Category Archives: Peregrines

Sad News About Red Boy

Red Boy hams it up at the snapshot camera, 6 June 2022 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

28 June 2022

This morning at around 10:30am Red Boy, the juvenile male from this year’s Pitt peregrine nest, was found dead on the runway at the Allegheny County Airport, apparently hit by a plane. Game Warden Doug Bergman called with his band numbers Black/Green 03/BZ and the fact that he still had the red tape on his USFW band that gave him the nickname “Red Boy.”

Red Boy on banding day, 26 May 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Red Boy was always inquisitive and ready to go. He was the first to fledge and the first to leave home around 17 June. On the map he flew 6+ miles due south and found a place with plenty of birds that are easy to catch when they fly across the runways.

Red Boy was already on his big adventure. Unfortunately, he had no idea how quickly a plane could overtake him.

Sad as this is it is not unexpected. Young peregrines have a 62.5% mortality rate in their first year of life. Read more at Musings on Peregrine Mortality.

p.s. The lack of news about equipment damage leads me to believe that the plane was fine after the encounter … but see the comment from Dick Rhoton.

(photos by Kate St. John and from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dori & Terzo Successful Downtown

Fledgling on a roof at Third Avenue, 27 June 2022 (photo by Lori Maggio)

28 June 2022

Back in mid-May I thought it unlikely that Pittsburgh’s Downtown peregrines would have a successful nesting season. Terzo was seen with a new unbanded female and Dori, at 16 years old, had low prospects for a healthy youngster. But I was wrong.

Yesterday morning Lori Maggio stopped by Third Avenue to look for peregrine activity and found three: Terzo, Dori, and a loud fledgling. The youngster had fledged to a safe zone across Third Avenue and was whining loudly.

Terzo whined back. (Read the captions for the story.)

Terzo responds to the fledgling. His bands are visible in a zoomed photo, 27 June 2022 (photo by Lori Maggio)
Fledgling whining to his parents at Third Avenue, 27 June 2022 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Terzo picked up the prey and delivered it to the fledgling.

Terzo with food for the fledgling, 27 June 2022 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Meanwhile the female watched from one of the gargoyles on Lawrence Hall. Lori couldn’t get a photo of her bands but I can tell this is Dori. Her face and chest markings match this positive ID photo of Dori.

Dori watches from a gargoyle on Lawrence Hall, 27 June 2022 (photo by Lori Maggio)

On 29 May I saw two nestlings through my scope from Mt. Washington. Yesterday Lori didn’t see a second youngster but it may have been silent.

Here’s hoping the loud fledgling did well on his next flight.

(photos by Lori Maggio)

Peregrine Post-Fledge News, 26 June

Fledgling at prison water tower as male comes in with prey, Eckert Street peregrines, 22 June 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

26 June 2022, Updated 27 June

In late June young peregrines are learning to hunt before they leave home in July. Here’s an update for southwestern Pennsylvania.

Cathedral of Learning, Univ of Pittsburgh

Kate looks for young peregrines on Webster Hall & St. Paul’s Cathedral steeple (photo by Rick St. John)

The peregrine chicks that hatched two months ago have learned how to hunt but still wait in Oakland to beg from their parents. The youngsters’ favorite haunts are St. Paul’s Cathedral steeple, Webster Hall roof, Heinz Chapel steeple, and of course the Cathedral of Learning. In the photo above I’m watching two juvies on Webster Hall roof while Ecco monitors them from St. Paul’s. Since June 16 or 19 I have seen only two of the three juveniles, both females.

Downtown Pittsburgh, Third Avenue

Fledgling at Third Avenue roof, 27 June 2022 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Lori Maggio visited Third Avenue around 8am on 27 June and saw three peregrines: Dori, Terzo and a fledgling. Read more here.

Monaca Bridges, Ohio River: Mark Vass saw a single peregrine on 25 June.

Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge, Ohio River: Mark Vass saw one peregrine on 11 June.

Sewickley Bridge, Ohio River: Mark Vass saw one peregrine on the bridge on 12 June. Jeff Cieslak photographed one on 8 June.

Solo peregrine at Sewickley Bridge, 8 June 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Eckert Street / McKees Rocks Bridge area, Ohio River

Juvie peregrine flies with prey, adult peregrine follows, 25 June 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

The Eckert Street juvenile peregrines are learning how to hunt! Yesterday Jeff Cieslak watched the parents fly by holding prey as if to say, “Come get it!” The youngsters chased and grabbed, including this one grappling with a pigeon. Their favorite place is now the water tower at Western Penitentiary (SCI Pittsburgh) next to the Ohio River.

Adult peregrine on the prison water tower (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

This family has a wide selection of food because they live so close to the river. On 17 June I found a prey item in two pieces in Don’s Diner parking lot: Body-with-legs and head-with-a-stray-leaf. Green heron.

Green heron in pieces, peregrine prey at Eckert Street, 17 June 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Westinghouse Bridge, Turtle Creek

Female peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge with prey for juvie, 26 June 2022 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

UPDATE: On 26 June Dana Nesiti was lucky to see both the female and the lone juvenile peregrine at the Westinghouse Bridge. The juvie was whining for food. The female brought some.

Clairton Coke Works

Dana Nesiti reports on 21 June: “I inquired about the falcons at the Clairton Coke works and was told that 2 of the juvies were caught on the ground and put back up on the quenching tower and all 3 are flying good now.”

62nd Street Bridge / Aspinwall / Highland Park Bridge

62nd Street and Highland Park bridges as seen from underneath Aspinwall RR bridge (photo by Kate St. John)

On 19 June 2022 Mark Vass saw three peregrines at the Highland Park Bridge including an adult feeding a juvenile. When I stopped by on 25 June I saw one adult. Mark’s observation confirms that peregrines bred in this stretch of the Allegheny River but we don’t know where.

Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny River

Female peregrine at Tarentum Bridge, 2 June 2022 (photo by Dave Brooke)

The nestlings at the Tarentum Bridge fledged earlier than the other sites and were flying really well when Steve Valasek and his kids visited on 17 June. They saw four peregrines fly by!

Here’s a summary for southwestern Pennsylvania, all in one place.

(photos Rick St. John, Kate St. John, Jeff Cieslak, Dana Nesiti, Dave Brooke)

Let’s Call Her Trouble

The wanderer voices her opinion, 17 June 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

18 June 2022

Yesterday morning at 7:45am I got a call from Game Warden Doug Bergman. He was heading to an assignment in Fayette County but had just received a call that a peregrine fledgling was walking on McClure Street in Pittsburgh. By the time he could finish in Fayette and drive back to Pittsburgh it would be afternoon, way too long for this bird to be on the street.

Peregrine fledglings cannot take off from the ground in their first 24 hours of flight so this one needed an assist to get up to a high perch and start over again. Could I help?

Google Maps showed the incident at the corner of McClure and Eckert Streets — the Eckert Street peregrine nest. Jeff Cieslak had called in the trouble ticket and Jeff was still on site. Maybe we could put the bird on a nearby roof — if we could catch it. I would get there by 9:00am.

The trouble started around 6:30am when Marcy Kemmler, owner of Don’s Diner, saw a peregrine fledgling walking on the street. She stopped traffic, herded the bird onto the sidewalk and called Jeff. By the time he arrived Marcy had already saved the bird’s life several times. It was standing in clover under the California Avenue Bridge. Its size looked female to me.

Peregrine fledgling on the ground at McClure Street, 17 June 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

The fledgling walked behind Don’s Diner and jumped up to the highest spot she could find, two feet off the ground.

