This morning (March 17) around 11:15am sharp-eyed observers noticed that Dori had laid her fourth egg when Louie came for a bowing visit at the Gulf Tower.
Here they are discussing the fourth egg, no doubt.
But Dori is so tired that she forgot to pull it under her. Ooops! … Or maybe she’s letting this one dry.
Not to worry. This isn’t the first time an egg has been outside her “sphere.” When she was a first-time mother she sat like this for a few hours, then woke up and rearranged the eggs. They all hatched successfully.
It’s been a busy week for Pittsburgh’s peregrines. All of them are courting and claiming territory and the Gulf Tower has pair already laid two eggs.
The cold snap and the work week have slowed down our (human) ability to observe all eight nest sites but a warm weekend is coming so here’s an update on the birds’ activities and information on where to look for them.
At the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, Dorothy and E2 make courtship flights around the top of the building and bow at the nest. Typically E2 brings Dorothy a meal, then flies to the nest and calls her to join him at the scrape. These two aren’t as loud as the video above would lead you to believe but they do call to each other. You can’t see them from inside the building. Best viewing is from Schenley Plaza (click here for instructions) or on the NEW IMPROVED falconcam link with snapshots and archives! First egg will arrive within the next two weeks.
At the Gulf Tower Dori has laid two eggs and we’re expecting the third late today. We presume this pair is still Dori and Louie but are awaiting confirmation from the sharp-eyed observers at Make-A-Wish. Watch this pair at the north face of the Gulf Tower (click here for information) or online at the NEW Gulf Tower falconcam link.
The Tarentum Bridge peregrines have been very busy. Last weekend Rob Protz saw them mating, Steve Gosser took this photo. If you go, best viewing is from the boat ramp under the Tarentum Bridge. Check the superstructure on the upstream side and the railings on the pylons. You’ll probably see some of us “Falconuts” there if the weather is good. (Click here for directions from the 2012 nesting season.)
After a long winter without any peregrines at the Green Tree water tower this site has a very active pair right now. Several observers saw both birds last weekend and Shannon Thompson watched them mate several times on Saturday. Here’s one of her digi-scoped photos. Best viewing of their courtship is from the Olive Garden parking lot area across Greentree Road. You can also watch from the municipal park below the tower but it’s hard to see the courtship flights from there. (Click here for directions from 2013)
And at the other four bridges last weekend..
Westinghouse: Nathalie Picard saw one adult on the bridge last weekend.
Neville Island I-79 Bridge: Anne Marie Bosnyak saw both peregrines late in the day on Sunday March 9. (I saw Anne Marie when I stopped by at noon.) Click here for directions from 2013.
McKees Rocks Bridge: This bridge has no good viewing location so it’s hard to monitor. Whenever I am in the area I check the power towers and tall structures nearby. So far I’ve seen nothing.
Monaca & Beaver Bridges: This pair used the Monaca-East Rochester Bridge for many years but switched last year to the big railroad bridge that crosses from Monaca to Beaver. I didn’t see any peregrines when I scouted last Sunday though Tim and Karena Johnson have seen them. (Here’s what that railroad bridge looks like.)
It’s going to be a good weekend for peregrine watching. Let me know what you see.
(video of Dorothy and E2 bowing via WildEarth streaming, transcribed to YouTube by PittPeregrines. Photos: Tarentum peregrine flying by Steve Gosser, Green Tree water tower peregrine by Shannon Thompson)
p.s. If you’re having trouble seeing the cameras, click here for more information
A week ago, on March 3, I began to lose faith that the Downtown Pittsburgh peregrines were going to nest at the Gulf Tower this year.
Peregrines had nested there for 21 years (1991 – 2011) but they abandoned the site in 2012 during installation of the new rooftop lighting scheme and chose a nook at the back of a building on Fourth Avenue. We feared this new site was permanent because they nested there in 2012 and 2013.
The Fourth Avenue site was fraught with difficulties. Only 12 floors up, it was bad for peregrine fledglings because they had little room for gaining altitude during their first day of flight. Three of last year’s four fledglings had to be rescued from the ground. It was also bad for observers because we had no camera on the nest, the street below was an unpleasant place to wait and watch, and the nook was inaccessible for banding.
We had high hopes that the peregrines would return to the Gulf Tower when they spent many days courting there in February, but on March 2 they abruptly changed gears and began focusing their attention at Fourth Avenue. Oh no! For a week they were never in the Gulf Tower motion detection snapshots. I stopped by Fourth Avenue yesterday and found a peregrine perched at the old nook opening. Oh no! It looked like they were about to choose Fourth Avenue again.
This morning I checked the Gulf Tower camera to make sure it was on daylight savings time and behold, Dori was at the nest with an egg!!
I was so surprised I could barely believe my eyes!
Just to be sure, I captured several snapshots including Louie’s first visit before dawn.
The Downtown Pittsburgh peregrines were busy yesterday despite the snow.
