May 19 2014
Pittsburgh’s peregrine falcon chicks are in for a surprise this week (and next). Dan Brauning and Tom Keller are coming to town.
Dan Brauning, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Chief, and PGC wildlife biologist Tom Keller will visit six of Pittsburgh’s eight peregrine nest sites to band the chicks. At each site they’ll walk and reach into dangerous high places, collect the chicks, weigh and band them and return them to the nest.
You’re welcome to observe from nearby. Bring binoculars and a camera and you might get a good snapshot of the adults’ bands. At the bridge sites it’s the only way we find out who’s nesting there.
Tuesday, May 20:
- Gulf Tower, 9:00am: Watch the webcam just after 9:00am and you’ll see the “kids” cluster at the back of the nestbox while their parents scream, swoop and attack. The banding won’t last long so tune in early or meet Pittsburgh Falconut John English before 9:00am at Flag Plaza, 1275 Bedford Avenue, where there’s an eye-level view of the Gulf Tower nest area.
- Westinghouse Bridge, 12:30pm: For the banders this will be a two step process: walk the catwalk to find the nest then use the snooper crane to access it. Meet John English at noon at Wendy’s on Route 30 in North Versailles and he’ll guide you to a viewing spot below the bridge. He’ll be wearing his peregrine ballcap and binoculars so you can’t miss him.
UPDATE!! Predicted thunderstorms have rescheduled the Wednesday and Thursday bandings. They will be on …
SCHEDULE CHANGE: Wednesday, May 21:
- Monaca/East Rochester Bridge, 9:00am. We’re not sure if the peregrines chose this bridge or the large railroad bridge this spring. If they chose Monaca/East Rochester, it will become clear right after 9:00am when they raise a fuss. If so, viewing may be good from the community ballpark on the Monaca side.
SCHEDULE CHANGE: Thursday, May 22:
- Tarentum Bridge, 8:30am. Meet Rob Protz at the Tarentum public boat launch under the bridge. If you’re coming from Route 28, take the First Avenue exit from the bridge ramp and it’ll put you right there. Expect a small crowd with cameras and binoculars. You can’t miss it.
- McKees Rocks Bridge, after the Tarentum banding. This one is hard to view because the bridge is huge and the banders aren’t sure where the nest is. There are no viewing plans (that I know of) because we won’t know where to stand until the nest is found.
Wednesday, May 28:
- Glenfield-Neville Island I-79 Bridge over the Ohio River, 9:00am. Meet at the west end of the Fairfield Inn and Suites parking lot on Grand Avenue on Neville Island. This is the end of the bridge where the nest is located. See the comments below for more information from Anne Marie Bosnyak.
What about the nests at Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning and the Green Tree water tower?
- Cathedral of Learning: As we know from watching the webcam, Dorothy and E2 have only one egg and they’ve never incubated. Some time this week the Game Commission will collect the egg and test it for fertility, etc. Don’t be surprised when it’s gone.
- At the Green Tree water tower the pair is present but has never incubated so there’s no reason to visit the site this year.
If you take photos at one of the bandings, let me know and I’ll post them with news. Leave a comment to alert me.
(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)