Peregrine fledgling behind Don’s Diner, 17 June 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

She continued walking into Don’s Diner parking lot under the Eckert Street Bridge. When I arrived Jeff was guarding the bird at the base of the arch. Marcy and I walked toward Jeff. The bird’s mother started shouting from her perch on the California Avenue Bridge.

Eckert Street mother peregrine shouts from the California Avenue Bridge, 17 July 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

The fledgling was on the ground between the two arches (to the right of the red square in photo below). Jeff blocked the bird’s retreat away from the Diner while Marcy and I blocked its progress toward it. We didn’t realize we were loosely surrounding the fledgling but the bird’s mother did realize it and warned her youngster. Meanwhile Marcy was praying that the bird would walk up the arch.

Don’s Diner in April 2021. Red box shows the base of the arch where the peregrine walked up (screenshot from WPXI video)

I had never seen a peregrine walk up a bridge so I didn’t understand the significance of Marcy’s prayer until it was answered. The bird flapped up to the arch and walk-flapped its way to the top. Whew!

Peregrine fledgling walk-flaps her way up the arch, 17 June 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

After it made it to near the top of the beam, we moved away to try to get a better look. Kate said, “Now would be a good time for the adults to feed it,” and as if on cue, the male comes back from his (successful) hunt, and the female flies out to scream at him (normal) and guide him directly to the newly-returned fledgling. I didn’t get any pics of that because I was amazed that it was even happening.

Jeff Cieslak at Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook page

We watched for an hour and the birds calmed down.

Just before we left Marcy said, “What should we call this bird?” It didn’t take long to decide. Marcy said, “Let’s call her Trouble.”

(photos by Jeff Cieslak, screenshot of Don’s Diner from WPXI)

UPDATE from Jeff Cieslak on 18 June @ Eckert, 8pm: Marcy called, the bird was on the ground again this evening oh, and the sun was going down. I was just relaying the story of Friday’s adventure to my friends, so we hop in the car and drove down to try to help. By the time I got there, Marcy had shepherded the bird back to the beam and it was crawling up the beam when we pulled into the parking lot. Marcy adds: “Trouble was down in the street again tonight and I got it all the way back up to the bridge. Jeff was just pulling in with his wife to try to help and I got it back up. We surely are naming that thing Trouble but it’s so amazing and it was really talking to me too. It got stuck in my little fence and I had to get it out.” Fortunately, after 18 June Trouble didn’t get into trouble again.

p.s. Watch this WPXI video about Don’s Diner and a movie filmed there a year ago in April 2021. Another movie will begin production at Don’s Diner next week.

How to Find a Fledgling Peregrine

Blue jay harasses juvenile Pitt peregrine 5 Jun 2021 (photo by Charity Kheshgi)

8 June 2022

Now that the young Pitt peregrines have begun to fly you’ll have an opportunity in the next 5-7 days to see them up close on campus — maybe even as close as Charity Kheshgi saw one last year (above).

How do you find them?

Walk around campus near the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel and keep your eyes and ears open. Small birds will help, as the blue jay is doing above. Check out all the tips.

After they’ve flown for about a week they leave for other buildings and are really hard to find.

Flying Leaps!

Silver Girl takes a flying leap toward the snapshot camera, 6 June 2022 (photo from the snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

7 June 2022

There are First Flight updates at the end of this article.

Yesterday the young Pitt peregrines practiced their flight skills by making short flying leaps to nearby ledges. The snapshot camera captured their antics, sometimes quite close!

Today they won’t be so active because it’s raining all day. Wet feathers are heavy so young birds who’ve never flown don’t make their first attempt in the rain. Today’s Fledge Watch is canceled because …

UPDATES between bouts of rain:

FLEDGLING UPDATE: 9:30am and noon from rooftop in North Oakland: It appears one of the chicks fledged this morning to the high side of the Cathedral of Learning, facing Heinz Chapel. (My guess is Red Boy.) Why I think this: Morela is babysitting in unusual places on 40th and 38E patio ledge. Morela’s behavior is a Fledge Watch Tip, described here.

