Mar 23 2015
On Sunday afternoon five of us scoured Downtown Pittsburgh looking for the peregrine falcon pair who haven’t used the Gulf Tower nest since March 10. They’ve got to be nesting somewhere by now, but where? Our Peregrine Quest came up with mixed results.
Doug walked Gateway Center/Market Square. Denise and her husband checked midtown including the 2012-2013 nesting zone. I checked Penn/Liberty and went to the North Shore for a wider view and John English went to Flag Plaza. Only John saw peregrines and he saw them almost immediately. (UPDATE: See Doug’s comment below.)
After John texted me with two peregrine sightings back-to-back — one flew past BNY Mellon down the Forbes-Fifth canyon and one perched on UPMC (U.S. Steel Building) — I raced over to Flag Plaza to see them, too. I hadn’t been there long before we saw an exciting but silent interaction.
A female peregrine was flying around UPMC and approaching the building again from the left when a male peregrine popped out from behind the building (using it as a blind) and attacked her from above! She evaded his dive-bombing and sailed around UPMC one more time, then circled up and sailed off toward Oakland.
Here’s a map of the buildings (red pins), the peregrine perch (green pin), our vantage point (brown pin), and the peregrine flight paths during our half hour of watching. After the attack the male perched on UPMC for a while but we missed seeing him leave.
View Downtown Pittsburgh, Peregrine Tussle, 3/22/15, 2pm in a larger map
Why would a male peregrine attack a female during nesting season? The only time I’ve seen this happen is when the pair has eggs in the nest, the female is busy at the nest, and a new female shows up. The male then defends his territory, nest, and mate from an intruding female. So my guess is that the Downtown peregrines already have a nest.
We learned that they’re spending time at this end of town, but we still don’t know where they’re nesting.
(view from Flag Plaza, photo by Kate St. John with lousy late afternoon light)