Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

Jul 01 2015

Pitt Peregrine Fledgling Update from ARL

Published by under Peregrines

2015 Pitt peregrine fledgling checked by vet (photo courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

2015 Pitt peregrine fledgling checked by vet (photo courtesy ARL Wildlife Center)

Peregrine Update from Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center, 1 July 2015, 11:40am via Facebook … for the bird known as “Silver”:

“Wildlife Center staff took the falcon to be examined by Dr. Robert Wagner yesterday evening. A complete physical examination was conducted. The formerly missing primary feathers are almost completely grown, but our licensed rehabilitators & the veterinarian agree that the bird displays neurological deficits. A blood sample was taken to gain insight on these inconsistencies. A test is also being conducted to rule out lead poisoning. Supportive care will continue as the test results are pending. The falcon will continue to be treated by Wildlife Center staff.”

 

(photo courtesy Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center Facebook page.  Click on the image to visit their Facebook page)

17 responses so far

Jun 29 2015

She Took Off His Head

Published by under Peregrines

Storm attacks the banders, 22 June 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Storm attacks the banders, 22 June 2015 (photo by Dana Nesiti)

A week ago two peregrine nestlings were banded at the Westinghouse Bridge.  This coming weekend we’ll hold a Fledge Watch. That’s how fast they mature and fly.

Banding Day, June 22, was the most excitement Pittsburgh Falconuts had seen for a very long time.  The mother peregrine, Storm, put on quite a show when the PA Game Commission’s Dan Brauning came to town to band her babies.

The only way to reach the nest was by using PennDOT’s bucket truck but that didn’t make it easy.  Storm lived up to her name by frequently attacking the three men in the bucket, screaming at them the entire time.

Storm hits a man in the bucket truck (photo by Thomas Moeller)

Storm hits a man in the bucket truck (photo by Thomas Moeller)

She was full of tricky maneuvers and soon made a direct hit on somebody’s helmet.  We gasped as it fell 240 feet to the ground.   My heavens, she knocked off his head!   Whew… not really.

Storm knocks off a man's helmet as the bucket approaches her nest, 22 June 2015 (photo by Thomas Moeller)

Storm knocks off a helmet as the bucket approaches her nest, 22 June 2015 (photo by Thomas Moeller)

The closer the bucket came, the harder she pushed.

PGC's Dan Brauning holds out his hand as Storm attacks (photo by Dana Nesiti)

PGC’s Dan Brauning holds out his hand to fend off Storm as she attacks (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Dan Brauning gave her something to hit — his hand.

Storm, the hand, the broom. Yikes! (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Storm, the hand, the broom. Yikes! (photo by Dana Nesiti)

She screamed non-stop for half an hour until the banding was done and the men climbed back into the bucket.  With her quiet at last on the catwalk railing, Dan Brauning took a moment to congratulate her.

Dan Brauning has a heart-to-heart talk with Storm (photo by Thomas Moeller)

After the chicks are banded, Dan Brauning has a heart-to-heart talk with Storm (photo by Thomas Moeller)

As the bucket left the scene, Dan held up two fingers.  V for victory?  No, he means “2 chicks in the nest.”   1 male, 1 female.

Victory over peregrine? No, he means there are two chicks (photo by Thomas Moeller)

Two chicks (photo by Thomas Moeller)

Applause, applause!  And we all went home.

Stay tuned for the Westinghouse Bridge Fledge Watch schedule this coming Fourth of July weekend.   –> I don’t have dates and times yet because Westinghouse site monitor John English broke a rib last Friday.  Oh no!  Get well soon, John!

UPDATE July 2, 2015:
Fledge Watch has been canceled because Norfolk Southern Railroad doesn’t want us under the bridge. That area is their property.

 

(photos by Thomas J. Moeller and Dana Nesiti)

18 responses so far

Jun 25 2015

Location Disclosed

Published by under Peregrines

Pitt peregrine chick at Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, 25 June 2015 (photo from ARL Wildlife Facebook)

Pitt peregrine chick at Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, 25 June 2015 (photo from ARL Wildlife Facebook)

The Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center posted this on their Facebook page at 2:30pm today, June 25.

