Jul 13 2010

Blue, we hardly knew you, and now you’re gone

Published by at 5:23 pm under Peregrines


More sad news. 

The young peregrine in this photograph is dead.  

Beth Fife called this afternoon to tell me she was dispatched downtown to pick up a dead peregrine.  As she made the trip, she hoped it had been misidentified. 

Alas, it was Blue, the bird who caused such a stir by perching near the ground during rush hour on June 22.  Jim Altier photographed her on the railing at the Federal Reserve Bank. 

Blue slammed into the Grant Building around midday today.  She was probably learning to hunt or playing a Chase Me game and not paying attention.  Witnesses say she crumpled and fell to an upper roof of the Grant Building where her body was retrieved. 

There are now only three youngsters at Gulf Tower for Dori and Louie to feed and teach — all of them male.  Since June 24th Dorothy and E2 have had only three youngsters at Pitt: two males and one female.  However, there is one bright spot.

The two young female peregrines in rehab – one from Gulf, one from Pitt - are graduating to the Flight Pen at the rehab center this week.  They’ll tone up their wing muscles and be ready for release next week if all goes well.  They are:

  • White, the Gulf Tower female who banged her head.  (This sounds eerily similar to Blue’s accident.)
  • Yellow, the University of Pittsburgh female who was trapped in the chimney at Webster Hall and became dehydrated.

These two birds will rejoin their families where I’m sure we’ll see them begging for food. 

Karen and I saw four peregrines at Pitt just yesterday.  The gang’s still here.

(photo by Jim Altier)

23 responses so far

23 Responses to “Blue, we hardly knew you, and now you’re gone”

  1. Jennieon 13 Jul 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you, Kate for keeping us updated, even when the news is bad. I’m glad you were able to balance the sad news with the happier news of White’s and Yellow’s progress. Thank you, Jim, for sharing your wonderful photo of Blue.

  2. Deniseon 13 Jul 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I am so sad to hear the news , thank you Kate for the updated bad or good news , keep the good work , we really appreciated .

  3. Anne Marieon 13 Jul 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Kate, yes thanks for keeping up to date on our beloved peregrines.
    And I’m trying to focus on the happy news that the 2 females are doing better, which leads me to my questions…. So, the juveniles will actually be released near their parents? How is that done? Drop them off at the nest or a nearby ledge? Will the parents recognize them after all this time?
    Thanks…again.

  4. Donnaon 13 Jul 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I was so excited to see 2 peregrines from the 33rd floor of PNC Plaza today! And now we receive this very sad news. I am comforted to know that the 2 injured females are doing well and will soon re-join their families, who have become our families as well.

  5. Kate St. Johnon 13 Jul 2010 at 7:38 pm

    The rehabbed birds will be released near their nest sites. There is no doubt their parents will recognize them – by voice if nothing else. The youngsters will beg for food because they will have missed about 3+ weeks of training.

  6. Hermon 13 Jul 2010 at 9:50 pm

    This has been a great learning experience overall. Have enjoyed every minute since eggs were laid. Visiting Pgh. this week and hoping to see the falcons at Pitt and/or Gulf tower. Any tips on locations, times, etc. would be appreciated. Thanks KSJ from a falcon follower in GA.

  7. Marianneon 14 Jul 2010 at 8:59 am

    This is more sad news. Everything I wanted to say has already been said by the comments left before mine.

    I have to remember that this is how nature works. Starting out with 5 chicks was good to help the species survive setbacks. That is why there are so many turkey chicks, to be sure that there are some left to breed for the future.

    I will reiterate thanks to Kate for keeping us informed about these wonderful birds, good or bad. They have been such a joy to me for my first year of Peregrine cam watching!

    Going to fledge watch and seeing the Peregrines live and from a different view/angle was so much fun! It was great to meet Kate and other Peregrine fans and chatters in person too! :-)

  8. Marianneon 14 Jul 2010 at 9:00 am

    I forgot to mention that a birding friend of mine recently commented that fledging time is the most perilous time in a bird’s life and she is right! :-(

  9. Mary Ann Pikeon 14 Jul 2010 at 9:24 am

    I would think that young birds in a more natural environment (like cliffs) would not be injured as much…no odd structures like chimneys to get stuck in, or windows to confuse them. I would think the windows in the buildings downtown would be a particular problem since the buildings are all so tall and so close together. It seems like they might think the windows are open space and try to fly through them. Oakland is more open and the buildings aren’t so tall, so I think that would be less of a problem there.

    On a different subject, we have a nest of flickers in a tree behind our house (and I’m sure there are woodpeckers nesting nearby since I’ve seen some young birds with their parents around our suet cake). I’ve wondered how the baby woodpeckers learn to fly. For birds that nest in tree branches, it would be easy for the babies to hop in and out of the nest and test their wings before the first flight. But when you’re coming out of a hole in a tree with no branches nearby, there is no place to test out your wings. Of course swallows and chimney swifts would have the same issues.

  10. Kate St. Johnon 14 Jul 2010 at 10:29 am

    Sadly, cliff areas are just as dangerous, but for different reasons. If they land on the ground on first flight there is no one there to take them to the top of the cliff to start over, so they are eaten by predators. They can still land/fall in narrow places between rocks and not be able to fly out (this resembles the chimney problem). Cities have few predators, cliffs have many. But the one advantage cliffs have, as Mary Ann pointed out, is that there are no reflective windows/buildings.

