Around the world, more and more of us are under Stay At Home orders to stop the spread of COVID-19. Yesterday Governor Wolf announced that eight PA counties — 45% of Pennsylvanians — must Stay At Home through 6 April. Fortunately residents are permitted to “engage in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing” — i.e. stay at least 6 feet apart.
So I’ve been going outdoors alone … especially when the weather is drizzly, cold or gray because no one else is out there. I’ve seen lots of birds including red-winged blackbirds, hundreds of American robins, eastern phoebes, a brown-headed cowbird, a golden-crowned kinglet and a merlin(!) in Schenley Park.
I’ve also photographed some signs of spring, 18-24 March 2020. Flowers are blooming in Greenfield’s neighborhood gardens, above and below.
The earliest trees are beginning to leaf out including the bottlebrush buckeyes (Aesculus parviflora) in Schenley Park.
Cornelian cherry trees (Cornus mas) are in bloom at Schenley. Photos of the whole tree and a blossom closeup.
Yet the rest of the forest is still quite brown. The smaller American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) stand out with dry pale leaves. Photo from afar and a close-up.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spring is coming ready or not. Take a breather from COVID-19 news with some signs of spring. My friends and I have gone outdoors alone, then emailed updates and photos when we get home. Here’s what we’ve found.
Yesterday Donna Foyle found snow trillium and scarlet cup mushrooms at Cedar Creek Park in Westmoreland County.
I’ve been to Schenley Park, Raccoon Creek, and Moraine State Parks where I’ve seen daffodils, coltsfoot, alder catkins, red maple flowers, and spring beauties. See the captions for descriptions, locations, and dates.
And finally, an audio treat. Wood frogs and spring peepers were calling at Moraine State Park on Sunday afternoon 15 March 2020.
Getting outdoors is not cancelled!
Just maintain a safe distance from each other (6 feet) and wear muck boots. It’s mud season.
Around the world the COVID-19 emergency is forcing rapid changes to human society. In Pennsylvania nearly everything is closed; crowds of any kind are prohibited. If we go out at all, we must stay away from others and maintain a safe social distance (six feet). We cannot afford to spread this illness. The number of infections blows up like a bomb.
Birds don’t need to care about the disease — they won’t catch it — but these photos can illustrate social distancing.
Above, two saffron finches display a proper distance.
Below, the pigeons are WRONG! The group is small but they’re too close.
The flock below is spawning a local epidemic. This crowd is NOT ALLOWED. It’s a petri dish of infection waiting to explode in 9-10 days.
In case you don’t believe this is necessary, here’s a message for us from Italy, sent on 15 March 2020. They know what happens if you don’t stay away from each other BEFORE the need is apparent. On 15 March: “It is believed that the US, England and France are 9-10 days behind Italy in COVID-19 progression.”
9-10 days is next week, 24 or 25 March 2020. That’s why things are closed!
It’s like living in a war zone, but there is hope. Italians are singing from their balconies to keep their spirits up and the Chinese are sending encouragement.
Stay strong. Stay well. Stay apart. Stay home.
This too shall pass.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons, videos from YouTube; click the captions or YouTube links to see the originals)
p.s. Birding alone in the woods is a safe social distance, but don’t count on finding a bathroom!