About To Fly At Third Avenue

4 June 2023

Peregrine falcons have nested in Downtown Pittsburgh since 1991 and though the players have changed they are very loyal to the territory. From 1991-2011 they nested at the Gulf Tower but since 2012, with three exceptions, they have nested at the back of a building facing Third Avenue. 2023 is their ninth nesting season at this site.

Yesterday morning I stopped by Third Avenue to see if any peregrines were visible and was lucky to see the entire family. Three youngsters perched at the ledge opening (photos at top) while their parents watched from above on the crossbars. The brown youngsters are exercising their wings and will fledge this week.

Downtown peregrine nest area as seen from Third Ave. Locations of birds noted in white. 3 June 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

The adults have been a mystery. On 3 March Jeff Cieslak photographed an adult-plumaged pair: an unbanded female (not 16-year-old Dori who was banded) and a male who did not show his legs. When Jeff returned on 14 April he saw a nest exchange that appeared to be a male (unbanded in dark brown immature plumage) bringing prey to a female (banded & in adult plumage). The behavior told us who was who. Or did it?

Here are photos of the adults.

Adult-plumage bird on 18 May and 3 June 2023. Jeff re-checked his photos and saw that this bird has black/red bands and several viewers have remarked that the bird’s face is like Terzo’s. This is the male, Terzo.

Adult plumage peregrine at Third Avenue, 18 May 2023 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)
Adult plumage peregrine at Third Ave, 3 June 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

Photos of the dark brown bird on 28 May and 3 June 2023 are more of a mystery. The flank stripes are horizontal so this is adult plumage. This dark brown unbanded bird is the female. More on her color in a future article.

Dark plumaged peregrine at Third Avenue Downtown, 28 May 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)
Dark plumaged peregrine at Third Avenue Downtown, 3 June 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

Stop by Third Avenue in the next few days to see the youngsters fledge.

(photos by Kate St. John and Jeff Cieslak)

3 thoughts on “About To Fly At Third Avenue

  1. Hi Kate! Are you able to share where this building is on Third Ave? I’m a novice bird watcher and I’ve never seen a peregrine falcon before, but would really like to. Thanks so much!

    1. Lindsay, the birds were seen from this spot on Saturday (40.4385068,-80.0005585), 353 Third Ave, however a friend visited on Sunday and all 3 have flown. I emailed you with other choices. Reply to that email if you’d like to see peregrines at another site.

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