Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

May 22 2015

Downtown Peregrines Found!

Peregrine nest, Downtown Pittsburgh, 19 May 2015 (photo by Larry Walsh)

Peregrine with chicks in background, Downtown Pittsburgh, 19 May 2015 (photo by Larry Walsh)

Late Tuesday Art McMorris* and I got an email from Larry Walsh, Pittsburgh Principal & COO of Rugby Realty at the Gulf Tower, “Are you aware that the Peregrine (presumably the one from Gulf) has a nest with babies?”

My gosh, Larry has found them!

It turns out that he was visiting an office across town and the staff said, “We have a peregrine family near us.”  He thought they must be mistaken until he saw the birds. The peregrines and their nestlings are well known and loved by the entire office.  Their nest was only a secret by accident because the staff didn’t know who to tell.

On Wednesday morning Larry introduced me to the staff and the viewing zone.  Using binoculars I read the parents’ bands and confirmed that they are indeed Dori and Louie from the Gulf Tower with three nestlings that hatched on May 6.

Dori with three chicks, 20 May 2015 (photo by Kate St. John)

Dori with three chicks, 20 May 2015 (photo by Kate St. John)

The nest site is perfect with shelter, deep gravel, and no human intrusion but it has one enormous flaw.  It is only on the 7th floor — way too low for the nestlings to fledge successfully.  They will surely land on the street and will only survive with the help of Fledge Watch volunteers.

Right now, while Art McMorris is figuring out if the nestlings can be banded, I am purposely vague about the nest location and the wonderful people I met on Wednesday.  Soon, however, I’ll tell you where it is because this peregrine family desperately needs Fledge Watch volunteers on the street, June 10 to 20!

Mark your calendar and stay tuned for more news including beautiful photos from Matt D.

 

(photos by Larry Walsh and Kate St. John)

* Art McMorris is the PA Game Commission’s Peregrine Coordinator.

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May 20 2015

Descended From The Terror Birds?

(photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)

Peregrine falcon (Stellar) in Youngstown, Ohio (photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)

Last month brought news of the best-preserved skeleton ever found of a South American Terror Bird.  When Audubon’s Science News compared the fossil to modern birds I made the connection to peregrine falcons.  Can you guess why?

Terror Birds were a genus of large, flightless, predatory birds that thrived in South America from 60 million to 2.5 million years ago.  Found at a coastal cliff in Argentina, the skeleton of Llallawavis scagliai shows he was four feet tall, had a face like a hatchet (literally!) and a low voice like an ostrich. Though he couldn’t fly he could run 60 miles an hour and capture anything he wanted to eat.

Skeleton of Llallawavis scagliai on display at the Museo Municipal de Ciencias Naturales Lorenzo Scaglia, Mar del Plata.Credit: M. Taglioretti and F. Scaglia

Skeleton of Llallawavis scagliai on display at the Museo Municipal de Ciencias Naturales Lorenzo Scaglia, Mar del Plata. Credit: M. Taglioretti and F. Scaglia
Image Linked from Science Daily

He hatcheted his prey with his enormous beak! Click here for an artist’s rendition of what he looked like.

The Terror Birds’ nearest living relative is the seriema, also native to South America.

Seriema at Whipsnade Zoo (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Seriema with snake (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

At three feet tall, seriemas can fly but they prefer to walk and can run at 40 miles an hour when they need to.  They forage on the ground for plants, lizards, frogs, rats and smaller birds and kill large prey by slamming it against the ground and ripping it with their sharp claws.  That snake (above) doesn’t stand a chance.

Seriemas are related to Terror Birds and recent DNA tests have shown that peregrine falcons are closely related to seriemas.  (Click here for their family tree. They’re at the top.)

So I wonder … are peregrine falcons descended from the Terror Birds?

If not in body, certainly in spirit!

 

(photo credits:
Peregrine falcon photo by Chad+Chris Saladin
Skeleton of Llallawavis scagliai linked from the Science Daily; click on the image to read the article
Seriema photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the original
)

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May 17 2015

Peregrine News: Tarentum and Pitt

Published by under Peregrines

Young male peregrine at Tarentum Bridge (photo by Steve Gosser)

Young male peregrine at Tarentum Bridge, 9 May 2015 (photo by Steve Gosser)

Dorothy isn’t the only falcon who’s making the news.  Yesterday the Tarentum Bridge peregrines were featured in the Valley News Dispatch.

The PA Game Commission found no evidence of a nest at the Tarentum Bridge this month, but there are peregrines there so why no nest?  Steve Gosser’s photos from May 9 helped solve the mystery.  Read more here in Mary Ann Thomas’ article at TribLive.

