Morela Is Distracted Again

The empty nest at the Cathedral of Learning, 4 April 2023 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

5 April 2023

Last month I had high hopes for eggs at the Pitt peregrine nest, but now I’m not so sure. Morela is distracted again.

The season started well as Ecco and Morela courted at the nest several times a day during 12-14 March. They toned it down to once a day on 15-18 March but I didn’t notice because they were back to normal shortly thereafter. And then Morela disappeared on 21 March to chase off a challenger.

Four days later she returned to the nest and the pair courted frequently. I was optimistic we’d have an egg by 8 April but I was wrong. Things have been very strange since then.

Since Morela’s return on 25 March there have been days when Ecco and Morela courted more than once and other days when Ecco was the only one on camera. The one constant — until last night — was that Morela hung out at the nest for half the night.

This timelapse video from 3 April at 8:00pm to 5 April at 7:00am shows the change in behavior. It starts with Morela perched at the nest two nights ago, during the full moon of 3-4 April. Just before dawn on 4 April Ecco appears briefly. He’s the only one on camera all day yesterday and, surprisingly, the only one on camera last night!

Timelapse at Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest, 3 April 8pm through 5 April 7am (video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Morela may have been nearby, though. This snapshot at 4:50am shows her tail at top left while Ecco is on the green perch.

Morela on roof, Ecco on perch, 5 April 2023, 5:08am (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Meanwhile, an observation from Betty Rowland at 10:30am yesterday might give a hint to what’s happening. As she was waiting for the red light at Bellefield and Fifth Ave she saw a peregrine burst out of a nearby tree(!) and fly over Fifth Avenue to the roof of Webster Hall where another falcon was perched. Was this Ecco flying up to mate with Morela? If it happened at exactly 10:30am Ecco was at the nest, not in flight. Was it the challenger and Morela?

I don’t know what’s going on and cannot predict what will happen next except for this: I doubt we’ll see an egg at the Cathedral of Learning this weekend.

p.s. Mary Ann Pike remarked yesterday that it looked as if Ecco was calling at 3:50pm. I found the incident and can see that he was trying to cast a pellet.

Ecco casting a pellet, 4 April 2023, 3:50pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

(photos and video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

2 thoughts on “Morela Is Distracted Again

  1. What is going on in the nest right now? 8:57 AM Pacific time. Is it hot there? Lots of panting and pancaking.

    1. It is HOT here! Low humidity, no breeze and 82ºF! Ecco has been sunbathing in the afternoon for a couple of days ow. Tomorrow will be hot too, then rain after sunset on Sat and cooler temps for the Mon & Tues next week.

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