In a study reported widely last month, animal cognition scientists at the Max Planck Institute discovered that African gray parrots will share with each other even when the sharing individual knows it will get no reward.
According to the USA National Phenology Network, Spring is three weeks ahead of schedule in the southeastern US:
Spring leaf out has arrived in the Southeast, over three weeks earlier than a long-term average (1981-2010) in some locations. Charlottesville, VA is 24 days early, Knoxville, TN is 20 days early, and Nashville, TN is 18 days early.
Happy news on Valentine’s Day! Last evening the Audubon Society of Western PA (ASWP) announced:
[Pittsburgh, PA, February 13, 2020] – Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania confirms an egg in the Hays, PA Bald Eagle nest. The egg, laid at 6:30 pm this evening, is visible in the nest on the eagle cam when the incubating adult stands up: http://aswp.org/pages/hays-nest. There is typically a 2-3 day span in between eggs being laid in a Bald Eagle nest. In 2019, the Hays Bald Eagles laid three eggs; two hatched and the juveniles successfully fledged the nest.
In the run up to egg laying, peregrine falcons perch prominently and perform stunning aerial courtship displays. February and March are the best months for confirming peregrine nest sites and discovering new ones. In southwestern Pennsylvania we need observers to look for peregrines. I hope you can help.
In 2019 we found 10 peregrine pairs in the Pittsburgh region. Two on buildings (red dots at Cathedral of Learning and Downtown Pittsburgh) and eight on bridges (blue dots).
Two of the bridges, Ambridge and 62nd Street, were not(*) confirmed even though adult peregrines are regularly seen there. Nesting can’t be confirmed until someone sees a peregrine take food to a nest or a nestling/juvenile in or near a nest.
There are 10+ Peregrine Sites to watch in southwestern PA. Please leave a comment if you can help or if you’ve seen anything. (Confirmed nest sites in prior years are marked with #.)
Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh #: This nest is on camera so we’ll easily confirm it this year.
Downtown Pittsburgh #: We know there’s a peregrine pair Downtown but we don’t know who they are (Louie died last summer) and we don’t know where they’ll nest. Lori Maggio is Downtown’s lead observer but the area is a big place to monitor. Help wanted!
OHIO RIVER, Monaca-Beaver Railroad Bridge -or- Monaca-East Rochester Bridge # Peregrines choose one of these bridges to nest on each year — it’s all the same territory. A pair was seen on the railroad bridge in November. Observers needed!
OHIO RIVER, Ambridge Bridge: This site hasn’t been confirmed as a nesting site though peregrines are seen here often. Mark Vass saw one on 8 Feb 2020, Karen Lang saw two on 9 Feb and one on 10 Feb & 11. More observers needed!
OHIO RIVER, Neville Island I-79 Bridge #: In use as a nest site since 2012, Jeff Cieslak photographed a peregrine on the bridge on 4 February 2020.
OHIO RIVER, McKees Rocks Bridge#: Even though this bridge has been a nest site since 2008 it’s hard to monitor because it’s 1.38 miles long. Peregrines are best seen from the McKees Rocks side. I haven’t heard of any sightings yet.
ALLEGHENY RIVER, Graff Bridge, Rt 422, Kittanning#: In use by peregrines since 2016, this bridge is best monitored from the bike trail under on the Kittanning side. I haven’t heard of any recent sightings.
ALLEGHENY RIVER, Freeport Bridge: Peregrines haven’t been known to nest here but one was seen during the winter. Is this a new nest site? Observers needed.
ALLEGHENY RIVER, Tarentum Bridge#: The Tarentum Bridge, which has a nestbox, has been in use since 2010. Dave Brooke photographed a peregrine here on 30 Jan 2020.
ALLEGHENY RIVER, Highland Park and 40th Street Bridges: These bridges may be too close to existing territories … or are they? Are peregrines hanging out at these bridges? Observers needed!
ALLEGHENY RIVER, 62nd Street Bridge: There’s been a nestbox on this bridge since 2007 but no peregrines on site until 2019 when a banded female was identified and a fledgling seen at Tree Pittsburgh near the bridge. I hear it’s easy to see the nest box from the Pittsburgh downriver side. Be the first to confirm nesting at this site!
MONONGAHELA RIVER WATERSHED, Westinghouse Bridge over Turtle Creek#: Peregrines have used this bridge since 2010. Dana Nesiti photographed one here on 9 Feb 2020.
Look for peregrines in February and March. We need your help to re-confirm every site.
Please leave a comment if you can help, if you need directions, or if you’ve seen anything. Thanks!
Clean your feeders: Bird feeders accumulate mold and bacteria, including Salmonella. Clean them every two to four weeks by emptying and soaking for 10 minutes in a weak solution of 10% bleach (1 part bleach, 9 parts water) described at The Spruce: Bird Feeder Cleaning Tips.
Keep your cat indoors.
Provide shelter (described above).
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman, video tweet from @RLJSlick)
Perhaps you’ve noticed that earthworms come out on the sidewalks when it rains. They rise to the surface in damp soil when they hear the pattering of rain above them. Gulls and wood turtles take advantage of this by tapping on damp ground to lure worms to be eaten.