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 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.
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 picked up the prey and delivered it to the fledgling.
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.
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
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
Lori Maggio visited Third Avenue around 8am on 27 June and saw three peregrines: Dori, Terzo and a fledgling. Read more here.
Eckert Street / McKees Rocks Bridge area, Ohio River
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.
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.
Westinghouse Bridge, Turtle Creek
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
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.
The fledgling walked behind Don’s Diner and jumped up to the highest spot she could find, two feet off the ground.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Young peregrine contemplates his next move, Westinghouse Bridge, 5 June 2022 (photo by Dana Nesiti)
Mom sees that youngster landed safely, Westinghouse Bridge, 5 June 2022 (photo by Dana Nesiti)
And what is “fleeping?” Looks like “fly-leaping” to me.
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)
(photo by John English, annotated)
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)
(photo by John English, annotated)
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)
Morela, plus a juvie in the keyhole, 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)!
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
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
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
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)
Quench towers at Clairton Coke Works (photo by Mark Dixon) [arrow added]
Peregrines at Clairton Coke Works (photos by Dana Nesiti)
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
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.
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.
Two in the nest, 12:06p
Yellow Girl is in the keyhole, 12:12
Red Boy begins to make his move, 12:26p
He leans down...
Gets ready to jump
And he goes, 12:28pm
Red Boy and Yellow Girl snooze in the gully, 1:04pm
Silver Girl looks silly
She calls to Morela, 3:38pm
Morela shows food to entice Red Boy, 3:39pm
Silver Girl isn't hungry ...
... but Red Boy is. He arrives, shouting, 3:45pm
Red Boy flaps into the nest
And he's back! 3:45pm
Mission accomplished, Morela departs, 3:46pm
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.)
Morela feeds Rey Boy, 5:36pm
Yellow Girl jumps on the green perch, shouting, 5:37pm (at right)
Yellow Girl leaps toward the food
She dives at the food in Morela's talons
Yanks the food away
and mantles over the prey
This morning all three chicks are in the nest but two have already ledge walked and now have the confidence to explore.