  11. Kate St. Johnon 14 Jul 2010 at 10:34 am

    Herm, if you want to see peregrines in Pittsburgh I suggest the locations below at this time of year. The peregrines will be hard to find — might not even be there — so bring binoculars!

    1. Check the window ledges of the tall buildings surrounding Mellon Square downtown. Many people have sent me photos of juvenile & adult peregrines perched on the window ledges of the Oliver Building.
    http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2008/06/23/just-when-you-thought-it-was-over/
    http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2008/06/06/one-very-wet-peregrine/
    http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2008/05/05/why-do-they-nest-near-us/

    2. At Pitt, check the top of the Cathedral of Learning (especially the lightning rod antenna on top of the building), the steeple on Heinz Chapel and the steeples on St. Paul’s Cathedral.

  12. faith cornellon 14 Jul 2010 at 1:36 pm

    My husband’s granddaughter works in the Gulf Bldg. I emailed her this morning; she said whole staff is so sad. They watch these babies everyyear & get so attached. It is always sad to lose even one.

  13. Kristenon 14 Jul 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Poor Blue! I guess this is what happens out in the world, but it’s still terribly sad. I was so rooting for all five to make it into adulthood.

  14. Mary DeV.on 14 Jul 2010 at 4:12 pm

    RIP, Blue! I hope she’s flying around Peregrine Heaven with her nephew Green Boy and having a great time *sniff*

    On a happier note, I got a brief peregrine fix yesterday on the way home — driving by Heinz Chapel, I noticed a definite peregrine-shaped lump on one of the crossbars of the steeple! Gotta remember not to bird & drive at the same time though ;-)

    And the local hummingbirds have finally discovered my feeder — one visited Sunday evening, and Monday morning & evening. Plus, Keith noticed one Friday or Saturday, but forgot to tell me(!) I don’t know if this is several sightings of the same hummingbird, or different individuals. They don’t stay still long enough to get a good look, let alone take a picture! Also, the house on the corner has a side yard that’s badly overgrown & full of thistles (it’s rented by a couple of frat brothers, one of whom spends a lot of time giving haircuts to his buddies — I guess it never occurred to him to use those skills *outside*!) Be that as it may, an American Goldfinch was having a wonderful time chomping on those thistles Tuesday morning. It’s been a while since I’d seen one in the neighborhood — probably not since the last time I grew sunflowers.

  15. Mary DeV.on 14 Jul 2010 at 4:14 pm

    PS — Kate, thanks for the info on what happens after Yellow & White finish rehab. I was going to ask that question myself but Anne Marie beat me to it.

  16. Mary DeVon 14 Jul 2010 at 5:46 pm

    LOL — me again — I lucked out with 3 peregrine fixes in 2 days! On the way home this afternoon, I spotted one of the kids on the Community of Reconciliation tower. I decided *this* time I’d park the car & break out the 10×50′s. Of course, by that time, it was no longer there! But while I was there, another kid (or possibly the same one?) landed on the roof of Pitt’s Alumni Hall (across 5th from the COL.)

    And, when I got home the hummingbird was at the feeder again :-)

  17. faith cornellon 15 Jul 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Had a dr. appt. this morning & just got back. Went into Hornby eagle site; apparently the lone eaglet died, Phoenix. How sad. Yesterday there was alot of chatter on there about his behavior,in that they thought he had not eaten for awhile & he was huddled up against the tree trunk. So maybe they will find out why he died. With only one chick hatching it will be a long wait until 2011.

  18. Kate St. Johnon 15 Jul 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I saw Daniel on campus today & he said he saw three peregrines on Heinz Chapel steeple this morning. This is unusual — it’s been pretty quiet at Pitt.
    At lunchtime Karen & I saw Dorothy perched in the keyhole in front of the nest area but no other peregrines.
    It is HOT out there now.

  19. Ellie (cc)on 16 Jul 2010 at 9:55 am

    Thanks Kate for all the info you share. I was so sad to learn about Blue. This whole experience of seeing Mother Nature up close has been an amazing journey. I sure wish none of the accidents had happened, but we must balance the sad news and good news and I’m so glad the two in rehab are doing well. Also, a big thanks to everyone who shared photos. Jim’s photo of Blue is just so special. TY!

  20. Anne Marieon 16 Jul 2010 at 12:18 pm

    COL update – 2 juveniles on St Paul Cathedral around noon! Yay!
    Every time I see them now I hope it won’t be my last, but one day it will… so I enjoy every second!

  21. vasilison 16 Jul 2010 at 1:06 pm

    It’s been tough to hear about the news and so happy about the upcoming release of the White and Yellow soon; I can’t wait to hear news on that outcome..

    I was hoping to hear good news from the other local “Blue”, from Harrisburgh, but I haven’t seen any updates. I guess Blue there will remain for educational purposes only after all. (Also I was following closely Hornby’s nest, and the sad news there were tough too..)

    I’ve been a few times, during weekends, in downtown and I saw twice the pretty birds; but you have to wait sometimes a long while; with all the buildings downtown is tougher to see them than at the cathedral.

    Kate, you think by mid-Aug most of the juveniles here around Pitt will start hunting their own food, or that’s still a bit far out?

  22. Kate St. Johnon 16 Jul 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Normally the juveniles are gone by August but the two who have been in rehab will be here because they have missed some weeks of training.

  23. Steve-oon 16 Jul 2010 at 11:43 pm

    I saw to Juveniles flying to the COL last night during a walk. It’s funny how they flap their wings so much more compared to their parents. I also saw a Peregrine tonight that nobody else seems to see by me ; )

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