Category Archives: Nesting & Courtship

Wailing In The Dark And Rain

Morela listens as a peregrine wails in the dark, 8 Apr 2020, 4:03a (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

8 April 2020:

This morning it was raining when I woke up at 4am and saw this snapshot of Morela wide awake and hunched over the scrape. What was she doing?

I pulled the 4am video and found out she was listening intently and sometimes ee-chupping to a peregrine wailing in the dark.

Ee-chupping is a greeting to a potential or current mate. Wailing means “I want [unknown something] to change.” Morela was speaking to a male peregrine and a male peregrine was wailing. We don’t know who was wailing and we don’t know why.

At this point I doubt there will be a peregrine egg at the Cathedral of Learning this year though Morela has been trying. This short video from Sunday 5 April 2020 at 6am shows her pulsing her vent. It looks as if her plumbing is stopped up.

We are left with more questions than answers.

  • Who was wailing and why?
  • Is Morela egg bound? Is she feeling ill?
  • Is Terzo still at the Cathedral of Learning or did the other male peregrine take over?
  • What will happen next with Terzo, Morela and whoever else might be at the Cathedral of Learning?

The answer to every question is: We don’t know.

I certainly don’t know.

Watch the National Aviary falconcam at the Univ of Pittsburgh to see what happens next.

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

New Peregrine Pair at Westinghouse Bridge

Female peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 1 April 2020 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

3 April 2020:

Peregrine news is sparse this year because we are (and should be!) staying close to home to stop the spread of COVID-19. Fortunately Dana Nesiti is monitoring the Westinghouse Bridge where he photographs the peregrines despite very poor lighting.

On 1 April Dana confirmed there’s a new pair at Westinghouse — an unbanded male and a banded female — when he captured clear images of the female’s bands.

Banded female peregrine, black/blue 48/N, at Westinghouse Bridge, 1 Apr 2020 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

The female peregrine, Black/Blue 48/N, hatched in 2016 at the Tower Building in South Bend, Indiana. She was first photographed in the Pittsburgh area at the Hulton Bridge by Gina Gilmore in January 2019 and may have nested at the 62nd Street Bridge in 2019. She was seen at 62nd Street in August and October but not in late 2019. Now we know where she is.

Banded female peregrine, black/blue 48/N, at Westinghouse Bridge, 1 Apr 2020 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Her unbanded mate is shown in two photos below. He’s the one that flies off after mating.

Unbanded male flies off after mating, Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Dana Nesiti)
Unbanded male lands after mating, Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Both birds are new to the site. The previous pair was a banded male (“George” from Cobb Island VA in 2006) and an unbanded female nicknamed “Rose.”

Since Dana saw both peregrines away from the scrape this week, we know that incubation had not yet begun at Westinghouse.

Thank you, Dana, for your excellent detective work!

p.s. Follow Dana’s bald eagle photos on Facebook at Eagles of Hays PA.

(photos by Dana Nesiti)

Two Mates, No Eggs

Unbanded male with Morela, 31 Mar 2020, 8:31a

1 April 2020

Two mates, no eggs. No fooling!

The last day of March was another confusing day at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest. Morela courted with two mates — Terzo and the unbanded male — yet she still has not laid an egg, though she looked as if she was ready to do it the day before.

Yesterday’s Day In A Minute video shows 12 hours of the revolving door, 7a-7p, in only a minute. It sure looks busy!

Thanks to all of you who’ve reported nest activity, we have a partial picture of what’s going on. I’m sure we’ve missed something.

  • 6:43a Terzo before dawn (Kate St. John)
  • 8:25a Unbanded male (Pa Gal)
  • 10:46a Terzo (Kate St. John)
  • 11:47a Unbanded male (J)
  • 12:30p seen from Schenley Park: male peregrine on lightning rod of CL while Morela at nest (Kate St. John)
  • 2:10p Terzo (Pa Gal & Mary Ann Pike)
  • 2:23p – 2:53p Terzo alone (Mary Ann Pike, Pa Gal, Luann Walz, John English)
  • 3:56p Terzo (Pa Gal)
Terzo with Morela, 31 Mar 2020, 3:55p

At this point the males have reached a stalemate. They chase each other but neither one wins.

I can’t even predict what will happen next. Keep watching the National Aviary falconcam and let me know what you see.

