburgh but we need observers along the Monongahela River.

eBird map of peregrine sightings in southwestern PA, Jan-Feb 2023, screenshot of map

Cathedral of Learning, Univ of Pittsburgh:

Where to look on the Cathedral of Learning, from Forbes Ave side (photo by Kate St. John)

Morela and Ecco have been staying close to home at the Cathedral of Learning and visiting their nestbox every day. The easiest way to see them is “live” on the National Aviary falconcam, video below.

If they’re not on the falconcam check all the perches at the top of the building (area highlighted above). Peregrines somehow manage to match the building so you’ll need binoculars.

Last year Morela laid her first egg on 18 March. When will her first egg appear this year?

Downtown Pittsburgh:

Will the peregrines use this location in 2023? (photo by Kate St. John)

Montgomery Brown reports the Downtown peregrines in eBird from a vantage point at One Oxford Center, most recently on 8 Feb. Have peregrines shown up at the 3rd Avenue nest site yet (photo above)? More observers needed!

UPDATE on 24 Feb 2023: Jeff Cieslak photographed a peregrine perched at the 3rd Avenue nest ledge as seen from Mt. Washington.

Peregrine at the 3rd Ave nest ledge, 24 Feb 2023 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

p.s. Are any peregrines at the Gulf Tower? No. Peregrines have not used the Gulf Tower site since 2017. Observers in the building will let us know if the peregrines show up.

Monaca RR Bridge, Ohio River:

Peregrines at Monaca RR Bridge, 9 Jan 2023 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Dante Zuccaro reports one or two peregrines almost every day at the Monaca Railroad Bridge as seen from the mouth of the Beaver River. Check the bridge closely. This pair is very reliable but hard to see. Jeff Cieslak’s photo is from 9 January.

Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge, Ohio River:

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

This winter Mark Vass periodically has seen one or two peregrines at the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge, most recently on 20 February. In five years a nest has never been confirmed.

Sewickley Bridge, Ohio River:

Peregrine on the Sewickley Bridge, 9 Jan 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

On an errand in Sewickley yesterday I saw one peregrine atop the Sewickley Bridge. A pair was seen as recently as 11 February. Keep an eye on the Sewickley Bridge in case the peregrines decide to nest there.

Eckert Street near McKees Rocks Bridge, Ohio River:

Peregrine flies by the power tower near Alcosan, 9 Jan 2023 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

While on Ohio River Boulevard yesterday I saw a peregrine perched on the power tower near Alcosan thanks to the McKees Rocks Bridge stoplight. The tower is a favorite hangout of the Eckert Street Bridge peregrines who raised four young last spring.

Jeff Cieslak often visits the Eckert Street territory and provides this map of places to see the peregrines. His “Ohio River Boulevard” arrow points to Eckert Street.

Map of McKees Rocks Bridge area including power tower (screenshot from Google maps markup by Jeff Cieslak )

Westinghouse Bridge, Turtle Creek:

Peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 18 Feb 2023 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

The Westinghouse Bridge peregrines have become more visible as they ramp up to the nesting season. Dana Nesiti stops by to see them when he gets a break from photographing the Hays bald eagles. This pair is easy to see before the female lays eggs in mid to late March.

Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny River:

Peregrine at the Tarentum Bridge, 7 Feb 2023 (photo by Dave Brooke)

The Tarentum Bridge peregrines are very conspicuous lately and seen by many observers. In Dave Brooke’s photo above, the female is perched on the navigation lightpole with a full crop.

Graff Bridge, Rt 422, Kittanning, Allegheny River:

Under the Graff Bridge as seen from the Armstrong Trail, 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

This winter Theo Rickert has been checking the Graff Bridge near Kittanning with good success and reported two peregrines on site on 19 February. This nest site is probably used every year but sometimes no one notices. Thank you, Theo!

No recent news: There’s been no news since last year from three sites.

Clairton Coke Works: This nest produced three young last year but it cannot be seen outside the premises. We await news from USS employees at Clairton Coke Works.

62nd Street Bridge / Highland Park Bridge / Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Allegheny River: There are 3 bridges to check in close proximity, any one of which might have a peregrine family. Take a look and tell me if you find a peregrine.

62nd Street and Highland Park bridges as seen from underneath Aspinwall RR bridge (photo by Kate St. John)

Speers Railroad Bridge, Washington County, Monongahela River: No news from this site for over a year. Observers needed!

Additional bridges to watch: Peregrines love to perch on top of bridges. Check these out!

  • West End Bridge, Ohio River.
  • Bridges at Downtown Pittsburgh over the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers including Roberto Clemente (6th), Andy Warhol (7th), Rachel Carson (9th), Smithfield Street
  • 40th Street Bridge, Allegheny River
  • Glenwood Bridge, Monongahela River

Check out any site and tell me what you see. Need directions? Leave a comment.

(photos by Kate St. John, National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh, Jeff Cieslak, Dana Nesiti, Dave Brooke)

5 thoughts on “Peregrine Update, Southwest PA, 23 Feb 2023

  1. Not on the Highland Park Bridge itself, but I did see (last month) a single peregrine perched atop a tree above Route 28 just before exit 7 heading toward Fox Chapel (right by the Waterworks).

    In related news, Cooper’s Hawks are really prominent in my area of Friendship/Bloomfield of late. There’s one adult and one immature I’ve spotted, so I have to think there’s a nest somewhere nearby…?

  2. Thanks, Kate to you and the team of fellow birders for tidying up the scrape and cleaning and repositioning the camera at the Pitt nesting site. It’s nice that the peregrines can return to a clean site. Just wondering if they would continue to nest if the scrape was dirty and contained all that remained from last year’s mating season? Looking forward to another successful year.

    1. Michael, peregrines do reuse their nests in the wild if the nest has been successful — and will certainly do so without “housekeeping” service.

  3. Left a comment earlier today re: peregrine observed near intersection of Norman and Pleasant Hills Blvd 15236. The falcon flew around calling for about an hour and a half. I then observed one (silent) stop a telephone pole at intersection of Pleasant Hills Blvd and Lebanon Church Road. The male, still calling, perched on the telephone pole facing the female (I assume) and quite vocal. She flew away. I did get two snapshots with my cellphone (very poor quality) but posted them on Instagram anyway. I have also seen a number of species behind the Heritage Hills Townhomes off Old Clairton Rd in the past. It appears to be a migratory flight path.

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