This morning, the PA Game Commission brought a Peregrine Falcon fledgling from its nest(*) in Oakland to our Wildlife Center for care. We have admitted it for medical evaluation, which will occur over the next several days. The bird does not have appropriate flight feathers and may have some neurological issues. It will remain under our care until decisions can be made in the bird’s best interest.

The Animal Rescue League will provide further updates on the falcon’s medical condition and the future treatment plan once this is determined.

If you would like to donate to help support the care of the falcon, please do so by visiting our website at www.animalrescue.org/donate and type “Falcon” in the notes section.

 

The bold emphasis above is my own but it’s true:  If you want to help Silver, donate to the ARL Wildlife Center.  They are a non-profit organization and do really good work!

And, please, no visits or calls.  The Wildlife Center will provide updates as they have news.

 

p.s. * Slight correction to the text above: Silver was not brought literally “from the nest” but from his landing place near Hillman Library in Oakland.  Here’s what happened.

(photo from Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center Facebook page.  Click here to visit ARL Wildlife on the web)

UPDATE, 26 JUNE 2015 from Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center:

“Peregrine Update: The Peregrine Falcon we received yesterday is settling in at our Wildlife Center. Upon initial exam, the bird was found to be dehydrated and thin. There are missing flight feathers, but new feather growth is apparent. In addition, one of the bird’s feet is noticeably weaker than the other. The bird has an appointment with a specialty vet on Tuesday & we will pass along any information that is discovered at that time. To be clear, our hope & goal is to rehabilitate the falcon so that it may eventually be returned to the wild. Long term goals, treatments, and plans will be developing as our Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators work alongside the Veterinarian.”

 

 

36 responses so far

Jun 24 2015

On His Way To Rehab

Published by under Peregrines

Pitt peregrine chick, right wing feather defect -- before first flight (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Pitt peregrine chick, right wing feather defect, 21 June 2015, 8:41am — before first flight (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

This afternoon the Pitt peregrine chick flew for the second time and landed, unscathed, on the patio at Hillman Library.  Though Fledge Watchers were on the scene from noon to 2:30pm we missed him again, though we did see his parents.

Silver’s second flight was another straight down drop from the nest location, a vertical distance of 400 feet.  In the 14 years I’ve monitored this nest, we have never had a fledgling land on the ground on his first flight, let alone his second.

This unusual performance was puzzling to the PA Game Commission so they took a very close look at the bird.  Silver wasn’t injured by his two trips but his right wing has a feather-growth defect that explains why he can’t fly well.  Officer Puhala called me to say he had recovered the bird at Hillman Library and the defect is sending the fledgling to rehab.

I looked for motion detection snapshots of the feather defect and was surprised it was so obvious.  It was there before he took his first flight.  We just never noticed. (All of the photos are from early morning June 21 before Silver left the nest.)

As you can see, his right wing is missing most of its secondaries, one of his primaries is flipped, and his upper wing coverts are short or missing.  Simply put, Silver’s wings are lopsided.  Of course he goes straight to the ground.

In this condition he cannot learn to hunt and would not survive his first year in the wild.  If it’s not a permanent defect — if he actually has the proper feather follicles — then he must go through a complete molt (a year from now) before he can begin to fly.  After the molt he will have to be taught to hunt before he can be released.  If his feather defect is permanent, he will become an education bird.  In any case, he’ll be in rehab for quite a while.

Below are more photos from before he ever attempted to fly.

Pitt peregrine chick, right wing feather defect -- before first flight (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Pitt peregrine chick, right wing feathering defect, 21 June, 8:41am — before first flight (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

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Pitt peregrine chick, right wing feather defect -- before first flight (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Pitt peregrine chick, right wing feathering defect — before first flight (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

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Pitt peregrine chick, right wing feather defect -- before first flight (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Pitt peregrine chick, right wing feather defect — before first flight (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

In late May we knew he was a special needs bird.  Now he’ll get the special attention he needs.

 

p.s. At this time we do not know what caused the defect.

