Morela and Ecco are unbanded, so this was a first time experience for them. Morela shouted from above the nest as Patti Barber collected her chicks.
Indoors, the chicks were given health checks (they are very healthy!), weighed to determine their sex (one male, two females) and given two leg bands: a black/green color band that can be read through binoculars and a silver USFW band.
Patti placed a bit of colored tape on each USFW silver band which will be visible on the falconcam and in photos: Red for the male chick, Yellow and Blue for the female chicks.
In less than 40 minutes the chicks were back at the nest and soon their lives returned to normal.
Next Tuesday 31 May the PA Game Commission, the National Aviary and Pitt will issue press releases about the banding. Stay tuned for my followup article that will be loaded with photos, media links, and perhaps a video.
Six of us gathered at Schenley Park yesterday morning in perfect weather for a bird and nature walk. (The sixth is taking the picture.)
First on the agenda was a look through my scope at the Pitt peregrines. Though we were half a mile from the Cathedral of Learning we could see one adult babysitting and two fluffy heads looking out the front of the nestbox. This is where the chicks were standing as we watched.
Inside the park, a pair of red-tailed hawks is raising three chicks about the same age as the peregrines. We paused on our walk to watch them eat. Best views are from here.
Scroll through Charity Kheshgi’s Instagram photos to see our Best Birds including the blackpoll warbler pictured above.
Of the eleven peregrine sites we’re monitoring in Southwestern PA, we know the adults are bringing food to four nests and we’ve already seen chicks at three of them.
Look for the chicks at all four nests to begin to fly in the next three weeks.
Cathedral of Learning, Univ of Pittsburgh:
As of today the chicks are 26 days old and very active. On Thursday they started to grab food from Morela and take it away to eat, so yesterday Ecco brought prey for them to prepare and eat on their own. They couldn’t figure out what to do with it.
In this Day-in-a-Minute video you can see the prey item in the middle of the nestbox for a while. It’s a yellow-billed cuckoo. Morela fed it to them eventually.
I expect the Pitt nestlings to be on camera through the end of May, then walk off the nest in early June (off camera) and make their first flight a few days later. Watch the Cathedral of Learning nest on the National Aviary falconcam to see if I’m right.
Stay tuned for Fledge Watch fun in early June. Schedule to follow soon.
Eckert Street / McKees Rocks Bridge area, Ohio River:
When Jeff Cieslak last checked on the Eckert Street peregrines on 10 May, the male was bringing food to nest. Jeff’s been out of town since then so … though we know there are chicks in the nest no one has seen them yet. Stop by Eckert Street and see what’s up.
Westinghouse Bridge, Turtle Creek:
On 20 May Dana Nesiti saw a chick at the edge of the nest ledge. This one may be the same age as the Pitt peregrine chicks. Watch for them to fly in early June.
Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny River:
The 3 young peregrines at the Tarentum Bridge are a week older than the Pitt nestlings and will fly before the end of May. Stop by soon if you want to see them! More information here.
Thanks to Dave Brooke’s observations and photos we know there are three peregrine falcon chicks at the Tarentum Bridge nestbox and they probably hatched on 18 April 2022. Go see them soon! They will fly before the end of May.
In yesterday’s photo, above, they are 30 days old. In the 11 May photo below they are 23 days.
Based on their age, we expect them to walk out of the box onto the pier this weekend. If any are male they’ll make their first flight as early as a week from today, Friday 27 May. Females tend to fledge four days later, maybe as early as Tuesday 31 May.
If you’ve been putting off a visit don’t wait any longer. The next 10 days will be the best time to see the peregrines. Visit the Tarentum boat launch or the sidewalk on 1st Avenue for the best view. Click here for a map.
See into the nestbox, circled below, by standing on 1st Avenue.
This year Dori, the resident female peregrine in Downtown Pittsburgh, is 16 years old — quite elderly for a wild peregrine falcon. Nonetheless, on 17 April I confirmed incubation at her nest when I spotted a peregrine inside the Third Avenue nest site.
A week later I confirmed that this bird is Dori when I found her perched on Third Avenue on 24 April and read her bands through my scope (Black/green M/93). Darn it! she obscured the code just before I snapped this photo.
Why was Dori off the nest? Was Terzo incubating while I was there (unseen in the nest)? Or was Terzo not helping at all, similar to his behavior with Morela in 2020?
I got a hint when Steve Mortimer emailed me on 26 April.
