Category Archives: Peregrines

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Carla watches her chicks work on a scrap of food, 10 May 2024 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

12 May 2024

On this Mothers’ Day, Carla at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest is a first time mother who’s been learning fast.

Today her chicks are 20 days old. Most of the time they eat and sleep but as mealtime approaches they get restless. Carla babysits while Ecco hunts for food.

On Friday the chicks were mighty cute as they explored the nest under Carla’s watchful eye. This day-in-a-minute video shows their antics and Carla’s busy schedule.

(video of snapshots from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Watch the Cathedral of Learning peregrines on the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Quick Looks at Size and Behavior

White-throated sparrow and black-and-white warbler from Wikimedia, FaB Peregrine parent checking on the chick

10 May 2024

Maybe you’ve noticed that after watching warblers for a while, sparrows look huge. Gloria (@Lucent508) captured them side by side.

On Day 25 at the peregrine nest at Charing Cross Hospital in London (Fulham and Barnes), one of the chicks explored the nestbox ramp. He stumbled on the last step but enjoyed the outing nonetheless (the stumble is last photo though it actually happened first). At one point his mother looked at him as if to say, “Are you OK out there?”

Even though they are not “persons,” falconcams give us insight into the individual personalities of the peregrines on camera. This year the new unbanded female at the Wakefield Cathedral Peregrines nest (@WfldPeregrines) in Yorkshire, England has a habit never observed in the previous female: “Our previous female would never stay in the nest whilst the male fed the chicks.”

In the video below the female watches the male feed the chick. Sometimes he passes her a morsel of food which she swallows … or she feeds it to the chick. It’s not often that you see two peregrine parents feeding one chick.

(credits are in the captions and embeds)

Peregrine Update, Southwest PA, 8 May

Tarentum’s young peregrines getting ready to fledge, 7 May 2024 (photo by Dave Brooke)

8 May 2024

Loads of news from peregrine falcon nests in the Pittsburgh area. Here are the highlights.

Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny River:

Yesterday at the Tarentum Bridge Dave Brooke found the peregrine chicks exploring the ledge and exercising their wings. Their estimated hatch date was 1 April so these three would have been 36 days old yesterday.

Peregrines at Tarentum Bridge, 7 May 2024 (video embedded from Dave Brooke on YouTube)

Dave Brooke also wrote:

Views from the Tarentum Bridge Park are excellent. The fourth spent the whole time I watched on the ledge of the nest box. Mom fed the three then retreated to the railing of the back pier. I have not seen the male in more than a month.

— email from Dave Brooke on 7 May 2024

The fourth chick is at least two days younger than the others so it hadn’t reached the ledge walking stage. Meanwhile, even if the male is absent as Dave suggests, this has not adversely affected the chicks’ growth and development as you can see in the video.

These youngsters have not fledged yet but it won’t be long before they’re gone. Visit the Tarentum Bridge for great looks at this peregrine family. Click here for a map.

Cathedral of Learning, Univ of Pittsburgh:

Yesterday’s Day-in-a-Minute (actually 90 seconds) shows the two chicks sleeping, eating and motoring to the front of the nest.

Pitt peregrine nest timelapse, 7 May 2024, 7am to 7pm (video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Why do we see them sleeping with one leg extended? It was hot yesterday with a high of 81°F! The chicks are wearing down coats but their exposed legs are bare skin that allows them too cool off.

Tune in to watch them at the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh:

We had a scare on 29 April concerning the East Liberty Presby peregrines when I received a report from Elizabeth Rudzki (@ZoomingBio) that she saw an adult peregrine strike a window in Shadyside. The bird was stunned, paused on the ground, then flew away before she could retrieve her rescue equipment.

I asked Adam Knoerzer whether he’d seen both adults at the church and by 2 May he confirmed that both are present. Whew! The male is shown perched on the steeple above.

Downtown Pittsburgh: On 29 April 2024 I went to Mt Washington again to look at the Third Avenue nest through my scope. (No photo, alas.) The female was standing up in the nest area, perhaps sheltering young from the sun. If so, they ought to be at the front of the ledge in the next two weeks. Visit Third Avenue soon to see if my hunch is correct. Click here for information and directions.

Clairton Coke Works, Monongahela River:

Two peregrine chicks and two eggs at Clairton Coke Works, 25 April 2024 (photo via Dana Nesiti via USSteel)

Dana Nesiti received this photo from USSteel on 25 April that confirms peregrines are again breeding successfully at Clairton Coke Works. The pair skipped last year but raised three young in 2022. Click here and scroll down to read about their nest in early June of 2022.

