Archive for the 'Nesting & Courtship' Category

Jun 04 2013

An Afternoon With Pittsburgh’s Eagles

It was hot and breezy last Saturday when Glenn Przyborski went down to the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail to see the bald eagles’ nest at Hays.

Glenn is a cinematographer so of course he took his camera and a really good scope.  His resulting video is a gorgeous, intimate look at the bald eagle family and their nestling who’s due to fledge near the end of this month.

Watch it on YouTube above, or see it in HD on Glenn’s Vimeo site.

(video by Glenn Przyborski, Przyborski Productions)


p.s.  You can tell it was hot on Saturday because the eagles are panting.

p.p.s  Glenn used a 2000mm Celestron C8 telescope to get these great close-ups!

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May 30 2013

A Day In The Life of Six Peregrines

Downtown peregrines, parents trade places, chicks watch (photo by Christopher Rolinson, StartPoint Media)

A week ago on May 23 Chris Rolinson set up his time-lapse camera at Point Park University’s Lawrence Hall to capture snapshots of the Downtown peregrines.  My favorite is this one of Dori leaving the nest and Louie coming in.  Awesome wing action!  Look at the chicks watch and call.

Chris also created a video from the time-lapse snapshots.  Click on the photo to watch a quick day in the life of six peregrines.

Today the youngsters are all brown with a full set of flight feathers and they’re ready to fly.  Visit Third Ave Downtown to watch.

(photos and video by Christopher Rolinson of Point Park University and StartPoint Media)

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May 28 2013

This Is The Week!

dori on the balcony (photo by Matthew Richardson)

This is the week that the Downtown peregrine chicks will fly for the first time.  Right now their parents are protective while the “kids” exercise their wings.

Above, Dori paid a visit to Matthew Richardson’s balcony at Point Park’s Lawrence Hall last Thursday.

Matthew carefully checked that no peregrines were in view when he went out on the balcony with a friend, but soon Dori flew in from below, circled, and landed on the railing.

Fortunately she was silent.  Though she wasn’t angry and kakking, she got her point across that she wants folks to stay back from above while her kids are at this vulnerable stage.  Matthew wrote that she “did have pretty loud non-verbals!”

At the nest her four youngsters have lost their down and are flapping up a storm.  On Sunday they were clearly visible at the nest opening.  Mary DeVaughn saw two perched at the edge while Dori watched from above.

Dori watches over two nestlings ready to fledge (photo by Mary DeVaughn)


Stop by Third Ave Downtown to watch them fledge. Make sure they don’t become stranded on the street. Click here for directions.

This is the week! By June 7 the excitement near Point Park University will disperse as the young peregrines explore other parts of Downtown.

(Dori’s balcony photo by Matthew Richardson. Nest area photo by Mary DeVaughn)

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May 25 2013

Nesting Ended At Green Tree?


The news is mixed from the Green Tree water tower peregrines.

On the one hand, their nest seems to have failed.

On May 17 and 18, Mary Jo Peden and Shannon Thompson reported that both peregrines were visible again.   If their nest had been successful the female would still be incubating eggs or brooding chicks while the male brought them food.  Instead the pair was seen mating and hanging out together.  Not a good sign for their first attempt.

On the other hand, Shannon digi-scoped photos of both birds and discovered the female is banded and the male is not.

The male, above right, demonstrated his bare legs by preening extensively.

The female, above left, posed with her right leg showing off a blue band.  This is the USFWS band that’s colored in some states or may be covered in colored tape to distinguish nest mates after they’ve fledged.

Ohio uses purple USFWS bands but I’ve seen those bands look blue in some lights.  Does this female have tape on her band?  Or is she from Ohio?

The mystery continues.

Click here for close-ups of Shannon’s photos.

(photos by Shannon Thompson)

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May 22 2013

Bridge Babies!

Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Robert Stovers on Wikimedia Commons)

After three disappointing banding attempts at Pittsburgh area bridges, Dan Brauning struck peregrine gold yesterday at the I-79 Neville Island Bridge, pictured above.