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

74 responses so far

Jun 23 2015

Another Piece of the Puzzle

Peregrine chick on the lawn with a red-tailed hawk (photo by Mike Meucci)

Red-tailed hawk looking at the Peregrine chick on the lawn, 21 June 2015, 11:26am. The lawn is big!  (photo by Mike Meucci)

What did the Pitt peregrine chick do when he flew on Sunday June 21 and when did he do it?

Yesterday I received some photos that filled in a piece of the puzzle.

On Sunday morning Mike Meucci was on campus near Heinz Chapel when he saw two birds of prey on the lawn. The two looked like an adult and youngster but they were actually a red-tailed hawk with Silver(*), the Pitt peregrine chick.  Unaware of their identity, Mike took several pictures.

The photos indicate that some time before 11:26am Silver had flown from the nest and landed with amazing accuracy in the roped off area where humans aren’t allowed to walk.  In the first photo you can see Fifth Avenue, Tennyson, and Alumni Hall in the background.

A red-tailed hawk came down to see the peregrine.  Notice the size difference.  Peregrine falcons are indeed smaller than red-tailed hawks.  And notice that their faces differ.  The peregrine has a malar stripe.

Red-tailed hawk with Pitt peregrine chick, 21 June 2015, 11:27am (photo by Mike Meucci)

Red-tailed hawk with Pitt peregrine chick, 21 June 2015, 11:27am (photo by Mike Meucci)

Fledgling peregrines are curious, not threatening, but Dorothy and E2 beat up the campus red-tailed hawks if they dare to fly above the treetops.  This hawk knows Silver’s parents well and keeps a low profile.

The red-tailed hawk scanned the sky a lot.  “I hope your parents don’t see me!”

Red-tailed hawk with Pitt peregrine chick, 21 June 2015, 11:27am (photo by Mike Meucci)

Red-tailed hawk with Pitt peregrine chick, 21 June 2015, 11:27am (photo by Mike Meucci)

“Just thinking about peregrines makes me raise my head feathers!”

Red-tailed hawk with Pitt peregrine chick, 21 June 2015, 11:27am (photo by Mike Meucci)

Red-tailed hawk with Pitt peregrine chick, 21 June 2015, 11:27am (photo by Mike Meucci)

Unfazed by this encounter, Silver later walked to Heinz Chapel and climbed the steps where he was reported to and guarded by the Pitt Police.

When Fledge Watchers heard the peregrine chick was on the ground at 2:30pm we were temporarily confused because we never saw him fly.  (Of course! He was on the lawn more than half an hour before we began our watch at noon.)  And we wondered if the report was about a red-tailed hawk since they often stand on the ground.

Well, yes, there was a red-tailed hawk on the ground near Heinz Chapel … but that was three hours earlier.

 

(photos by Mike Meucci)

(*) A NOTE ABOUT THE BIRD’S NAME:  If you have questions/comments about the temporary name “Silver”  first read the information at these links: How peregrine chicks get temporary names and adults get permanent names, and How the name does not affect the bird’s destiny.  Please be sure to read the all comments at these links — all the way back to June 1 — as well as the name comments here before posting your own comment about names.  My apologies in advance, but if your comment was already asked/answered it will not be posted here.

60 responses so far

Jun 22 2015

He Flew Under the Radar

Published by under Peregrines

Pitt peregrine chick, 21 June 2015 before his adventure (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Pitt peregrine chick, 21 June 2015 before his adventure (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Some time yesterday morning while no one was watching — not even his parents — the Pitt peregrine chick made his first flight and had a big adventure.

He landed near Heinz Chapel and climbed the steps, was guarded by Pitt Police and returned to his nest at 2:40pm by a PA Game Commission Officer.

Two blocks away at Schenley Plaza, 10 to 12 of us had been at Fledge Watch since noon with a clear view of the airspace between the nest and Heinz Chapel.  We never saw him fly and his parents, Dorothy and E2, were acting normally, flying together, spending time near the nest and looking into the gully as if the chick was there. As Fledge Watchers we cue on the parents to find the “kids.”  Dorothy and E2 didn’t even glance toward Heinz Chapel.  None of us knew.  He flew under the radar.