Spruce Run Bridge, Ohio River:

Female peregrine framed by the moon, 1 May 2024 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Jeff Cieslak confirmed on 1 May that both peregrines are still present at the Spruce Run Bridge though they don’t seem to be breeding, perhaps because the male is still in immature plumage.

Rt 40 Bridge, West Brownsville, Monongahela River:

Fred Kachmarik checked on the Route 40 bridge in West Brownsville and found both adult peregrines at home. He wrote:

Two adults flew into the bridge screaming. It appears as if this year’s scrape is very near last year’s. There are probably eggs or nestlings but I’ll wait until a future visit to verify it.

Fred Kachmarik, eBird

PEREGRINE SUMMARY FOR SOUTHWEST PA: This table lists all the potential sites butmany of them are not breeding sites. Help fill in the blanks by visiting one of them.

Pitt Peregrine Chick Takes a Walk

Whatcha doing out there? 3 May 2024, 2:41pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

5 May 2024

Late last week the Pitt peregrine chicks had grown enough to begin walking across the nestbox.

Carla’s reaction to this activity seemed to be “What are you doing out here?” Often she stepped in to herd the chick to the back wall of the nestbox.

Chick in the middle; Both parents, 3 May 2024, 10:23am (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Yesterday, 4 May at 5:30pm, Carla and the chicks were waiting for Ecco to make a food delivery when one chick became impatient. It motored to the front where Carla was perched, begging along the way.

Carla watches a chick walk toward the green perch, 4 May 2024, 5:33pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

The entire “motoring” episode is excerpted in the 5.75 minute video below.

Carla knows they’re hungry so she checks for food scraps on the gravel but none are available. To calm the chick she pulls it toward her and shelters it under her breast. The chicks don’t have long to wait. In less than six minutes Ecco brings food to the nestbox but he is not an expert baby-feeder. Carla arrives with a large prey item and feeds the chicks. Lots of food!

Hungry chick motors to the front; Food arrives in a while(video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Turn up the sound to hear both chicks begging, one high pitched and one scratchy-sounding. The high-pitched sound comes from the smaller chick, who is likely male. The scratchy sound comes from the larger (walking) chick who is likely female. The size difference is how we tell the sex of the peregrine chick.

The chicks are growing fast. Check out their progress at the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

In the Media: Peregrines, Spring Migration, and Birding

Downtown peregrine with bands, 14 April 2023 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

3 May 2024

Usually there’s not much bird news in the media, but this was a big week so let’s catch up.

Peregrine falcon chick in Cathedral of Learning nest dies, CBS News, includes comments from Bob Mulvihill at the National Aviary. This is in addition to my report: Now There Are Only Two.

Flying high: Peregrine falcon population likely growing statewide, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Happy news continues on the peregrine’s success story in Pennsylvania.

Here come the early birds: Hummingbirds and warblers part of the first wave of spring migrants News on spring migration and recent hot weather.

And in case you missed it earlier this week, I appeared in a birding segment on KDKA’s Talk Pittsburgh with hosts Heather Abraham and Boaz Frankel at Frick Park.

video embedded from CBS Pittsburgh on YouTube

(credits are in the captions)

Now There Are Only Two

Two thriving chicks, 3rd chick inert, 28 April 2024, 12:26pm

29 April 2024

When Carla and Ecco’s third egg hatched on 24 April we expected that all three chicks would thrive but our expectations had to change as we watched the third chick in its first days of life. By yesterday afternoon it was apparent that the third chick had died. He had trouble feeding and never grew. Unfortunately he failed to thrive.

This slideshow from the National Aviary snapshot camera shows key moments that indicate he was not in good condition on 26-28 April. For instance:

  • During feedings the third chick faced away or fell down.
  • On 26 April he motored far from the group during a feeding.
  • By dawn on Sunday 28 April his body was flat and unresponsive. He had probably died overnight.

The remaining two chicks are growing rapidly and doing well. They are nearly too large to brood.

Carla with two chicks, 29 April 2024, 6:46am

Watch them grow up at the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Three Chicks at Pitt Peregrine Nest

Carla, Chick #3 (pink) and its eggshell, 24 April 2024, 7:41pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

25 April 2024

The third chick at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest hatched last evening around 7:40pm. All day long he hammered on his shell, expanding the pip to a crack surrounding the egg. Just before nightfall he opened the shell and rested face down. Hatching is exhausting work!

