Category Archives: Peregrines

Preparing to Track a Young Peregrine

On June 10, 2019 the PA Game Commission (PGC) rescued, banded and MOTUS nano-tagged one of Downtown Pittsburgh’s five peregrine fledglings. As of June 27 our bird was one of eight Pennsylvania peregrines fitted with a tracking device for a PGC study that will learn where urban-born peregrines go and how many survive their challenging first year of life.

The video above, narrated by PGC’s Patti Barber, shows what the tagging process was like. She fit a young peregrine with a MOTUS tag and released it near its rooftop nest. The peregrine wore a falconry hood during the fitting to keep him calm.

Tagged birds rejoin their families immediately. On June 20 Lori Maggio photographed our Downtown MOTUS peregrine hanging out with a sibling more than week after he was released.

Two juvenile peregrines in Downtown Pittsburgh, one has a MOTUS nanotag, 20 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is assisting PGC with the study and wrote an informative blog post about the project. Read it here.

p.s. The video was not filmed in Pittsburgh. It’s in Harrisburg. (Thanks to John English for telling me the location.)

(video by PA Game Commission, photo by Lori Maggio)

Remembering Louie: 2002 – 2019

In late June, after five young peregrines fledged from Pittsburgh’s Third Avenue nest, their father Louie was found dead at age 17. He was exceptionally old for a wild peregrine but longevity was in his genes.

Louie hatched in 2002, the son of Dorothy and Erie during their first successful year at the Cathedral of Learning. Dorothy fledged 43 young at Pitt before she disappeared at age 16.5.

Dorothy was the daughter of Sibella and Bill who were both part of The Peregrine Fund‘s Midwest Peregrine Recovery Program. Sibella nested at the First Wisconsin Building in Milwaukee through her 15th year. With a long-lived mother and grandmother it’s no wonder Louie made it to 17.

Louie started breeding early. In 2003 he was one year old when he won Pittsburgh’s Downtown territory. It was a tumultuous spring with two females and two males vying for the Gulf Tower nest. In the end Louie fought and killed Boris at the nestbox and became Tasha’s mate.

From 2003-2009 Louie fledged 24 young with Tasha. In her last breeding year he was especially protective of her on Banding Day.

The next year, 2010, was Louie’s chance to shine. In late March Dori defeated Tasha and became a first-time parent. Louie showed her the ropes as described in the links below:

Louie was versatile. In their years together he and Dori moved their nest from year to year using three sites to fledge 39 young.

In 2012 they chose a cubbyhole on 3rd Avenue where they’ve nested 5 times. In 2015 they nested at Macy’s Annex. In 2014 and 2017 they returned to the Gulf Tower.

2018 ended sadly at Third Avenue when the Keystone Flats development was granted a Special Takings Permit and had their chicks removed. This year they were back at Third Avenue to raise and fledge five young. Louie was a good dad to the end.

All told Louie fathered 63 young peregrines. Like his mother Dorothy, Louie was the head of a dynasty.

(photos by Brian Cohen, Ann Hohn, Lori Maggio, Maria Ochoa, Matt Orres and the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Peregrine Fledging at 62nd Street Bridge

On Wednesday July 3, Joe Stavish of Tree Pittsburgh saw an immature peregrine standing on a rock pile in Tree Pittsburgh‘s parking lot below the 62nd Street Bridge. Joe emailed me:

I found an immature peregrine in the parking lot at Tree Pittsburgh (under 62nd street bridge) on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. We have noticed [peregrine] adults flying around the tree nursery this spring. This one was a bit clumsy moving around the rock pile but ultimately flew off. I could not see any band on the legs. Not sure if it came from the 62nd street bridge but perhaps!

Joe Stavish email, 5 July 2019

Here’s a Google Street View of that end of 62nd Street. Tree Pittsburgh is beyond the chain link fence on the left side of the image, though it didn’t exist when Google took this photo.

At this point (early/mid July) it’s too late to find the peregrines’ nest but keep an eye out for them beginning next January at the 62nd Street Bridge.

NOTE! A nestbox was installed on the bridge in January 2008. If it’s still on the bridge the peregrines might be using it.

In January 2008 a nestbox was installed at the 62nd Street Bridge (photo from PGC). Is the nestbox still there?

Downtown Peregrine News, June 28

Immature Downtown peregrine, nanotagged with MOTUS tracking, at USX Tower window on 19 June 2019 (photo by Jason Walkowski)

A lot has happened in the Downtown peregrine family since I left for vacation on June 12. Here’s a summary of the last 17 days with photos from Jason Walkowski, Maria Ochoa, Lori Maggio, and John English.

