Beginning Sunday 8 July 2018 through Saturday 14 July 2018, I’ll be birding in Newfoundland and out of cellphone range during the day. I’ll still be posting daily articles at Outside My Window but I won’t be able to respond to your comments until I’m back on the grid in the evenings.
In Pittsburgh we’re lucky to have three bald eagle nests in Allegheny County: Hays on the Monongahela River, Harmar on the Allegheny River, and Crescent Township on the Ohio River.
Last weekend the two youngsters at the Harmar nest made their first flight. Annette and Gerry Devinney were on hand to record their progress on 1 July 2018. Here are some of Annette’s photos and Gerry’s video.
Below, the two young eagles fly near each other. They’re looking good.
Woo hoo! They’re playing in the sky.
Gerry captured their soaring and antics in this video.
Eight of us went birding in Schenley Park today and saw lots of cool bird behavior.
In the first fifteen minutes we saw an unusual scarlet tanager — bright orange like an oriole instead of scarlet like a tanager. We also had good looks at our Best Bird of the day: a beautiful male rose-breasted grosbeak.
Down the trail we found a tiny sentinel. A male ruby-throated hummingbird perched high on a dead snag watching his domain. We also found an Acadian flycatcher on her nest and an American robin feeding nestlings.
After so much rain the creek and first waterfall were running fast. Last Wednesday’s downpour washed a culvert into the gravel trail that reached right down to the bedrock — a layer of blue-green slate.
In all we saw / heard 29 species. The complete checklist is here.
p.s. I promised daisy fleabane and we did see it. Whew!
Summer arrived before the solstice. It’s time to get outdoors!
Join me for a bird & nature walk in Schenley Park on Sunday, June 24, 8:30a – 10:30a.
Meet at Bartlett Shelter on Bartlett Street near Panther Hollow Road. We’ll look in the meadow for birds and flowers, then explore the woodland trails. I’m sure we’ll see daisy fleabane. It’s blooming now.
Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them.
Before you come, visit the Events page in case there are changes or cancellations. The outing will be canceled if there’s lightning.
Next week the last survey window opens for counting nightjars by the light of the moon. It’s a fun way to go birding on a moonlit night — June 20 to July 6, 2018.
Nightjars are a worldwide family of nocturnal/crepuscular birds that eat flying insects on the wing. They have long wings, short legs, short bills and very wide mouths. Two of these cryptically-colored species are found in Pennsylvania:
Common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor), in flight above, breeds in cities and open habitat, grasslands, dunes.
Nightjar surveys are easy to perform and will not take more than two hours to complete. Volunteers conduct roadside counts at night, on scheduled bright moonlit nights, by driving and stopping at 10 points along a predetermined 9-mile route. At each point, the observer counts all Nightjars seen or heard during a 6-minute period.
Saturday is the 20th anniversary of the 2 June 1998 tornado that hit the City of Pittsburgh. Before that event many of us thought it was impossible for a tornado to touch down in the city limits. Hah!
Everyone who saw it has a story.
That day I was still at my desk around 6pm, gazing out the window as I talked on the phone with someone in Indianapolis. Though my office was more than three miles from the tornado I could see the storm’s approach as the sky got dark and the wind increased. I saw a crow fly into the wind but as hard as he flapped he went backwards. Uh oh!
I told the person on the phone, “I think a tornado is coming.” He said, “Don’t tell me about it. We have too many of those,” and he kept talking. Since the City of Pittsburgh had never had a tornado I figured it was OK to stay in my office but I dragged myself and the phone under my desk to continue the conversation.
Meanwhile, bad things were happening on Mt. Washington as Chuck and Joan Tague drove home across the Liberty Bridge. The worst of the storm missed their Chatham Village neighborhood but the roads were so blocked with fallen trees that they parked far away and walked home. The power was out for a very long time.
Chuck’s story is impressive! Click here or his photo below to read it.
