May 15 2009
Some time between June 2nd and 6th the peregrine falcon nestlings at the University of Pittsburgh will take their first flight. If I’m lucky, I’ll be there to see it. Perhaps you will be too.
Fledging is one of the most dangerous times for a young peregrine. He has never flown before and must learn on the first try how to steer and land. His nest is several hundred feet up so he has a lot of air space, but he has to stay high because he doesn’t yet have the wing strength to rise from the ground. If he lands on the ground that first day, he just stands there. If he’s in the street he could be killed by a car.
In the early days of the Peregrine Recovery Program (1990’s) volunteers organized Fledge Watches at urban nest sites to monitor the fledglings and return them to the heights if they landed on the ground. Since that time adult peregrines have adapted to urban sites and seem to be teaching their offspring to stay high.
There are fewer fledging accidents at the established sites and peregrines aren’t so rare any more, so the remaining Fledge Watches have morphed into social occasions and an opportunity to see peregrines do exciting things … which is why I plan to be at Schenley Plaza before and after work on June 2-5 and on the morning of Sat June 6th – weather permitting.
You’re welcome to join me. I’ll post more details as the time approaches. Save the Date.
(photo of a fledgling peregrine falcon by Kim Steininger)