There were five nestlings at the Third Avenue nest and at least five rescues.

  1. June 8: Rescue from Third Ave.
  2. June 9: Rescue after found standing on a car roof on the Boulevard of the Allies.
  3. June 10: Rescue at 304 Wood Street. The PA Game Commission banded and nanotagged this bird for MOTUS tracking.
  4. June 12: Rescue from a Point Park shuttle bus shelter.
  5. June 12: Second in one day! Rescue from Dollar Bank front steps on Fourth Ave during evening rush hour.

All of this activity kept the rescue porch very busy. Below, Louie reflects from the rescue porch railing outside Maria Ochoa’s apartment on June 11 …

Louie reflects at the Rescue Porch, 11 June 2019 (photo by Maria Ochoa)

… while Dori bypasses loud whining from one of the fledglings.

Dori flies away from a whining fledgling at the Rescue Porch, 11 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

On June 12 this bird was a candidate for the fifth rescue, having chosen a lousy place to perch on the Dollar Bank roof.

Candidate for later rescue at Dollar Bank, 12 June 2019 (photo by John English)

Within a week the young peregrines were flying well. On June 14 Lori Maggio watched a low-perched youngster fly up to a much better location. On June 19 Jason Walkowski photographed the nanotagged bird outside his window on the 31st floor at USX Tower (photo at top).

Youngster lands on the Engineering Building, much higher than his previous perch, 14 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Lori Maggio found the nanotagged bird on June 20, perched with a sibling high above Third Avenue.

Two youngsters perch high above the old nest, 20 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Dori is now teaching the youngsters how to hunt. Her mate Louie, age 17, was found dead on June 27. He was very, very old for a wild peregrine and outlived his mother Dorothy by 1.5 years. I’ll post a tribute blog for Louie in the coming days.

Louie at Lawrence Hall, 20 May 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

For now the Fledge Watchers are breathing a sigh of relief. The Downtown peregrine “kids” are airborne on their way. Whew!

(photos by Jason Walkowski, Maria Ochoa, Lori Maggio and John English)

All Five Have Flown

Dori perched on the shield at 3rd & Wood (photo by Lori Maggio)
Dori perched on the shield at 3rd & Wood (photo by Lori Maggio)

As of 8:25am this morning, 12 June 2019, Lori Maggio reports that the peregrine nest at Third Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh looks empty. She found 4 of the 5 youngsters and — great news! — the one on the Rescue Porch this morning has a MOTUS nanotag so we’ll know where he goes!

The tagged bird is probably the one rescued from 304 Wood Street on Monday. Because he’s tagged & returned we know he isn’t injured.

Thankfully everyone waited for the Game Warden to arrive & rescue the bird. Thanks to MOTUS we will know where he goes. Click here to read more about the nanotags.

(photo by Lori Maggio)

UPDATE at 11:15a, 12 June 2019 (while I wait in an airport): 4th bird found down in a bus shelter on Boulevard of Allies & taken to Rescue Porch at 11:10am on 12 June 2019.

Fledgling Rescue #4 at the bus stop (photo by Amanda Anderson)

UPDATE at 5:15p, 12 June 2019: 5th downed peregrine found standing on Dollar Back steps on Third Avenue. PGC called to rescue. I’m waiting to hear if this one gets nanotagged.

So as of 13 June 2019 there have been 5 rescues of 5 birds. They could still land on the street so keep an eye out for downed peregrines in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Three Down, Two to Go

Two chicks hadn’t flown yet, 10 June 2019, noon (photo by John English)

Tomorrow I’m leaving town on a two-week birding trip so here’s the latest Downtown peregrine news just before I go.

3 fledged, down, and rescued. 2 to go. As of Monday 11 June at 5pm, three of the five nestlings have flown, but all of them landed on the ground and had to be rescued. Frankly, this site is way too low for a peregrine nest. The rescues were …

Saturday 8 June, 2:15pm

Fledgling #1 on the Rescue Porch, 8 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Fledgling #1 flew from the nest and eventually landed on Third Avenue. Retrieved by Animal Control, the bird was returned to Downtown Pittsburgh by Deputy Game Warden Bob Fickley and placed on the Rescue Porch. As of noon on Monday June 10 this bird was flying from rooftop to rooftop. More info and photos of him here.

