Jun 06 2009

Update on Fledge Watch at Pitt

Published by at 12:59 pm under Peregrines

Midday Saturday, Jun 6:  Six of us watched this morning but nothing exciting happened.  It was foggy until 8:45am and boring by noon because…

The male chick who fledged yesterday perched on 38th floor east.  His parents brought him a nice meal and he went to sleep. 

The three sisters were on & off the nestrail and flapped a little but only got a tidbit.  Dorothy and E2 were not feeding them much, so they whined and whined about food but they didn’t fly.  Instead they went to sleep. 

We did get to see Dorothy warn away a kettle of vultures, but that was all that happened between 11:00 and noon.  It was like watching water boil.

Sunday late afternoon, Jun 7:  I stopped by at 4:00pm and still nothing had happened.  Three peregrine chicks on the nestrail and one on the roof.

Sunday night:  I wasn’t at the tent but others were there.  See many comments below.  Another one fledged.

Monday morning, Jun 8:  A third peregrine chick has fledged.  They are getting harder to keep track of because they can be anywhere now.

15 responses so far

15 Responses to “Update on Fledge Watch at Pitt”

  1. Patsyon 06 Jun 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Kate, I’m trying to get my bearings here regarding where, on the Cathedral, the nestrail, nest, etc. may be. I was down at Schenley Plaza yesterday(Friday) afternoon between 11:30 and 12:30 and was sitting on one of the park benches looking across the street at the Cathedral. Did see the young male perched, first on the stone peak, and then I do believe it went to the lightening rod. Is the nest, nestrail, on the side of the Cathedral facing the plaza? Was never able to see the other chicks on the nestrail and was thinking perhaps I was not looking in the appropriate spot.

  2. Kate St. Johnon 06 Jun 2009 at 2:16 pm

    The nest, nestrail, etc is on the same side of the building as Schenley Plaza and is nearly at the top of the building. I find it easier on my neck to sit at the tent rather than the benches near Forbes Ave. I will put a description in the Peregrine FAQs at: http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/peregrine-faqs/

  3. Patsyon 06 Jun 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I know what you mean about the neck issue. Felt mine tightening up a couple of times yesterday. Will try the tent next time I get down. Thanks also for the information.

  4. Leslieon 06 Jun 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Kettle of vultures, watching water boil-clever and funny, Kate!
    Empty nest syndrome starting to set in watching both cams. Do they ever come back to the scrape for old time’s sake? It looked like at least a couple slept at COL last night.

  5. faith Cornellon 07 Jun 2009 at 6:21 am

    Sun AM 6/7 6:20: Off to church, but see feet perching at GT but COL abandoned. So hopefully everyone is flying & eating and doing well. These birds seem to be wonderful parents so hopefully once the young ones start adventuring out we’ll see one in Bridgeville. I know we saw once last year in July or August. Thanks again for your educational information and I enjoy all the lovely pictures you show us of the flowers & plants. Faith C.

  6. Tracion 07 Jun 2009 at 7:04 pm

    alert!! 7pm!!! We believe a female fledge has flown and definately a fledge has landed on the 15th floor roof ledge!! Should we be alarmed???? She seemed to drop altitude and flapped a lot!!
    We ask: Kate Where are you????? Should we be concerned and watch out for her???

  7. Tracion 07 Jun 2009 at 9:39 pm

    What a night. At first, nothing happening – then a relative explosion of activity! culminating in the most dramatic flights just as we were leaving. Four of us were at the base of the COL when apparently the female, who had gotten off the 15th floor, tried to fly her way back to the nest. What drama!! She would miss, seem to slip down the face of the building, then sorta launch herself midair, and try again and again and again. She was hidden in architectural detail at one point. Then she launched from there and made it to the top – where we lost sight of her. At least I did, as my child had had enough.

    Oh, and I missed the dropped food – which I’m hoping someone else will blog about! But I did see a parent feeding the male juvenile mid-air!!

    Now I see two birds in the nest. I suspect the female juvenile and the male juvenile are out on the building somewhere. What a night. All that worry and she survived :)

  8. Kate St. Johnon 07 Jun 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Sounds like an exciting time. As long as she doesn’t land on the ground she’s just fine & no need to worry. Call Pitt Security if you find a peregrine chick standing on the ground. They know how to get in touch with the Game Commission day or night.

  9. Miloson 07 Jun 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Hi Kate,

    we had a lot of action this evening. Everyone (at one point there was nine of us, if I’m not mistaken) was really sorry you weren’t there, both because it was very exciting (I’m sure you’d appreciate it a lot) and because we could’ve used an experienced peregrine-watcher to solve our identification-related problems.

    Big news, of course, is that one of the girls fledged, too!

    So, here’s a play-by-play summary of tonight’s events, according to the notes I was taking on the spot.

    6:00 one of the juveniles is chasing one of the adults above the Cathedral; there’s some screaming, food-begging I guess, although the parent’s talons seem to be empty. At one point, the two birds get really close to one another in mid-air, and switch flight directions rapidly, after a near-collision (I’m sure at least one of them knew what (s)he was doing). The parent leaves, and the juvenile bird lands some 10 floors below the nest, on the southeast side of the Cathedral. The three girls are on their usual spot on the nestrail, doing their wind-flapping, nestrail-walking routine.

    6:15 now there are two birds on that spot on the southeast side! It is hard to tell if what we’re seeing is a juv. with an adult, or maybe two juv. birds? At this point only two birds are visible on the nestrail – did one of them jump back into the nest and out of sight, or maybe somehow flew down to the southeast spot without us noticing?

