May 09 2008

Messy nest!

Dorothy gives up on housekeeping.  Peregrine falcon nest, University of Pittsburgh, May 8, 2008I’ve watched the peregrines at University of Pittsburgh for many years and have learned something about Dorothy, the falcon who nests there: she is not the best of housekeepers. When she has chicks to feed, cleaning her nest is a low priority.

This trait is individual to Dorothy’s “personality.” If you observe other peregrine nests on webcams, you’ll see that the gravel is usually pretty tidy.

Until yesterday I had hopes Dorothy had changed her ways. Perhaps E2 was having a positive influence. As recently as Wednesday evening the gravel was clean (see photo, top right).

Not so on Thursday! It rained all day and Dorothy gave up. In the second photo the nest is carpeted in prey feathers and the chicks are surrounded by a mess. As my friend Kate says, “Well, that’s what happens when you have young kids.”

Beth Fife of the Pennsylvania Game Commission will have her work cut out for her when she comes to band the chicks this spring. Every year Beth not only has to collect the chicks while Dorothy attacks, but she must drag a garbage bag out on the ledge and clean Dorothy’s nest.

For now, it looks like another messy year. Perhaps Dorothy thinks that Beth provides room service. (NOT!)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Messy nest!”

  1. Shannon Platton 09 May 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I was taking a look at the two webcams tonight just after you posted this, and you can see a difference in housekeeping between Tasha 2 and Dorothy. At Tasha 2′s nest, you can barely see a feather unless you look very hard. With Dorothy, it looks like a pigeon just exploded in the nest.

  2. Libby Strizzion 10 May 2008 at 11:34 am

    Messy Dorothy, funny stuff.
    Kate, a question — what’s to prevent something from swooping in & grabbing one of those little guys for a quick snack? I presume one of the parents must be keeping an “peregrine” eye out for such an invader — is one parent always real close by?

  3. Kate StJon 10 May 2008 at 8:53 pm

    The parents are quite close, but not in camera view. There are many nearby perches: the nestbox roof, the bulwark opposite the nest (Karen and I call it the nestrail), the architectural keyhole opposite the front perch, many perches on the building within earshot that are just around the corner or just above the nestbox.
    Peregrine parents are quite vigilant.

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