Meanwhile, Dorothy couldn’t help making the news when Kara Holsopple interviewed me on WYEP’s Allegheny Front: Dorothy Becomes a Mother Again.

 

p.s. On Friday one of Dorothy’s remaining three eggs broke to reveal a dead chick, not fully developed.  She checked to make sure it was dead and then took it away from the nest.

(photo by Steve Gosser)

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May 16 2015

Peregrine Falcon Coloring Page

Peregrine falcon coloring page (illustration by Mark Klingler, text by Cathy Klingler)

Peregrine falcon coloring page (Illustration by Mark Klingler, text by Cathy Klingler)

This week the happy news of Dorothy’s hatchling revived an educational project that celebrates her nesting.

Mark Klingler of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is a scientific illustrator whose work appears in many publications and last year won first place for Illustrated Text by Large Non-Profit Publishers at the Washington Book Publishers’ Awards.  You may be familiar with Mark’s illustration of Anzu wyliei, the Chicken From Hell, that made the news in March 2014.  When the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has dinosaur news, Mark’s work illustrates the stories.

As a sideline Mark and his wife Cathy produce educational coloring pages for children.

More than a year ago Mark drafted a peregrine falcon illustration using photos of Dorothy, E2 and their chicks and Cathy wrote educational information for the back of the page.  They intended to complete it last spring but Dorothy’s nest failed (she was egg bound) and it was too disappointing to continue.

This week’s happy news prompted Mark and Cathy to complete their project and offer it as a gift to the public.

The illustration, dedicated to the late G. Alex “Doc” Stewart of the University of Pittsburgh Honors College, is an annotated illustration of Dorothy, E2 and their chicks.  The back of the coloring page describes the recent history of peregrines in the eastern U.S. and Pittsburgh and provides tips on how to protect them.

Mark writes, “It’s our public sharing. Cathy and I like to create these pages to handout at talks.  As long as the credits are left on it people can copy and share with their schools, activity groups, etc.”

Click here or on the image above to download your own copy of the Peregrine Falcon Coloring Page.

 

(illustration by Mark Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Text by Cathy Klingler)

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May 15 2015

Dorothy Is A Rock Star

Published by under Peregrines

Dorothy feeds her nestling, 12 May 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy feeds her nestling, 12 May 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

This week Dorothy made the news when she defied the odds and hatched a nestling on Mother’s Day.

At 16 years old she overcame a host of age-related issues including lower fertility, reproductive complications from being egg bound last spring, and potential rivals for her nest site.

Here success was a popular topic with media coverage at …

Dorothy is a Rock Star!   (…but we knew that)

 

p.s.  Various numbers were listed in the news articles. Here are Dorothy’s statistics:  At age 16 she has laid more than 55 eggs of which 44 have hatched and 42 have fledged (flown from the nest).  We don’t know the exact count of her eggs because her first nest was hidden.  This chick will be counted as her 43rd fledgling when it flies.

(photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at University of Pittsburgh.  Click on the image to watch the webcam)

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May 11 2015

Feather Storm

E2 and Dorothy prepare Sunday evening's meal for their nestling (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

E2, Dorothy, and nestling before the meal begins, 10 May 2015, 6:13pm

Dorothy has always been a messy housekeeper but she normally keeps the nest clean until she’s finished brooding the chicks, eight days after they hatch.  Last evening she broke with tradition.

Just after 6:00pm E2 brought a mourning dove for dinner for their half-day-old nestling.  Dorothy couldn’t wait for him to prepare it and began plucking like crazy. The feathers flew!

Dorothy makes the feathers fly (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Feeding in the feather storm (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Mission accomplished, the nestling ate his fill and fell asleep among the feathers.

Messy nest so soon (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Most peregrine nests are cleaner than this but Dorothy is an exception … in many ways.

 

Watch the action here on the National Aviary falconcam at the Cathedral of Learning.

(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera at University of Pittsburgh)

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May 10 2015

First Egg Hatched!

First nestling of 2015 (photo from National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

First nestling of 2015 (photo from National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy and E2’s first egg of 2015 hatched this morning at 4:49 am.  Teresa Buszko was quick to save this snapshot of the first nestling for Pittsburgh Falconuts.

The chick will be hidden when Dorothy broods it but you can be assured an egg has hatched because there’s an eggshell to Dorothy’s right.

First Egg Hatched at Univ of Pittsburgh, 2015 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam)

First Egg Hatched at Univ of Pittsburgh, 2015 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam)

But look quickly for the shells.  Dorothy eats them for their calcium.

