Who’s On the Pitt Peregrine Nest?

1 April 2024

Carla and Ecco have completed nearly two weeks of incubation at the Pitt peregrine nest and have three more to go. As we watch them on the National Aviary falconcam it can be difficult to tell who’s on camera because their appearance is similar. Here are some tips for figuring out which bird is on the nest right now.

Nighttime incubation? It’s Carla except

Carla incubating at night, 27 March 2024, 10:58pm

Ecco sometimes brings food before dawn so you may see him on the nest in the early morning while Carla eats.

Ecco on the nest before dawn, 29 March 2024, 7:15am

Whenever you’re in doubt, use these tips.

Size: Carla is larger

Male peregrines are one-third smaller than females so size is the obvious way to tell the difference between the Pitt peregrines (see slideshow at top). However, Carla is not an enormous female and at close quarters on the falconcam with her back turned I have a hard time identifying her by size. The difference is obvious in this slideshow but not when Carla is alone on camera.

Plumage: Carla is Scalloped, Ecco is Striped

This spring in fresh breeding plumage Carla’s feathers have white tips that make her appearance look scalloped. Ecco’s feathers do not have long white tips so he looks vertically striped with fine black lines. Note that this difference works right now but feathers are dynamic and will not look the same in a few months.

Quiz! Test your skills

Practice recognizing size and plumage differences in this short video that compresses 60 hours into 1:41 minutes. At this speed the size differences between Carla and Ecco are obvious but you’ll have to look at one spot on the screen to notice plumage. Stare at one place and think “Scalloped or Striped?”

Pitt peregrine nest 60 hours of incubation compressed to 1:41 minutes, March 28-30 (video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Do you have a favorite method for telling Carla and Ecco apart? Post your tip in the comments.

Meanwhile get more practice at the National Aviary Falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

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

3 thoughts on “Who’s On the Pitt Peregrine Nest?

    1. Adam, I noticed the orange color too but on this gray morning I didn’t see it. Thanks for reminding me.

  1. Of course! I also have noticed that Carla’s head shape is a bit more square or boxy in comparison. Not always easy to notice, but she’s got more of a flat top going on than Ecco.

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