Yesterday was Music Day at the Schenley tent so we couldn’t hear our cellphones ring but at 2:30pm we suddenly saw calls and text messages that Jody Rosenberg reported the chick on the ground with Pitt Police at Heinz Chapel.  Talk about confusion!  We’d been watching for 2.5 hours and saw nothing!  How could this be true?

And in fact, at that moment the bird was in the elevator on his way back to the nest.   I ran to the Cathedral of Learning and met the Pitt Police and PGC Officers when they came down to the lobby.  Apparently the bird was reported before noon and yes, PGC confirmed that he was banded “43/BR.”   We could see him on the webcam on our cellphones.

Back at nest, he yelled at his rescuer and his parents, had a big dinner and a good long afternoon nap.

Today he’s ready to try again.

 

(photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

24 responses so far

Jun 20 2015

When Will The Pitt Nestling Fly?

Published by under Peregrines

Peregrine nestling at Pitt, 17 June 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Peregrine nestling at Pitt, 17 June 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Ever since the Pitt peregrine nestling jumped to the green perch, online watchers are a-buzz with this question:

When will the Cathedral of Learning nestling fly?

Answer: We don’t know.

It’s always difficult to predict Fledge Dates. Though the rule of thumb says they fledge 38-45 days after hatch, the timing depends on age, sex and physical condition.  Some break the rules, as did the early males this month at Neville Island Bridge and Downtown.

This year’s Pitt nestling is even more challenging to predict because:

  • The chick has (or had) delayed development.  At 19-days-old it had 14-day-old feather growth.  Will it fledge 5 days late?  We don’t know.
  • Fledge dates are earlier for male nestlings than for females because the males are lighter weight.  Is this bird a male or a female?  We don’t know.

Thoughts on the bird’s sex keep fluctuating.  The size of his legs/feet say he’s male (males have smaller feet), but when we see she’s nearly the size of Dorothy now we think she’s female.

Dorothy feeding Pitt nestling, 17 June 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy feeding Pitt nestling, 17 June 2015 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

And none of this matters anyway.  The bird will fly on its own schedule.

At the Cathedral of Learning here’s what peregrine chicks do as they approach Fledge Date:

  1. First adventure: Nestling “Ledge Walks” off camera and/or explores below the nestYou can’t see him but he has not flown yet.  (Online video watchers, for you the bird will simply disappear.  Click the links to see pictures and videos showing what actually happens.)
  2. For several days: More adventures back & forth to the nest.  He has not flown yet.
  3. At some point: Leaves the nest for a nearby ledge and doesn’t return.  On the day this happens he has not flown yet.
  4. A couple of days after Step 3 the nestling flies for the first time and lands up high on the Cathedral of Learning.

WARNING:  During this period curious people can scare the chick into premature flight that will end his life in a crash.  No close view or photo is “innocent.”  If you’re in Pittsburgh, stay away from the nesting area.  You don’t want to be the one who scared the chick and killed him!

Online watchers, you will know the bird will fly in a few days when you don’t see him on camera anymore.  Your watching will end long before the bird flies.

In Pittsburgh our watching will be extended as we view the peregrines from Schenley Plaza and later watch the juvenile on campus into the month of July.

Pittsburgh Peregrine Fans, come on down to the Schenley Plaza tent and I’ll show you where to look.  Watch Dorothy and E2 do flight demonstrations and prey exchanges!  See Dorothy beat up turkey vultures, even bald eagles!   Click here for the calendar. p.s. I won’t be there in rain or thunder.

 

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

21 responses so far

Jun 20 2015

Blood Test Results, 29 May 2015

Published by under Peregrines

The active nestling at Pitt, 20 June 2015 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam)

The active nestling at Pitt, 20 June 2015 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam)

Late yesterday I received this summary of the Pitt nestling’s blood test results from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Some of you have expressed an interest in this information so I am posting it here.

“When examined on banding day, the nestling was found to be significantly infested with blood-sucking ectoparasites and was given appropriate treatment.

Blood tests conducted by Dr. Wagner revealed that the nestling was anemic, probably due to the ectoparasites, but the complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry results were within normal limits. The only abnormality was a low packed cell volume indicating anemia.

Tests for West Nile Virus, Avian Influenza Virus and internal parasites were negative.”