Sunday 9 June, 8:30pm

Fledgling #2 at Lawrence Hall, 9 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Fledgling #2 left the nest and made it to the Boulevard of the Allies where he was found standing on the roof of a car at 8:30pm. The owners of the car wanted to leave but the bird just stood there. Point Park Police corralled the bird and placed him on the Rescue Porch. Thank you, Point Park Police!

Monday 10 June, 4:30pm (At Fledge Watch we saw 4 peregrines including the adults but couldn’t find Fledgling #3.)

Louie watching two chicks at the nest, 10 June 2019 (photo by John English)

Early Monday morning Lori Maggio saw Fledgling #3 on the third floor ledge of Lawrence Hall but he wasn’t seen again until evening rush hour, standing near the bus lane at 304 Wood Street. The PA Game Commission dispatched an officer at 4:24p. Meanwhile the bird attracted a crowd. Volunteer Michael Leonard guarded the bird until Deputy Game Warden Jonah Thompson arrived. Thank you, Michael!!

There are two more to go and some may need to be rescued multiple times. Keep an eye out in Downtown Pittsburgh and call the PA Game Commission at 724-238-9523 if you find a peregrine on the ground. Corral the bird and wait patiently until the officer arrives.

By the way, it is really important that the PGC retrieves these young peregrines. If they are healthy PGC will fit the bird with a MOTUS nanotag and we’ll find out where they go. Read more here.

Dori and Louie confirmed in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Dori on the green bar, 20 May 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Lori Maggio’s photos have confirmed that the adult peregrines at this site are still Dori and Louie.

Dori’s bands were confirmed by photos on June 9 and May 20. Dori’s bands are black/green M/93.

Dori’s bands, 20 May 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Louie’s bands were confirmed on Sunday June 9 while he was feeding a fledgling on Lawrence Hall.

Louie feeds a fledgling on Lawrence Hall, 9 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)
Closeup of Louie’s black/green band with sideways 4 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Bands with sideways numbers are more than a decade old so a single sideways 4, above, is enough to know it’s Louie. He’s black/green 4*/E*.

Louie is 17 years old — very old for a wild peregrine falcon. He must have inherited his longevity from his mother Dorothy who lived to be 16 at the Cathedral of Learning.

UPDATE AT NOON, 11 June 2019: 4 have fledged, 1 still at nest.

(photos by John English and Lori Maggio)

One Fledged, FOUR To Go

First fledgling at the Rescue Porch, Downtown Pittsburgh, 8 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Since May we thought there were four chicks at the Downtown peregrine nest on Third Avenue. We’ve counted them several times and several ways but we were fooled. Yesterday we found out there are five!

On Saturday morning the first chick flew from the nest and eventually landed on Third Avenue. A passerby called Pittsburgh Animal Control … who took the bird to a rehabber … who confirmed he had no injuries and called the Game Commission. Deputy Game Warden Bob Fickley retrieved the fledgling from the rehabber, took the bird back Downtown, and placed him on the Rescue Porch. (Thank you, Bob Fickley!) By the time the bird got home he’d been to the suburbs and back.

Peregrine fledglings who land on the ground must be placed up high to start over. The Third Avenue fledglings go to the Rescue Porch because (1) the nest is inaccessible, (2) the porch is as close as we can get to the nest — across the street and within sight of it, and (3) the porch is a better place to start over because it’s 70 feet higher than the nest. Sometimes the parents perch on the railing to watch the nest. They definitely notice when a fledgling is there.

At 2:30p Lori Maggio stopped by Third Avenue and found the fledgling perched on the railing (photo above). Then she went to Mt. Washington to take long distance photos of the bird on the railing and the remaining chicks at the nest.

I arrived at 5pm and expected to see 1 bird on the porch (yes) and 3 birds at the nest opening but I counted four. 1 + 4 = 5!

Lori’s photos also show one on the Rescue Porch and …

One peregrine fledgling on the Rescue Porch as seen from Mt .Washington, 8 June 2019 around 3pm (photo by Lori Maggio)

… four at the nest.

Four chicks at the peregrine nest as seen from Mt. Washington, 8 June 2019 around 3pm (photo by Lori Maggio)

Oh my! It’s going to be a busy week.

(photos by Lori Maggio)

June 7 News From Downtown

Four peregrine nestlings visible Downtown, 7 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Yesterday during Downtown Fledge Watch all four peregrine chicks lined up at the nest opening. One of their parents was visible so they whined … of course!

Whining loudly (photo by Lori Maggio)

The adult (we think it was Dori) stopped by for a visit. Lori Maggio captured her leaving the nest.