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

Revolving Faster, Plus Comfort Food

Morela brings comfort food to the nest to court with Terzo, 30 March 2020, 16:37

31 March 2020:

Yesterday the revolving door of male peregrine falcons moved faster at the Cathedral of Learning. Terzo and the unbanded male appeared over and over again on camera, usually with Morela. As Morela got closer to laying her first egg — not yet — she brought prey with her and clutched it while crouching over the scrape. Maybe it’s comfort food.

This Day In A Minute video for 30 March 2020, 7a-7p, shows the revolving door spinning faster and faster.

Thanks to your watchful eyes on the National Aviary falconcam and your comments telling me when a male peregrine is at the nest, I was able to piece together this play-by-play for 30 March 2020:

  • 6:36a Terzo
  • 10:02a Terzo
  • 11:26a New unbanded male
  • 11:36a New unbanded male
  • 11:52a New unbanded male
  • 12:23p New unbanded male
  • 12:49p New unbanded male
  • 1:15p New unbanded male
  • 1:57p Terzo
  • 3:32p New unbanded male
  • 3:51p Terzo
  • 4:31p Terzo
  • 4:40p Terzo
  • The rest of the day was just Morela often with comfort food

Here are just a few of the many snapshots from those visits:

Terzo and Morela before dawn, 30 March 2020, 6:37
Terzo arrives first, 30 March 2020, 10:02
Unbanded male and Morela, 30 March 2020, 11:26
Unbanded male and Morela, 30 March 2020, 12:24
Unbanded male arrives first, 30 March 2020, 12:49
Terzo and Morela, 30 March 2020, 13:57
Unbanded male and Morela, 30 March 2020, 15:32
Terzo with Morela, 30 March 2020, 15:51

At this point it’s obvious that Morela wants to lay her first egg. She often crouches over the scrape and, oddly, holds prey as she concentrates. In the photo below she has her third eyelids closed (nictitating membranes) and is clutching the same bedraggled food.

Morela concentrates on laying an egg as she clutches comfort food, 30 March 2020, 16:51 (She did not lay an egg at this visit)

As of 31 March, 7:25am there is still no egg.

Keep watching the National Aviary falconcam and let me know what you see and when. Thanks, everyone!

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

The Revolving Door Turns Again

Morela and Terzo, 29 March 2020, 17:48 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

For three days — 26 to 28 March 2020 — the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest was eerily quiet. Morela hasn’t laid an egg and she was rarely on camera. Thanks to “Pa Gal’s” faithful nest watch we found out why.

Yesterday afternoon at 3:45pm Pa Gal saw the new unbanded male courting Morela for several minutes. Two hours later, John English reported Terzo back at the nest. The revolving door has turned again.

Yesterday’s Day In A Minute video (29 March 2020, 7a-7p) shows a nest that’s mostly empty until two peregrines show up at 3:45p.

The unbanded male peregrine bowed closely with Morela, then looked around and left. I believe he’s the same male from earlier this month with the bright orange cere and legs.

Unbanded male peregrine with Morela, 29 March 2020, 15:42
Unbanded male peregrine with Morela, 29 March 2020, 15:43
Unbanded male peregrine with Morela, 29 March 2020, 15:44

The situation at this point seems to be:

  • Morela is the only female at the nest; no female challengers.
  • Terzo was on camera twice on Wednesday morning, 25 March, then absent until 5:45pm on Sunday 29 March.
  • I assume from Terzo’s absence that he was chasing away the other male for 3-4 days.
  • The dispute between the males probably explains why Morela hasn’t laid an egg yet.

It was really hard to figure this out because my usual detective method failed. (The @pittpefaALERT Twitter feed died on 20 March and won’t be back until the COVID-19 shutdown is over.)

Please keep watching the National Aviary falconcam and tell me what you see and when! We’ll get to the bottom of this eventually.

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

What’s Up At The Pitt Peregrine Nest?

Morela and Terzo bow at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 23 March 2020, 9:05 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

24 March 2020, 7am:

Yesterday’s activity on the Cathedral of Learning falconcam indicates that …

Terzo is in charge and there is no other male peregrine around. Above, he bows with Morela at 9:05am.

Below, Morela is getting close to laying her first egg which is evident from her posture at the scrape and her extended vent feathers. She stays close to the nest, even in the rain.