FLEDGLING UPDATE: 12:30 to 1:00pm on a quick walk to Schenley Plaza: Two juvenile females were on the nestrail flapping, leaping, skimming the nestrail. At 1:00pm the darker one (I think Silver Girl) launched from the nestrail and flew a lot! Morela & Ecco both zoomed in & herded her back to the CL. (Ecco dropped his talons to herd her.) She landed on the netting at SE 26 & is cooling off, probably getting her heartbeat back to normal.

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

Flying at Westinghouse

Mother peregrine has food ready as a reward for first flight, Westinghouse Bridge, 5 June 2022 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

6 June 2022

Yesterday at the Westinghouse Bridge Dana Nesiti captured a photo series that shows us a young peregrine in first flight. He almost didn’t capture it at all, as he describes below.

6-5-2022 Westinghouse Bridge. We have a fledge!! When I got there early the female was sitting in front of the scrape. The juvie came out and hopped down the arch turned around and went back to the scrape. … I put my teleconverter on and the juvie flew, completely catching me off guard. It flew and disappeared under the bridge. The female came back and landed on the handrail to the left of the scrape. She looked around and when she took off she had prey … flew to a cache site and went back on the handrail. The juvie flew out and up over the bridge and I lost it. I had to pack up but did one more walk scanning the bridge and I found the juvie fleeping up the very center arch.

Dana Nesiti at Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook page

It’s easy to tell which bird is which in the slideshow. The mother bird is charcoal gray and white and is banded, Black/Blue 48/N from Indiana. The youngster is brown and cream colored, unbanded. He’s also quite awkward compared to his mother. (The slideshow repeats.)

  • Mother peregrine watches youngster, Westinghouse Bridge, 5 June 2022 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

And what is “fleeping?” Looks like “fly-leaping” to me.

Thanks, Dana, for the great photos!

(photos by Dana Nesiti)

Yesterday at Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch

Two young peregrines on the nestrail at Cathedral of Learning, 4 June 2022 (photo by Michelle Kienholz)

5 June 2022

Yesterday the young peregrines at the Cathedral of Learning were up on the nestrail exercising their wings. We think one may have fledged in mid-afternoon.

Charity Kheshgi arrived at 11:00am and saw an adult bald eagle fly over, too high to inspire Morela to attack so there were no fireworks like these in 2012.

Red Boy was particularly active, running, flapping and levitating from the nestrail. At the end of each run he would pause, then walk back to his starting point and run again. The top photo shows him at the starting point with his sister.

Since the peregrines match the building, I’ve circled them in yellow in these photos by John English.

  • Two juveniles on the nestrail, 4 June 2022 (photo by John English)

Their parents watched from nearby. The photo below shows four members of the family, Morela and Ecco at left and right with two juveniles in the middle.

  • Four peregrines perched at Cathedral of Learning, 4 June 2022 (photo by John English)

But the fifth may have been in the picture too. Notice that as Morela is looking in the gully, one of the juvies is perched in the keyhole.

  • Morela watches a juvie in the gully, 4 June 2022 (photo by John English)

After we left Michelle Kienholz watched for a couple of hours. Around 2:50pm she saw a flutter of brown wings off the nestrail and then an adult flew. This is just the sort of quick confusing activity that heralds a fledging taking off for the first time. Was it Red Boy making his first flight, followed by a babysitting adult?

We’ll have to count heads at Fledge Watch today from 11:00am to 12:30pm. The weather will be perfect. We might even stay longer if we’re inspired. Join us (info here)!

p.s. If you come on your own, here’s a guide on where to look for the juvies: Where is the Nest at Pitt?

(photos by Michelle Kienholz and John English)

Peregrine News at Every Nest, 2 Jun

Fledgling at Tarentum Bridge, 30 May 2022 (photo by Steve Gosser)

2 June 2022

Activity is frantic at Pittsburgh area peregrine nests as the 2022 nesting season races to a close in the next few weeks. Here’s the news from all the nests.