Where did she go?

A moment at Fledge Watch on Third Avenue, 7 June 2019 (photo by John English)

She was high atop Oxford Center, just out of sight of the nest ledge. No more whining.

On top of Oxford Center (photo by John English)

Stop by Third Avenue any time to watch the peregrines. We expect them to fledge in the next week, June 8-15.

If a juvenile lands on the ground during its first day of flight (normal at this site, unfortunately) it will just stand there and attract a crowd. Keep an eye out for a juvenile on the ground, usually in the vicinity of Wood St – Third Ave – Smithfield St – Blvd of Allies – Fourth Ave. 

UPDATE, Sat June 8, 2:15pm: The first fledgling landed on the ground. It’s healthy and in good condition so Deputy Game Warden Bob Fickley placed it on the Rescue Porch at Lawrence Hall.

If you find a downed peregrine call the PA Game Commission at 724-238-9523 so they can come rescue the bird and put it up high to start over.

Official Fledge Watch continues and is weather dependent. You can show up anytime on your own.

Download the flyer here.

Download the Flyer here

(photos by Lori Maggio and John English)

Downtown and Tarentum

Three of four peregrine chicks at the Downtown Pittsburgh nest, 6 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Downtown Pittsburgh’s four young peregrines are getting ready to fledge. Here’s what three of them looked like yesterday when Lori Maggio stopped by. One of the adults watched from above on the Lawrence Hall gargoyle.

Adult peregrine near the Downtown nest, 6 June 2019 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Join us today, 7 June 2019, noon-1p, at Downtown Pittsburgh Peregrine Fledge Watch. We’ll be on Third Avenue between Wood & Smithfield. Click here for more information.

Tarentum Bridge, Allegheny River

Peregrines at Tarentum Bridge, 6 June 2019 (photo by Dave Brooke)

The Tarentum Bridge peregrines have three very active chicks this week, walking and wing-exercising on the bridge pier.

Susan Krouse, who watches them often, writes: “I first saw a chick standing on the front ledge of the nestbox on Sunday June 2. Then on Monday morning June 3 I saw two outside it, one near the box opening and one on the middle of the pier, far from the box. I eventually saw 3 chicks all outside the box. These 3 are exploring out on the pier more each day. There’s also a significant amount of wingercise….wing spans seem huge!

Dave Brooke stopped by last evening to photograph them. Their mother paused with the chicks, below. (You can recognize the mother because her breast is very spotted.)

Three peregrine chicks with adult at Tarentum Bridge, 6 June 2019 (photo by Dave Brooke)
Peregrine chicks at Tarentum Bridge, 6 June 2019 (photo by Dave Brooke)

The Tarentum nestlings will fledge around June 15. For best looks, visit the Tarentum Boat Launch while they’re still in sight before they fledge. Click here for a map.

(photos credits: Downtown Pittsburgh by Lori Maggio, Tarentum by Dave Brooke)

Downtown Peregrine Fledge Watch starts Jun 7

Fledge watchers Downtown at Third Ave, 7 June 2016 (photo by John English)
Fledge watchers Downtown at Third Ave, 7 June 2016 (photo by John English)

Downtown Pittsburgh Fledge Watch begins Friday June 7, noon to 1pm.

The four peregrine nestlings on Third Avenue will fly soon and may need our help. I’ll be Downtown at lunchtime on three weekdays beginning this Friday June 7. Stop by and join me.

What: Downtown Peregrine Fledge Watch is a drop-in event to watch the young Downtown peregrines, educate the public about peregrines, and alert the PA Game Commission at 724-238-9523 if a fledgling needs to be rescued from the ground. Come when you can. Bring binoculars or camera if you have them. Be sure to check the blog for updates in case of weather cancellation.

Where: 3rd Avenue between Wood and Smithfield in Downtown Pittsburgh, approximately at 341 Third Ave, which is parking lot. Click the link for a map.
When: On weekdays, Fri June 7, noon-1p. Mon-Tues June 10-11, 11a-1p.
Who: I’ll be there with John English of Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook group.
Notes: There is no official Fledge Watch on June 8-9 weekend but John and/or I may be there. On-street parking is free on Sundays. (Some streets will be closed on Sunday 9 June for the Pride Parade.)

Keep in mind that Fledge Watch is weather dependent. It will be canceled for rain or thunder.

Do you need a reminder of the PA Game Commission phone number? Click on the flyer below to download one for yourself.

Click here to download the flyer