They started their day at the Gulf Tower nest with some early morning courtship bowing. The female (presumed to be Dori) paused for a while at the scrape.
Falconcam motion detection noticed one more visit at 1:23pm, blurry because it was snowing heavily. And then the birds surprised me.
I thought the peregrines were focusing all their attention at the Gulf Tower, never at their old nest on Third Avenue, but one of them visited the old homestead last evening.
At 6:00pm a peregrine called loudly from Amanda McGuire’s balcony at Point Park University’s Lawrence Hall. She peeked out the door and took this photo of … is it Louie? Was he asking Dori to join him at Third Avenue?
Apparently the peregrines are working both ends of town.
Hold onto your hats! Peregrine courtship is in full swing and in only two weeks we may see the first peregrine egg in Pittsburgh.
Chad+Chris Saladin captured this shot of Titan and GG mating in Lakewood, Ohio early this month. Our peregrines are on the same schedule so you may be lucky to see this too, if you visit one of Pittsburgh’s nest sites.
University of Pittsburgh, Cathedral of Learning: Dorothy and E2 are at home every day. Their courtship includes fancy flying, food offerings from E2 to Dorothy, and mating, of course. On Monday I watched E2 chase a distant peregrine out of his airspace. He flew like an arrow, pumping his wings so the other peregrine could see him coming. By the time he caught up to that bird he was a speck in my binoculars. The intruder left quickly without a fight.
Gulf Tower: The downtown peregrines have come home to the Gulf Tower! Day after day they court and perch at the nestbox and the female digs in the gravel to prepare the nest. We presume this pair is still Dori and Louie who last nested here in 2011. Webcam snapshots of the female show Dori’s unique look including the color of her bands (haven’t read them yet) and her white shoulder “headlights.” Sooner or later we’ll know for sure. (Stay tuned for news of the falconcam.)
Monaca Bridges, Beaver County: Last year this pair nested on an inaccessible railroad bridge over the Ohio River where Tim and Karena Johnson saw them mating last Sunday. There are so many bridges to choose from that we can only hope they’ll return to Monaca-East-Rochester where they were easier to see and band.
Neville Island I-79 Bridge: Anne Marie Bosnyak visited the area on February 15 and found both peregrines perched in a tree on the Glenfield side of the river.
Westinghouse Bridge: Our #1 observer at this site, John English, has not been able to spend much time there so we have no recent sightings. If you’re in the area, take a look.
McKees Rocks Bridge: eBird reports that a peregrine was seen on Brunot’s Island (near the bridge) and Leslie Ferree saw one last Sunday. If you’re looking for waterfowl near the penitentiary at Doerr Street or on the Mckees Rocks side of the Ohio, check the power towers for a peregrine.
Green Tree water tower: Until yesterday morning the news here was “missing for many months” but yesterday Mary Jo Peden saw a peregrine perched on the water tower and Karena saw one (or both?) as well. This is the easiest site to check if you’re in traffic heading to town on the Parkway West.
Right now is the very best time to watch peregrines because they want to be seen — by other peregrines. Stop by any of these sites to check out their activity. Keep alert for peregrines on bridges and other tall structures and you might find a new nest site. Let me know what you see.
In as little as two weeks — March 13 — one of these nests may have an egg.
p.s. Yes, we know the camera cover is a bit dirty but we can’t go outside to clean it without disturbing the peregrines and possibly scaring them away from the Gulf Tower. We’ll clean it on Banding Day.
(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower, Pittsburgh)
Those of you who watch the Cathedral of Learning falconcams noticed that the streaming camera disappeared on Monday and didn’t come back right away. Here’s why.
On Monday morning, the University of Pittsburgh, the National Aviary and PixController teamed up to replace the old streaming video camera (“CAM1″) with a new high definition camera. Here you see Dave Marti of Pitt and Bill Powers of PixController preparing to install the new cam.
In the background Bob Mulvihill of the National Aviary held a broom to protect the team from peregrine attacks but the birds didn’t put in an appearance. It was too gray and cold (18F) and Dorothy was sleeping off her breakfast on the other side of the building. The broom came in handy for sweeping away the snow.
The nest ledge is so cramped that Dave and Bill had to use the nest surface.
The job was finished by noon but the camera didn’t work right away. Soon it was clear that the camera had to be “factory reset” before it would talk to the Internet. Ack!
We reconvened yesterday afternoon. Bill went out on the ledge, removed the camera dome and hit the reset button. Indoors, I used a computer to configure the camera. Bob held the broom and was again disappointed that the peregrines did not show up.
Though the camera isn’t broadcasting yet the first big hurdle is over. It’s installed and operating before the February 15 deadline that prohibits nest ledge access of this Pennsylvania endangered species.
Here’s what the camera looks like from the maintenance screen.
In the next few days WildEarth will configure the stream and the camera will become visible to the world.
We’re getting there.
(outdoor photo by Kate St. John, remaining photos from the National Aviary falconcams at the Cathedral of Learning)