Jul 05 2010
I don’t know about you but I’m going through peregrine withdrawal.
On campus the Pitt peregrines are really hard to find. Though I’ve seen the adults carrying prey and know they’re still feeding their young, the “kids” are not hanging out near the Cathedral of Learning.
So what are they doing?
They’re learning to hunt. If they don’t master it, they’ll starve. If they aren’t really good at it, they can’t feed a family.
The lessons happen in the air:
- The adult peregrine catches a bird (in this case a pigeon) and carries it in its talons to the vicinity of its youngsters.
- The youngsters are always on the lookout for a possible meal and immediately chase the adult, shouting for food.
- When a youngster catches up, the adult rises up and dangles the pigeon.
- Sometimes the juvenile flips upside down, raises his feet and catches the prey as his parent drops it (shown here). Sometimes he dives for it as it falls past him.
- The lesson is always noisy. The juveniles shout the entire time, even after catching the prey.
Thankfully Chad and Chris Saladin saw this lesson in Ohio and were able to capture it on camera.
Look at the surprise on this youngster’s face!
I wish our peregrines would do this while I’m watching.
(photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)
p.p.s. Chad & Chris reminded me that the birds in this photo are Maddy (adult) and Michelin (juvenile). Maddy was born at Pitt and nests on the I-480 bridge in Cleveland. Michelin landed on a pile of old tires when he fledged – hence his name. He’s all grown up now and nests at the lake near Cleveland.