Morela at the scrape, 23 March 2020, 18:59 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Watch for Morela’s first egg at the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Two New Eaglets At Hays

First eaglet at Hays, 21 March 2020 (photo from Bald Eagles in Western Pennsylvania – ASWP Facebook page)

While I was distracted by the COVID-19 emergency, the Hays bald eagles hatched two eggs!

The first eaglet appeared on Sat 21 March 21 at 7:40am, above. The second one hatched on Monday 23 March at 6:40am, below.

Second eaglet at Hays, 23 March 2020 (photo from Bald Eagles of Western Pennsylvania – ASWP Facebook page)

In the day between hatchlings, Audubon Society of Western PA captured this video of the mother rolling her second egg. Notice how carefully she holds her talons inward as she steps near her chick. What a good mom!

Watch the Hays bald eagle family online at http://aswp.org/pages/hays-nest.

p.s. Stay safe, folks. Online viewing is best! Allegheny and seven other Pennsylvania counties are now under a Stay At Home order through 6 April. (Click for details) We are allowed to go outdoors but must stay six feet apart.

(photos and video from Bald Eagles of Western Pennsylvania — Audubon Society of Western PA)

Morela Is Looking Egg-y

Morela at the nest, 22 March 2020, 9:50 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Are you wondering when Morela will lay her first egg at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest?

Morela’s posture yesterday and her position at the scrape suggests she’s getting close to laying. She’s also staying quite close to the nest even when you don’t see her on camera. Yesterday at noon I saw her perched on the bulwark above the camera looking at the nest.

Stay tuned for her first egg at the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile if you can, please help the organization that hosts the falconcam …

As with all pubic venues, the National Aviary is closed for the COVID-19 emergency. Rest assured the birds are safe and receiving dedicated care from essential staff. However, the cost of care is no longer offset by visitor admissions, gift shop sales, animal encounters, etc. If you are able, please donate to the National Aviary during this time of crisis. Go to www.aviary.org/make-a-donation to make a gift online, or mail a check to the National Aviary, 700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

A Little Bit of Peregrine News

Peregrine at Tarentum Bridge, 19 March 2020 (photo by Dave Brooke)

While we’re frozen in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 it’s hard to gather information about the region’s peregrines. Here are three bits of news.

Dave Brooke visited the Tarentum Bridge on Thursday 19 March and posted the photo above at Pittsburgh Falconuts saying:

[Photo at] the Tarentum bridge nest box, 3/19 at 1:30pm. I haven’t see both falcons together yet but also haven’t spent a lot of time there this spring.

Dave Brooke on Pittsburgh Falconuts

Dave saw only one peregrine and it was outside the nestbox. This means incubation hasn’t started yet, and perhaps there are no eggs either. Last year the Tarentum female laid her first egg around 29 March (a rough estimate).

Each female peregrine has her own laying schedule. Tarentum’s is late March. There are no eggs yet in Rochester, NY either, which is normal. Be patient. Morela is not an early bird like the ones in Harrisburg and Baltimore.

Meanwhile, on Thursday 19 March Karen Lang saw both peregrines at the Ambridge Bridge.

And early last week Lori Maggio walked to the Mt. Washington Overlook for a view of the Downtown nest site from a great distance. On Sunday 15 March there were no peregrines in the nest area but on Tuesday 17 March she saw one waiting at the Third Avenue site. It was probably Dori. The peregrine is at the bottom of the left hand two-cubby slot.

Peregrine in the nest area [bottom left slot], Third Avenue, 17 March 2020 (photo by Lori Maggio)
Zoomed: Peregrine in the nest area, Third Avenue, 17 March 2020 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Thankfully getting outdoors is not cancelled!

(photos by Dave Brooke and Lori Maggio)

The Falconcam Did Not Fall Down

Today (19 March 2020) the Cathedral of Learning falconcam suddenly zoomed in very very closely so right now it looks like this.

I don’t believe it’s fallen down. You can see from this snapshot photo that the nest is just fine. There is not a camera lying in the nest.

I’m not sure who zoomed it. … If they can’t correct it, I hope they call for technical support.

Meanwhile you can see snapshots of the nest at this link. The (zoomed out) snapshot camera is the second of the two photos.