Last week he and Art McMorris brought back disappointing news from Tarentum, Westinghouse and McKees Rocks:  solo abandoned eggs at Tarentum and McKees Rocks, and a single handicapped nestling with a poor prognosis at Westinghouse.

But yesterday was good.  Dan found three peregrine nestlings at the Glenfield span of the I-79 Neville Island Bridge.  The two males and one female chick are 22 days old.

Anne Marie Bosnyak and Laura Marshall monitor this site and were on the scene.  When they arrived at 9:00am they saw both adult peregrines on the bridge and hunting in the vicinity.  Around 10:00am Dan and PennDOT went under the bridge and walked the catwalk from Neville Island to Glenfield but found no peregrines.  If there were baby peregrines on the bridge why weren’t their parents defending them?

On the way back to the Neville Island side Dan checked some additional nooks.  One of the parents arrived with prey and was so stunned that humans were approaching her nest that she perched silently for a moment.   Then all hell broke loose.  Kak and attack!   The noise signaled her mate to come quickly and he joined the fray.

Both adults are banded and now their chicks are, too.  Dan was able to read the bands on the mother peregrine:  black/red 62/H born in 2010 in Canton, Ohio.  Ohio peregrine fans, this is Magnum, photographed by Jeff McDonald on New Year’s Day at Cork-Bocktown Rd.

The chicks are due to fledge on June 5 and they will need watchers!  The only reason we know of this site is because a fledgling fell in the river last year and was rescued by boaters.  Imagine if no one saw him!   Stay tuned next week for information on where to watch and when.  Earmark June 5-10!

Meanwhile in Beaver County…

After the I-79 Bridge banding, Dan met up with WCO Matt Kramer and confirmed that peregrines are not nesting at the Monaca-East Rochester Bridge as they have since 2007.  Instead they’ve moved 1.25 miles downstream to the huge railroad bridge across the Ohio at Monaca-Beaver.

Ohio River railroad bridge, Beaver, PA

I’m surprised they moved but not surprised they chose this bridge.  It’s the tallest in the area, has a long westward view down the river, and is perfect for nesting if you can stand the roar and thump of trains.  Back in March 2008 several of us witnessed a territorial battle at this bridge.

Why didn’t peregrines move here earlier?  Perhaps there wasn’t the proper substrate for making a scrape until now.

In any case, they’ve chosen an inaccessible spot near the top so their babies won’t be banded.  Sneaky!


(photo of Neville Island I-79 Bridge from Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Monaca-Beaver railroad bridge by Kate St. John)

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May 20 2013

Save The Date: Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch

Schenley Plaza tent (photo by Kate St. John)


Save the date!  Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch will be Thursday May 30 through Wednesday June 5.

We’ll gather at the Schenley Plaza tent, above, to watch for the young peregrine’s first flight from the Cathedral of Learning.

See him walk the ledges and flap his wings to prepare for his big adventure.  Watch Dorothy and E2 show him how to fly with some really cool flight demonstrations.  See Dorothy keep the area safe for fledglings.  Last year she attacked a bald eagle!

I’ll be there with peregrine fans from Pittsburgh Falconuts and volunteer peregrine monitors from the bridges.  We’ll all swap stories about peregrines.  I can hardly wait!

My challenge, as always, is to predict the best watching days.  With one male chick this year I expect the time span to be brief.  Male chicks normally fly early and improve their skills quickly.

So here’s the schedule but check the blog for updates because this event is very weather dependent.  Peregrines don’t like to fledge in the rain.  (UPDATED May 30.)