Yesterday [25 April 2022], at about noon, I had the windows open. I live in the former Alcoa building in the corner closest to the William Penn Hotel. I kept hearing a bird chirping. It seemed right outside my window. After scanning for a bit I noticed the peregrine on the box gutter of the William Penn Hotel. That wasn’t the caliber of bird I expected from that noise. … This happened over and over again until around 5:30 PM when I spotted a new falcon. Perched higher up on the building. Smaller, sleeker, much more elegant looking. … My noisy neighbor continued in her spot. … She was still there when it was very dark and there was just enough light to barely make her out. I could hear her in the morning through the windows … she took off around 9:30 AM. Moments later I noticed a bird soaring around in the distance. Then two. Then one again. Then none. She hasn’t returned since.
— email from Steve Mortimer, 26 April 2022
The unbanded female Steve photographed is bowing to another peregrine. Who?
Steve did not see a second peregrine (male) until much later and only from a distance, labeled “Newcomer” in his diagram.
and a banded male. It’s Terzo, the resident male in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Here’s a closeup of his bands.
Just like humans, peregrines can see when another of their species is not in tiptop shape. Both Terzo and the unbanded female know that Dori is elderly and, as we know from Dorothy at Pitt in 2015, elderly female peregrines can lay eggs but few are viable and any chicks that hatch have disabilities.
Terzo seems to have changed loyalties. The new female is waiting in the wings. The Downtown peregrines are embroiled in Peyton Place.
(photos by Kate St. John, Steve Mortimer and Amanda Linn @amandolin_)
Pittsburgh is in the throes of heavy rain(*) and it is still raining this morning. Since food was hard to find in yesterday’s steady downpour, the Pitt peregrine chicks did not eat often and there were fewer opportunities to count heads and look for the weak fourth chick. However, every time the family moved it was clear the fourth chick was gone.
The last time he participated in a feeding was the day before, on 5 May. He was fed standing up at 8:21am but collapsed minutes later. Morela fed him on his back.
The fourth chick was absent from subsequent feedings until his lifeless body was seen on the gravel behind his siblings at 3:04pm (below).
By yesterday morning he was gone. Perhaps one of the adults removed his body overnight. He does not appear on camera on 6 May 2002. See the time lapse video below.
Meanwhile the remaining chicks are thriving and, at 11 days old, have grown their second down and started their wing and tail feathers. Tomorrow their ears will be distinct.
Yesterday I was quite surprised when the fourth of five peregrine eggs hatched at the Cathedral of Learning nest. The chick emerged, pink and wet, while Morela was feeding his three older siblings at 1:20pm. (see update at end)
Morela laid five eggs in March but the fourth egg appeared three days after incubation began so I expected it to hatch three days after the other chicks that hatched on 26 April. In other words, on 29 April. Instead it was three days after that.
With its siblings nearly a week old the new chick looked tiny and vulnerable but it is not. We had already forgotten that newly hatched chicks must dry off and wait a bit before their first feeding.
Chick #4 is getting his fair share so far. Check out these slides from the 8:45pm feeding. (Yes, Morela feeds them after sunset.) The fourth chick moves around to the front of the pack and gets lots of food.
4th tiny chick is on the left
4th chick moves toward the front
4th chick is ready at the front
4th chick flaps for more
4th chick is eating a lot
Morela she stuffs the older ones first, then focuses her attention on the smallest chick.
We now have four nestlings at the Pitt peregrine nest. Will we have five soon? According to my calculations the whitish egg#5 is due to hatch today. But we know how bad my calculations are.
Yesterday the three chicks at the Pitt peregrine nest were five days old, growing fast, and eating often — as many as five times yesterday. At this age their weight has doubled since they hatched.
Morela and Ecco feed them frequently in the late afternoon. At the 3:35pm feeding a blue jay was on the menu (above) but it had to be plucked and the nest got messy. This feeding was hard to see on the streaming falconcam because Morela’s back was in the way.
An hour later Morela stood to the side with an easy view as she fed the chicks in this 12 minute video. Listen for the chicks’ begging sounds and Morela’s “chupping” that encourages them to eat.
As soon as they eat they fall asleep. Morela tucks them in.
There are still two unhatched eggs at Morela and Ecco’s nest. The reddish one is past its due date and probably won’t hatch. The whitish egg is due to hatch tomorrow, 3 May … but maybe not.
UPDATE AT 1:30PM: (Proving me wrong again) egg#4 just hatched!
This morning Ecco brought food before dawn to the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest. While Morela fed the chicks I watched closely, counting heads and looking for eggs. The chicks obscured the remaining eggs but with the family at three chicks I assume eggs #4 and #5 are still waiting to hatch.
Egg #4 is on its way. Yesterday morning I saw a pip, below, during the 10am feeding.
Will egg #4 hatch today? Will egg #5 hatch next week?