You can see the open eggshell and the wet, pink chick in snapshots above and below.

Carla, Chick #3 (pink) and its eggshell, 24 April 2024, 7:42pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

After the third chick emerged it was time for the last feeding before dark. When Carla left to get the food we could see all three chicks (two white, one pink) as well as the remaining unhatched egg behind the open shell.

3 chicks and one egg before the evening meal, 24 April 2024, 7:47pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Ecco stepped in to keep the chicks warm while Carla prepared the food.

Ecco arrives to keep them warm while Carla prepares the meal, 24 April 2024, 7:50pm

Ecco left as Carla returned with their sixth feeding of the day.

Carla arrives to feed the chicks, Ecco leaves, 24 April 2024, 7:52pm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Last night the third chick was too new and exhausted to eat yet but he’ll be feeding today. Watch three chicks grow up at the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

UPDATE, 28 April 2024, 3:30pm: Sad to say, the 3rd chick has died. He had trouble feeding and never got any larger. Both are signs of a failure to thrive.

(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

News of Other Nests

Peregrine pair at Ben Avon, perched in hillside trees, 22 April 2024 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

24 April 2024

While we watch the Pitt peregrine family on the National Aviary falconcam at the Cathedral of Learning, there are other nests to watch in person.

Spruce Run Bridge, Ohio River:

After Jeff Cieslak discovered an immature male peregrine in Ben Avon on 5 April he’s returned often to the Spruce Run Bridge to check on the bird’s status. On 22 April Jeff was surprised to find the male had attracted a mate! The pair courted at the bridge, flew around, and posed in hillside trees (photo at top). Here’s Jeff’s series from Earth Day 2024.

Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny River:

Dave Brooke frequently records the Tarentum Bridge peregrine family. On 19 April he saw four chicks. On 23 April their growing wing and tail feathers were quite evident, though only two stood up enough to be seen. These birds will start ledge walking during the week of 6 May. The first will probably fledge on 11 May.

Peregrines at Tarentum Bridge, 19 April 2024 (video embedded from Dave Brooke on YouTube)
Peregrine chicks at Tarentum Bridge, 22 April 2024 (video embedded from Dave Brooke on YouTube)

Westinghouse Bridge, Turtle Creek:

Peregrines have nested at the Westinghouse Bridge since at least 2010. Last Sunday, 21 April, Dana Nesiti found the male perched near the bridge. The female was probably busy incubating at the time.

Peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge, 21 April 2024 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Sewickley Bridge, Ohio River

Jeff Cieslak was disappointed to see the pair at the Sewickley Bridge mating again on 22 April. If their nest had been a success they would still be incubating, not mating. Jeff says this activity follows the typical pattern at Sewickley of repeated nest attempts but no young each year.

Peregrine pair mating at the Sewickley Bridge, 22 April 2024 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

This list is not fully updated but will help you decide where to look for peregrines.

(credits are in the captions)

Two Chicks, Two Eggs, Keep Watching

Two chicks, two eggs, one with a pip (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh peregrine nest, 23 April 2024, 6:26am)

23 April 2024

Yesterday two of Carla and Ecco’s four eggs hatched: one at 11:02am, the second at 15:28 (3:38pm). The evidence each time was the half eggshell that Carla pulled out from under her. She ate most of the shells immediately.

This morning the chicks ate just before sunrise, then slept in a heap (at top) while Carla took out the garbage. This slideshow highlights their first day of life including this morning’s feeding.

Today will be a big day for Chick#3 whose egg has a large pip. He will probably hatch today.

Keep watching the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

(all photos from National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

It’s Hatch Day at Pitt! Happy Earth Day 2024!

First sight of the hatched peregrine chick and half eggshell, 22 Apr 2024, 11:02am (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

22 April 2024

This morning at 11:02am the first of Carla and Ecco’s four eggs hatched at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest. Our glimpse was fleeting because Carla kept her back to the camera (above). Later in the hour she turned and we got a better view.

This slideshow from the streaming falconcam contains the best snapshots from the 11:00am hour with one chick, one pipped egg, and an empty eggshell. Carla ate the eggshell to regain the calcium she lost in laying the egg. The shell was nearly gone by noon.

You can see Ecco’s very brief visit at 11:42am in these video highlights.

He made another appearance in the 1:00 o’clock hour but I missed it.

Stay tuned to the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh to see the remaining eggs hatch and the chicks grow up.

Happy Earth Day!


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