14 May 2023
Two weeks ago I wrote that there would be no peregrine eggs this year at the Cathedral of Learning because Morela was unable to lay any. She crouched and strained but appeared to be egg bound.
Since then Morela has had days when she looks very ill, then seems to recover a little, then looks ill again. Though she stopped standing over the scrape as shown above, she has not returned to her formerly energetic self. Her bleary eyes indicate she feels unwell.
Ecco knows that she is ill.
He does what he can by bringing her food which he prepares more carefully than usual, as if he’s making it easy to eat. Unfortunately it is not enough.
On the morning of 7 May Morela felt bad enough that she left the nest for 36 hours. That day I found her facing the wall in the 38th floor southeast cache area.
She returned to the nest at 5:34pm on 8 May and seemed slightly better but in the next few days her health declined. In this snapshot she is leaning to the side, something she never did when healthy.
During a difficult night on May 11-12 Morela leaned a lot and may have lost her balance a couple of times. On Friday 12 May at 5:51am she left the nest and has not been seen since.
Her long absence and ill health indicate we probably won’t see her again.
Life goes on in the peregrine world. If Morela is gone a new female will come to the Cathedral of Learning to be Ecco’s mate. This year it’s too late to raise a family but if all goes well there will be peregrine chicks next year.
Hoping for happier times ahead.
UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long! A new, banded FEMALE peregrine came to the nestbox on 14 May at 2:27 PM.
Here she is at the nest this afternoon. I thought this was Morela but when I looked at the image I can see that SHE’S BANDED! (Morela was unbanded.)
(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
23 thoughts on “Update on Morela at the Pitt Peregrine Nest”
Ah, sad news on Mother’s Day. She was a beautiful bird.
Thank you for the difficult update Kate. It’s been great being an insider in the lives of these majestic birds. Eventually we all lean- the circle of life.
From Kate’s post, through the heartfelt comments. I feel connected to you all.
So sorry to hear this. Fly free beautiful Morela
So sad to read this. I’m so sorry..
Very difficult to read but I appreciate the update. Nature can be cruel, but it is what it is.
Interestingly, there was a bird on the green perch this morning. I think it was Morela but I have difficulty telling them apart unless I can see the color of the chest. The bird did some flapping and appeared to have difficulty balancing on the perch. The eyes looked clear, not at all the way they’ve looked on Morela lately. Not sure how long it had been there as it was on camera when I checked this morning. After a short time, it flew off.
Pa Gal, I hope you’re right!
It appears that Morela is dead in the nest box. So very sad.
KATE ST JOHN RESPONDS TO THIS COMMENT: No, Ecco is not dead. He is just sunbathing.
Some movement again but not looking good.
KATE ST. JOHN RESPONDS: It is Ecco and he is sunbathing.
The spread wings mean the bird is sunbathing. The bird at 12:30pm is Ecco.
Kate, I am so, so sorry. As the other’s have said, “Thank you for this difficult update”.
Somebody’s in the nest right now (12:45 on the site’s clock). It looks kind of big so may be Morela? Back is to the camera, panting in the heat.
YES! At 2:00pm it is a female but not Morela. This female is banded!
Ecco was at the nest sunbathing for an hour, then a female arrived at 2pm & she, too, is sunbathing. (A snapshot shows she’s banded)
Hi Kate, is this Morela sunbathing? She looks more alert
Yes, a female sunbathing at the nest at 2pm but this one is banded. Morela was unbanded.
So sorry to hear this about Morela.
Amazingly, there is already a new female at the nest. Apparently peregrines don’t spend much time mourning.
Sad news to hear about Morela. Hopefully we can find out where the banded female came from.
Always sad to loose any of or feathered, furry or scaly friends.
Part of The Great Circle of Life.
Morela was beautiful, a good mother, and I’m going to miss her.
I am so heartbroken by this news. Is it possible the stress of a possible intruder caused Morela to become egg bound? Is that what is believed the be the source of her health decline?
Seeing Ecco feed her is just gut wrenching- I am guessing there is not any kind of protocol to intervene in this kind of situation since it is part of nature and the birds aren’t endangered anymore.
What is the likelyhood if she has passed, her body would be found and reported? Hate to think she was in pain for her last weeks.
KATE ST. JOHN RESPONDS IN THE COMMENT BELOW.
Melanie, your comment is similar to one I received on Tuesday. Since you are the second person to ask I will address the questions here.
1. “Was she egg bound?”
Morela’s behavior *resembled* the behavior of a bird that is egg bound but we do not know for sure what was ailing her.
2. “Did the stress of an intruder cause the illness?”
Was there an intruder? My guess is that there was an intruder because, again, Morela’s behavior resembled the typical response to an intruder. However we never saw an intruder, only Morela’s behavior, so we don’t know for sure. Yes, the timing is consecutive, first one thing then the other, but we don’t know if the two incidents are related.
3. “I am guessing there is not any kind of protocol to intervene since it is part of nature and the birds aren’t endangered anymore.”
Correct on both counts. Peregrines are wild birds under the jurisdiction of the PA Game Commission. PGC’s policy is to let nature take its course.
4. “What is the likelihood if she has passed, her body would be found and reported?”
Very unlikely. Even if a body was found, there is no way to know if it was Morela because she was not banded.
5. “I am so heartbroken … Seeing Ecco feed her is just gut wrenching … Hate to think she was in pain for her last weeks.”
With all due respect, please turn off the falconcam if it is unpleasant or gut-wrenching for you to watch. Personally I turned off the cam during the period when Hope killed and ate her chicks (2016 through 2019). Nature can be dramatic but it is not always comforting.