We think of it as “the Mt. Washington tornado” but it also touched down in Carnegie and Hazelwood and traveled 32 miles before it dissipated. It was one of nine(*) tornadoes that hit our region that evening.
When I arrived at Fledge Watch I saw a peregrine on the parents’ favorite perch — a stone peak at 38SE on the Cathedral of Learning — but it wasn’t one of the parents. Through my scope I saw a dark brown juvenile. He’d made his first flight when we weren’t watching. Of course.
He was the only one visible for about an hour. Then his brother appeared on the wall above the nest (on the “railing”).
Meanwhile their parents, Hope and Terzo, put on a flight show, swooping together, circling the building, climbing and diving. “Here’s how to fly!”
They flew close to their youngsters, “Come on out here!” In Peter Bell’s photo at top, Hope looks at the fledgling as she flies by. Below, he shouts and flaps like crazy when she approaches, but he stays put.
When we left at 1:30p, all four birds were still in their places: the parents in flight and the two youngsters as circled in John English’s photo below.
Michelle Kienholz stopped by after work and the birds’ positions hadn’t changed.
Perhaps the second juvenile will fly today. Stop by Schenley Plaza for Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch today — May 30, 2018, 11:30a to 1:30p — weather permitting. We won’t be there if it’s raining.
UPDATE, May 30, 2018, 2pm: As of 2pm the youngster who fledged yesterday was flying well and perching in many places at the top of the building. His brother was still on the railing and hadn’t flown despite great encouragement from his parents. In the photo below: #1 Fledgling lounges in the gutter of the Babcock Room roof, #2 is still on the railing and Hope flies overhead dangling food at them. No one budged.
UPDATE, May 30, 2018, 5pm: At 4:30pm one of the youngsters was so tired he took a nap on top of the nestbox.
No it didn’t rain! Though the clouds lingered we had a great time in Schenley Park on Sunday morning.
The leaves obscured some of the birds but they were very active after Saturday night’s storms. We chased scarlet tanager songs without seeing them, found one of the many wood thrushes we heard in the park and had good looks at these Best Birds:
A pair of eastern phoebes guarded their nest site at the Visitors’ Center. This one watched us walk into the park.
We saw a pair of cedar waxwings beak-touching and courting.
And a male pileated woodpecker attracted our attention by constantly hammering on an enormous hollow tree. Peter Bell found him high up the slope. Best Bird for the outing and Life Bird for Peter!
11:00am: Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch. Meet at the Schenley Plaza tent.
Parking is FREE on Sundays.
Note! The 10-day weather forecast calls for thunderstorms on May 27 but that could change. If it’s storming these outings will be canceled. I don’t do lightning.
Schenley Park Bird and Nature Walk, May 27, 8:30a – 10:30a.
Join me for a bird & nature walk in Schenley Park on Sunday, May 27, 8:30a – 10:30a.
We’ll meet me at the Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center to see what’s popping in the park since our birdless walk in April. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks nest in Schenley Park. Will we see one? I hope so!
Click here for more information and in case of cancellation.
… and then …
As soon as the bird walk is over, I’ll adjourn to Schenley Plaza to look for peregrines. (I will start the watch immediately when I get there. The 11a start time insures that peregrine fans will find me even if our bird walk runs late.)
Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch, May 27, 11a – 1p.
When will the Pitt peregrine chicks fly from the Cathedral of Learning? I don’t know but I’m sure they’ll be fun to watch on Memorial Day weekend.
Join me at the Schenley Plaza tent on Sunday May 27 11a – 1p for a Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch. We’ll swap peregrine stories and get close-up looks at the peregrines through my scope.
Click here for a Google map of Schenley Plaza. Don’t forget to check the Events page for last minute updates before you come. Fledge Watch will be canceled if it’s raining or thundering.
p.s. A complete Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch schedule will be posted later this week. This year it’s harder than usual to predict when these birds will fly!
(photo of a rose-breasted grosbeak by Cris Hamilton, photo of Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch 2017 by John English, photo of the Schenley Plaza tent photo by Kate St. John)