  • UPDATE:  Thur. May 30, 1:00pm to 2:00pm.  Baby started ledge walking on May 28.  On May 29 he perched in the keyhole while his parents put on an airshow.  Great peregrine watching! Come to the tent.
  • UPDATE:  Fri. May 31, 12:30pm to 2:00pm.  Slight chance of thunderstorms; hoping the weather cooperates during my extended lunch hour.
  • Sat. June 1, 4:00pm to 6:00pm, weather dependent.  Watch the weather.  Rain and thunderstorms predicted.  I won’t be there if it’s raining/storming.
  • Sun. June 2, Weather Dependent!  noon to 2:00pm, possibly extended hours (stay tuned).  Watch the weather — more rain and thunderstorms predicted.  Though our chick will be anxious to fly I won’t there if it’s raining/storming.
  • Mon. June 3, noon to 2:00pm + after work 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  I bet he’ll be flying by now but he won’t go far.  This may be the best day.
  • Tues. June 4, noon to 2:00pm + after work 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  If Monday wasn’t best, Tuesday will be.  Stay tuned for updates.
  • Wed. June 5, 12:30pm to 2:00pm.  Might be canceled if activity is on the wane.  If “Baby” has left the nest zone, this day will be a bust. Stay tuned.
  • June 6 and remainder of the week: Not scheduled.  Stay tuned.


Come on down to Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch!  Meet me at the tent!

(photo of the Schenley Plaza tent by Kate St. John)

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May 19 2013

Woodcock Family

Published by under Nesting & Courtship

Woodcock mother and chicks (photo by Charlie Hickey)

It’s hard enough to find a woodcock let alone an entire family.

Early this month at Magee Marsh, Ohio I heard that a woodcock was nesting in a grassy sward of the parking lot.  I found the spot easily — it was surrounded by police tape — but I could not find the mother bird incubating her eggs.  I looked for quite a while but she was too cryptic for me to see.

Her eggs hatched the following week and Charlie Hickey was there to capture a family portrait.  I love how her chicks have cryptic down and tiny versions of her very long beak.

I wish I’d seen them, but then… I couldn’t even find their mother.


(photo by Charlie Hickey. Click on the photo to see more pictures of this woodcock family)

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May 15 2013

We Three … Are Actually Four

Three peregrine chicks visible at the Downtown Pittsburgh nest (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Point Park University)

Yesterday morning three peregrine chicks hopped all over the place at the Downtown Pittsburgh nest.

Thanks to Donna Memon for capturing this image at just the right moment!



Aha!  I love to be proved wrong when the news is happy!  There are FOUR chicks in the Downtown nest.  Thanks to Nathalie Picard for alerting me.  Here’s a screenshot:

Four chicks at the Downtown peregrine nest  (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Point Park University)

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Point Park University)


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May 12 2013

Happy Mothers’ Day

Dorothy and Baby, 8 May 2013 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy and her chick have been emblematic of mothers’ love this year.  Above, Baby leans on Dorothy.


And here Dorothy watches over Baby as he sleeps.
Dorothy watches over Baby, 8 May 2013 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)


Happy Mothers’ Day to all mothers, and especially to my own mom who reads this blog every day.


(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at University of Pittsburgh)

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May 10 2013

Mothers’ Work

Mallard with ducklings (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

We tend to think that birds with precocial chicks have an easier time as parents than those whose nestlings are naked and blind at birth, but this isn’t necessarily so.

Ducklings can walk, swim and feed themselves shortly after they hatch but their mobility is problematic.  They have no idea where to find food nor how to stay safe.  All they know is “Stay with Mom!”

Mother leads them to feeding areas and shows them what to taste.  The ducklings peck in the vicinity until they find good food.

Her hardest responsibility is protecting them from danger.  Baby ducklings are tasty morsels for raptors, minks, cats, dogs, large fish and snapping turtles.  If you watch a mallard family day to day you’ll notice the number of ducklings decreases over time.  Mom does her best but danger lurks.

This mother mallard has had pretty good success so far.  Out of 8 to 13 eggs she still has six chicks.

Until they can fly she has mothers’ work to do.


(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original. Today’s Tenth Page is inspired by page 483 of Ornithology by Frank B. Gill.)

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