    6:25 one of the birds from the southeast spot takes off, circles a bit – and does that so well that we conclude it must be one of the parents – and then lands on the very top of the Cathedral, on the southeast side again. However, once we get to observe the bird’s behavior up there, we conclude that it must be the baby boy, actually – he’s spreading his wings and walking around all hunched; indicating, I guess, it is a juvenile bird; the accomplished gliding flight to the top of the Cathedral, without much wind-flapping suggests it’s the boy – it’s highly doubtful one of the girls would be able to fly that well today.

    6:45 A parent arrives and lands on the antenna.

    6:50 Another parent shows up, but we’re not sure where from – is it the other bird we saw at 6:15 on the southeast side, or did it arrive from somewhere else? – and the baby boy immediately starts the chase. I’m pretty sure the parent is significantly larger than the juvenile, so I think that’s the baby boy chasing Dorothy. They make couple of circles, no food is exchanged, and the juv. lands on the southeast spot. Dorothy leaves.

    6:54 Now the really exciting stuff starts to happen. A bird takes off from the southeast spot, starts circling (with a LOT of wing-flapping), losing height, then tries to gain height again by flapping frantically, and finally lands on the 16th (at least I think it’s 16th) floor terrace (on the south face of the Cathedral). A couple of minutes later, the bird appears on the railing. We are almost certain that this is on of the girls. Here’s why. Since 6:15 there were only two birds on the nestrail; also, the bird on the 16th floor had a lot of trouble flying around the Cathedral, and it does seem that the boy would be more capable of gaining height. That’s not conclusive, of course, and we can’t account for each bird’s whereabouts at every given moment, but I do think we witnessed one of girls’ first flight. (At this point we got really worried about the juvenile bird (hence Traci’s 7:04 comment) since we weren’t sure if she can get back to the nest. On the other hand, the parent sitting on the antenna didn’t seem to mind seeing one of the kids ledge-walking that low, and that surely meant the situation was not as serious as we thought it was at first)

    7:20 the parent abandons the antenna and disappears.

    7:32 The bird from the 16th floor takes off and flies westward around the Cathedral and out of our sight, not showing up on the east side.

    7:38 A parent appears with food and brings it to the nestrail. One of the girls approaches and we can tell that’s E2 who came, as the size difference becomes obvious. Just as the juvenile bird approaches him, E2 accidentally drops the food, and then stoops down all the way to the highest terrace on the Cathedral’s south side (30th floor?) to pick it up. But all of a sudden another bird follows him down to the food – and this one is not stooping or anything, just flapping its wings as fast as possible and slowly approaching E2. The boy? I think so. He must have landed somewhere near the top of the Cathedral again and then spotted his father’s clumsy prey-handling (or was that a lesson he was teaching them? “here’s how important it is for you girls to learn how to do this flying thing your brother has mastered”); the two girls on the nestrail despairingly look on as their brother gets to eat what was supposed to be their dinner…

    7:45 The male juvenile flies to his favorite spot on the southeast, and a minute later flies up to the nest, landing right above those windows behind the nest. We’re now sure that’s him, since he appears to be smaller than the two birds on the nestrail.

    8:10-8:14 one of the parents circles above the Cathedral

    8:15 a juvenile bird appears, starts making circles (a lot of wind-flapping, again) tries to reach the nest, but only manages to land one floor below it, on an ornament within the arch that can be seen right below the nest.

    8:19 the bird (juvenile female, I believe) makes another attempt to reach the nest. She makes several circles, tries to flap her way up to the nest, but appears to lose a lot of energy and almost hits the wall with no safe landing to be found; she slides down the facade, then starts flapping again, circling, trying to gain height, but again doesn’t manage to land. The third attempt is finally successful – sort of – as she lands on an AC box outside of a window on what I believe is 28th floor.

    8:24 apparently not too worried about its newly-fledged kid’s troubles, one of the parents climbs back to the antenna.

    This is when we had to leave, reluctantly. I hope they’re all safe, and I’m looking forward to seeing them all fledge and learn to fly well in the coming days.

    Oh, and I saw one more interesting thing. On the east side of the cathedral, there’s a terrace on the 11th floor. On the southeast corner, at the spot where the guardrail meets the facade, there’s a dead Starling lying on its back. It somehow seems unlikely that the bird just died there – is it possible that the peregrines have caught the Starling and then left it stashed there for later? I wonder if it will be there tomorrow…

    (Now that my comment grew this long, I hope I will be allowed to add something not directly related to “our” Peregrines. I would love to recommend the documentary film “Home” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand to all nature enthusiast who visit Kate’s blog. It can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU
    It is both visually wonderful and thought provoking. Definitely worth an hour and a half of anyone’s time.)

  10. Rosieon 08 Jun 2009 at 8:02 am

    Wow Milos! Thanks for the detailed report. Almost felt like I was there. Such excitement. Glad so many of you were able to enjoy the happenings.

  11. Kate St. Johnon 08 Jun 2009 at 8:42 am

    Monday morning, June 8: Three of the four have fledged. Only one on the nestrail this morning.

  12. gloriaon 08 Jun 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Just checked the nest at COL and one lone nestling is there squaking for food (I guess) it’s 3:25 pm. No one else in sight.

  13. Tracion 08 Jun 2009 at 4:39 pm

    She’s been there most of the day it would seem. At least everytime I checked, one was in there. A couple of times today, there were two. The last one just isn’t ready to go yet – I guess :)

  14. gloriaon 08 Jun 2009 at 9:41 pm

    9:38 pm… Only one lone nestling at the COL nest…. I feel bad for him/her…. everyone else has fledged … and he/she is alone at the nest….do you think something is wrong Kate? Is it that he/she is just not ready? I am hoping for good news in the morning…. G’nite all…

  15. Kate St. Johnon 08 Jun 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Nothing’s wrong. I believe that’s Dorothy taking a break now that the kids have left the nest.

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