Cathedral of Learning, Univ of Pittsburgh

Talk about frantic! Here’s yesterday in-a-minute at the Cathedral of Learning.

Two chicks in Downtown Pittsburgh, Third Avenue

LOUSY PHOTO, but I saw 2 chicks and 1 adult, Third Ave nest, 29 May 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

On 29 May I viewed the Third Avenue nest from Mt Washington near the Mon Incline. My lousy digi-scoped photo does not capture the two chicks and one adult I saw roaming the nest. The chicks are younger here than those at other nests.

Four at Eckert Street

Four peregrine chicks at Eckert Street, 1 June 2022 (photo by Jeff Cieslak)

Jeff Cieslak counted four chicks yesterday at the Eckert Street nest. They’re just a little bit younger than the Pitt peregrines.

One at Westinghouse

One chick at Westinghouse Bridge, 28 May 2022 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Every time Dana Nesiti visits the Westinghouse Bridge he sees only one chick, as shown on 28 May.

Three at Clairton Coke Works

  • Aerial view of Clairton Coke Works (photo from gasp-pgh.org)

On 25 May, Dana Nesiti accompanied Game Warden Doug Bergman to Clairton Coke Works to view the newest and most industrialized peregrine nest in western Pennsylvania (slideshow above). I’ve added two views of the coke plant to show the quench towers where the birds are nesting (red arrow). Learn more about this nest in Mary Ann Thomas’s article at Trib-Live.

Three Fledging at Tarentum

Fledgling peregrine at Tarentum Bridge, 30 May 2022 (photo by Steve Gosser)

On 30 May Steve Gosser found that one of the three youngsters had flown at the Tarentum Bridge. The next day Dave Brooke confirmed there was still only one, but by now there are probably more. Stop by the Tarentum Bridge to see three young peregrines learn to fly.

And just in case you prefer text to pictures, here’s the summary for southwestern Pennsylvania.

(photos by Steve Gosser, the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh, Kate St. John, Jeff Cieslak, Dana Nesiti, Mark Dixon)

Peregrine Yo-Yos

Silver Girl calls to Morela, 31 May 2022, 3:38pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

1 June 2022

Yesterday was an eventful day at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine nest where, like a couple of yo-yos, two of the three chicks hopped into and out of the gully. As usual, food was the great motivator that brought them back to the nest.

Yellow Girl fell into the gully last Saturday so by yesterday she’d been down there three days eating scraps that fell from the nest. How was she doing? Bob Mulvihill at the National Aviary panned the falconcam so we could see her. At 12:12pm she was in the keyhole with her tail showing.

At 12:26pm Red Boy decided to try the gully for himself and disappeared below where he hung out with Yellow Girl in the shade (see slideshow below).

The youngest, Silver Girl (whose blue tape came off of her silver band), stayed topside. She’s quite well fed so when Morela fussed with food at 3:39pm, Silver Girl didn’t go for it. Red Boy did! When he saw Morela toying with food he jumped back to the green perch and into the nest.

The enticement of food worked so well that Morela made sure to take her time at the 5:37pm feeding. She knew Yellow Girl was watching and it didn’t take long before the wanderer jumped to the green perch, flapped to the nest, snatched the food from Morela and Red Boy, and mantled while she ate. Yellow Girl was hungry!

That happened fast, didn’t it! Here it is in a stop-motion slideshow. (If the slideshow doesn’t advance swipe it right to left.)

This morning all three chicks are in the nest but two have already ledge walked and now have the confidence to explore.

Three chicks in the nest, 1 June 2022, 7:46am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Don’t be surprised when they go off camera.

We’ll see them at Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch at Schenley Plaza June 4, 5 and 7. Meanwhile you can watch them on the National Aviary falconcam.

(photos and video from the National Aviary falconcam)