May 26 2009

4 Peregrine chicks banded at University of Pittsburgh

Published by at 4:02 pm under Nesting & Courtship,Peregrines

Beth Fife holds a peregrine chick at University of Pittsburgh (photo by Kate St. John)Yes, today was Banding Day.  Those of you watching the University of Pittsburgh falconcam this morning noticed the chicks were missing between 9:00 and 10:00am.  

Even before the event got underway Dorothy knew something was up.  She stood guard from the top of the webcam and waited to attack.  This is the eighth time her chicks have been banded but she never likes it. 

When the PA Game Commission’s Beth Fife, Doug Dunkerley and Tammy Colt went out on the ledge, Dorothy flew at them, then spread her wings to put up a fight.  She landed on the nest to protect her babies but she was captured and brought in anyway. 

Her chicks were weighed and banded – 3 girls and 1 boy – and given complete health checks.  Dorothy got an abbreviated health check too.  All are fine. 

The rain held off until it was time to return the chicks to the nest and then it poured.  Beth dropped off the chicks who quickly huddled and screamed for their parents.  Then Beth released Dorothy and she flew to the chicks immediately.  I imagine Dorothy counted heads and found four healthy screamers.  She told them to keep quiet, then leapt to the ramparts to continue her vigil. 

Interestingly E2 was not present the entire time.  This is normal for him and used to be normal for Louie, his father.  I was surprised to see Louie so close during the banding at Gulf Tower last week.  Maybe E2 will come closer some day.

Soon the chicks calmed down and fell asleep at the back of the box.  This morning’s excitement and the gray, wet weather made them very sleepy.  They’re also sleepy because they’re growing fast.  At this stage their brown feathers are coming in and they’re losing their white down.  Today’s handling caused their down to come lose and float around us at the banding. 

And have you noticed the other benefits of the banding?   Beth cleaned the nest and the webcam cover.  Yow!  What a mess it was!  Dorothy should be glad she has a cleaning service.    ;) 

(photo of WCO Beth Fife holding one of Dorothy and E2’s nestlings at Pitt.  The photo was taken with my cell phone.  Sorry for the poor picture quality, folks!)

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “4 Peregrine chicks banded at University of Pittsburgh”

  1. Mary Ann Pikeon 26 May 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Have you finally figured out who E2 is then? This post sounds like he’s an offspring of the Gulf tower birds. From what I can remember seeing in the posts from last year, no one had been able to read his bands and you didn’t know where he was from.

  2. Patsyon 26 May 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks to Beth for the “nest cleaning”. It really was a mess.

  3. Kate St. Johnon 26 May 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Yes, we figured out his identity last July. See http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2008/07/14/male-peregrine-at-pitt-identified/

  4. Jon 26 May 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I’m watching the Gulf Tower chicks and they are a rambunctuous duo. When I tuned in, I discovered that one of the ckicks (the one with less down) had managed to hop on on the concrete ledge to the right of the nest box while her sister was running aroun the nest box repeatedly stretching her wings apparently trying to figure out how to get up to there. At one point she even spread her wings and jumped into the air. Then the one on the ledge hopped down and ran to the left edge of the nest box. I came to check the blog for a moment and when I went back to the Gulf Tower cam, the one that was on the left edge was out of site so I don’t know where she went to. Guess she’s off exploring the ledges around their nest. Those to seem to be eager to fly away and explore.

  5. Joann Lordon 26 May 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I saw that Dorothy’s nest was clean when i went online around 2 pm this afternoon. It’s now 6:45 pm & I guess you could say it was nice while it lasted-there are now feathers all over the nest again from a late lunch or early dinner. I do see that they all look like they have lost most of the white “down” so I guess they should be ready to try their wings in a week or so. I do find the Gulf Tower chicks more interesting as they explore(even though they have given me a few “heart attacks” over their exploring of the nest & going out on the ledge. They seem to be more active(for want of a better word) than Dorothy’s.

  6. Kristenon 26 May 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Ahh they do grow so quickly. I must say that the half-down, half-adult-feathers look is quite comical!

  7. Janet Christensenon 27 May 2009 at 9:02 am

    Kate, are there any more pictures of the banding at the Cathedral site? I really enjoyed looking at the ones from the Gulf Building. Thanks. Jan

  8. Joannon 27 May 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I’m just curious how do the chicks know when it is okay to take flight? I see that one of the chicks in Tasha’s nest has lost the majority of the white down & seems to be ready to try to fly but how do they just know when the time is now or right?

  9. Donnaon 27 May 2009 at 1:06 pm

    The banding in Harrisburg is being shown on the internet:
    http://www.dgsweb.state.pa.us/CMSUploads/live/livefalcon.asx

  10. Bonnie Jeanneon 27 May 2009 at 4:28 pm

    O man, that chick looks like s/he is frowning. So cute, though!

  11. gloriaon 27 May 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I guess I am just missing it the last couple of days. Haven’t seen either of the parents at the GT just the kids with their antics… Have seen the parents at the COL come in for feedings, but not at the GT.
    Does anyone know where the plank in the front of the nest box goes to? One of Tasha’s kids are now crossing that plant in the front of the box (out of the camera’s view). The kid with almost all the adult feathers looks like he or she is ready to take off any minute.

  12. gloriaon 27 May 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Wrote too soon… one of the parents flew in with dinner….

  13. Kate St. Johnon 27 May 2009 at 4:54 pm

    At Gulf Tower the plank goes down to a lower level. They walk up and down the plank during their ledge-walking phase. You can’t see it on the left of the camera view but there’s also a place for them to perch that they jump up to.

  14. Donnaon 27 May 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Watching the banding in Harrisburg via the webcast, it was interesting to note that when they remove the chicks for banding, they immediately return one to the nest. It was mentioned that this helps keep the parents calm, because they can’t count how many chicks are in the nest. Maybe this technique can be used next year in Pittsburgh.

  15. gloriaon 27 May 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Kate: Thanks for the explanation. It would be great to be able to see everything the youngsters do… they are really amazing!!!! The interaction between the kids… and the way they relate to the parents… it is way too amazing…. I am so hooked, it is unbelievable. Thanks for all you do!
    Glad to hear you spotted the budgie this am…hopefully the season will be kind and he/she will know what to do when the cooler weather sets in…. hope things work out for him/her. Hope you will keep us posted.
    Gloria

  16. Kate St. Johnon 27 May 2009 at 9:23 pm

    In Pittsburgh the ledges are dangerous/long enough that it’s too risky to return the chicks one at a time. Perhaps in Harrisburg they can just hand them out a window – I don’t know.
    Peregrines can’t count? I believe they know which of their kids are missing but they may calm down sooner because when one comes back they see that they haven’t lost the entire family.

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