Dorothy eats the eggshell, 10 May 2015 (photo from the Nartional Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy eats the eggshell, 10 May 2015 (photo from the Nartional Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Watch the action on the webcam here.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera at University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning)

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May 09 2015

Westinghouse Yes! Tarentum No

An angry Storm. The female peregrine at the Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Tom Keller, PA Game Commission)

An angry Storm. The female peregrine at the Westinghouse Bridge, 8 May 2015 (photo by Tom Keller, PA Game Commission)

Yesterday Tom Keller of the Pennsylvania Game Commission checked several peregrine bridge sites to get an estimate for hatch and banding dates.  His visits solved two mysteries.

At the Westinghouse Bridge we’ve been debating the identity of the female peregrine ever since Dana Nesiti captured photos of her bands last month.  By mid-April we decided that they read Black/Green 66/C so I wrote “Surprise!  Canton, Ohio’s “Storm” has regained her nest site after a three year absence.”

But that seemed more surprising than was actually possible.  Storm is 10 years old and would have re-won the site from six-year-old Hecla who triumphed over her in 2012.  Where did Storm go for three years?  Why didn’t she come back earlier?  We doubted the band was 66/C.  It was Curiouser and Curiouser.

Tom Keller solved the mystery.  Storm was so angry when he approached her nest that she nailed his helmet half a dozen times and he got a very good photo of her bands (66/C).  He also got a blurry photo of the male’s bands, below.  Art McMorris says that the partial reading indicates the male is from Virginia.

Male peregrine bands atthe Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Tom Keller, PGC)

Male peregrine bands at the Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Tom Keller, PGC)

Meanwhile, we were disappointed but not surprised to learn that Tom found no evidence of a peregrine nest at the Tarentum Bridge.  Hope (69/Z) has kept the bridge as her territory but she doesn’t have a mate and was not aggressive when Tom walked the catwalk.  The good news is that she dug a scrape in the new nestbox.  We hope she has a mate next year.

Stay tuned for Banding and Fledge Watch dates at the Westinghouse Bridge.

Westinghouse, Yes!   Tarentum, alas, is No.

 

(photos by Tom Keller, PA Game Commission)

LATE BREAKING NEWS! A young male (still brown) was seen with Hope at the Tarentum Bridge this morning.

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May 08 2015

Yes, It’s Hot!

E2 panting at the nest in the heat, 7 Mat 2015, 10:48am (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

E2 panting as he shades the eggs (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

This week’s hot and sunny weather has been 14-16 degrees above normal  — so hot that peregrines are panting at their nest.

The official thermometer said our high was 85F yesterday but at the Cathedral of Learning peregrines’ nest it was probably in the high 90’s by late morning because the rocky surface faces south in full sun.

The peregrines adapted, switching from incubating the eggs (which adds heat) to merely shading them for air circulation.  But that meant Dorothy and E2 had to stand in full sun to create the shade.  No wonder E2 is panting, above, with his wings open.

During the worst of the heat the pair relieved each other more often.  Dorothy gave E2 a break just after noon and, with the eggs in shadow, she took the opportunity to sunbathe. The sun probably felt good because she’d spent the last two hours in the shade.

Dorothy sunbathing (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy sunbathing (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)[/em]

She raises her feathers and pants to keep cool while the heat works its way to her skin.

Dorothy panting in the heat (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy panting while the eggs are in the shade. (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

 

Dorothy and E2 will be panting a lot in the next few days.  The forecast calls for sun with highs of 86-87F degrees.

Yes, it’s going to be hot.

 

(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera at University of Pittsburgh)

p.s. On Friday, May 8 the high temperature in Pittsburgh was 19 degrees above normal.

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May 07 2015

Sign of a Peregrine Fan

Published by under Peregrines

"I Love Peregrines" bumper sticker from Zazzle.com

“I Love Peregrines” bumper sticker with Dorothy’s portrait

Throw Back Thursday:

Three years ago I designed a bumper sticker to show I’m a fan of peregrines — and a fan of Dorothy’s.  My sticker had faded a little so I ordered a new one last week and then I thought …

Maybe you’d like one, too.

Click on the bumper sticker to order it at Zazzle.  Read the original blog post here: Sign of a Peregrine Fan.

 

A note about Hatching:  Dorothy and E2’s eggs are due to hatch this weekend so the cameras have been zoomed in to watch for pips in the eggs.  In the past it’s been normal that one of Dorothy’s 4-5 eggs does not hatch.  Because of Dorothy’s age (16!) it is likely that most of them will not hatch this year.  We shall see.

UPDATE:  Art McMorris, the PA Game Commission’s peregrine expert, has calculated that these eggs will hatch on Monday May 11.  So stay tuned.

 

(screenshot of bumper sticker on Zazzle with a photo of Dorothy by Pat Szczepanski)

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