The blood sample was taken on Banding Day, 29 May 2015, at the Cathedral of Learning when the peregrine chick was 19 days old.

 

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

24 responses so far

Jun 19 2015

Out In The Wide World

Published by under Peregrines

The last nestling (#3) at the Downtown nest on Wed. June 17, 2015 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Last nestling, #3, at the Downtown nest, Wed. June 17, 2015 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Today the Downtown Pittsburgh nest is empty.  All three young peregrines are out in the wide world.

On Wednesday Lori Maggio captured a portrait of #3 waiting at the nest ledge for just the right moment to leave.

By midday Thursday the bird had already flown and been rescued when Lori saw her on the Frick Building near the rescue porch.

Fledgling #3 above the rescue porch, Thurs. 18 June 2015 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Fledgling #3 near the rescue porch, Thurs. 18 June 2015 (photo by Lori Maggio)

#3 didn’t linger.  She soon flew to join her brothers on another high building.  Read about her adventures here.

As I mentioned last evening, if the young peregrines stay up high the official Downtown Fledge Watch is over today.  (Official Fledge Watch ends when the birds have graduated to the upper air and are out of ground-based danger.). UPDATE AT 9:00AM: Rain and there are no peregrines near the ground. We’re done!

You can always watch the peregrines on your own schedule.  If you do please post a comment to tell us what you see.  We’d love to know!

Today I’ll be at two peregrine sites:  Downtown Fledge Watch (8:15am to 10:00am) and Pitt Peregrine Viewing (12:00pm to 2:00pm).

Join me at the Schenley Plaza tent in the days ahead to watch the peregrines at the Cathedral of Learning.  Click here for the complete Pitt peregrine calendar.  NOTE: I will not be out there in rain or thunderstorms.

 

(photos of Downtown peregrine fledgling #3 by Lori Maggio)

p.s. Don’t forget the Westinghouse Bridge peregrine banding on Monday, June 22 — full details here.

3 responses so far

Jun 18 2015

Fledge Watch: Last Day may be Friday 6/19

Published by under Peregrines

Fledgling #3 on the rescue porch, 18 June 2015 (photo by Frank Baker)

Fledgling #3 on the rescue porch, 18 June 2015 (photo by Frank Baker)

That was quick!  I thought we’d have to watch on Saturday, but if all goes well tomorrow Fledge Watch will end on Friday June 19.

Fledgling #3 flew so early today (June 18) that our early morning watcher, Doug Cunzolo, didn’t see it happen.  He found a silent nest and no parents.  Doug checked everywhere for #3 but found nothing.

I couldn’t find her either but her parents gave me a clue.  At 9:00am Dori plucked prey on the Macy’s roof, then flew with it up Grant Street toward the City-County Building.  On Grant Street Louie watched the front of the Courthouse from a high corner on Frick.  They must be looking for someone.  Was #3 on the Courthouse?  Marcia Cooper examined the Courthouse ledges from inside the Frick Building but found nothing.

#3 was not on the Courthouse.  She was in it.

Someone found her on Ross Street, put her in a box and took her to the County Sheriff inside the Courthouse.  The Sheriff called the Game Commission and PGC Officer Puhala delivered her to the rescue porch.  Frank Baker took her picture (above) just after she arrived.

Within 10 minutes #3 had jumped up to the parapet and was exercising her wings.  Within an hour she’d flown from Frick to another high building, perhaps to Citizen’s Bank where at least one of her brothers was hanging out.  Several of us saw Dori and Louie make food deliveries to that roof.

This photo by Terry Wiezorek shows a juvenile peregrine on Citizen’s Bank.  It might be #3 because she would still be exercising her wings on Day 1 of her flight career.

Juvenile peregrine on top of Citizen's Bank Building (photo by Terry Wiezorek)

Juvenile peregrine on top of Citizen’s Bank Building (photo by Terry Wiezorek)

Up high is good!  With parents is good!

If the juvies continue to stay up high with their parents on Friday, then the official Fledge Watch ends at the end of the day June 19.

Thank you, everyone, for all your help!

 

(photos by Frank Baker and Terry Wiezorek)

4 responses so far

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