Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

Jun 06 2014

Peregrine News Around Town

Published by under Peregrines

Dorothy at Pitt, no egg (photo from National Aviary falconcam)

Dorothy at Pitt, no egg (photo from National Aviary falconcam)

 

Peregrine activity at Pittsburgh’s two fledged nest sites has moved out of easy view but three locations still await the excitement of first flight.  Here’s the latest peregrine news in a long blog post.  Don’t miss the end as the best is always last.

 

Cathedral of Learning:

PGC's Tom Keller collects the unincubated egg at Pitt (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam)

PGC’s Tom Keller collects unincubated egg at Pitt (photo from the National Aviary snapshot cam)

Yesterday Tom Keller of the PA Game Commission removed Dorothy and E2′s unincubated egg.  This was not to change Dorothy’s mind about standing at the nest but to test the egg.  Dorothy and E2 always visit the nest at this time of year and Dorothy loves to sunbathe there.

Some of you were worried that the peregrines were sad about the egg.  I don’t think so.  Not sad, just bored.

Meanwhile the infrared lamp that provides night vision has burned out so the nighttime video looks like “snow.”  We will replace the lamp before the next nesting season.

 

Gulf Tower:

Two fledglings exercise their wings on the Gulf Tower pyramid roof, 31 May 2014 (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

Two fledglings exercise their wings on the Gulf Tower pyramid roof, 31 May 2014 (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

Last Saturday at Fledge Watch we saw two juveniles on the Gulf Tower roof while the remaining three nestlings waited to launch.  By dawn on Wednesday only one female remained at the nest.  She looked as if she was ready to fly but she was cautious — a good trait in the urban environment where buildings, glass, and chimneys pose unnatural threats to survival.  She flew on Wednesday.
One juvenile at the Gulf Tower nest at dawn, 4 June 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

That same day at the U.S. Steel Tower, a friend of Steve Gosser’s sent him a mystery photograph, “What is this bird?”  A juvenile peregrine outside the office window!  The Gulf Tower “kids” are exploring Downtown.

Peregrine fledgling outside a window of the USSteel Tower, 4 June 2014 (photo by Anonymous)

Peregrine fledgling at U.S.Steel Tower, 4 June 2014 (photographer is anonymous)

 

Green Tree water tower:

Green Tree water tower, nesting territory of a pair of peregrines (photo by Shannon Thompson)

(photo by Shannon Thompson)

No peregrines have been confirmed at the Green Tree water tower for many weeks though several of us have looked while driving by. This site has been disappointing for two years in a row. If you do see a peregrine at the water tower, let me know.

 

Tarentum Bridge:

Peregrine "Hope" at the Tarentum Bridge (photo by Steve Gosser)

Mother peregrine, Hope, at the Tarentum Bridge (photo by Steve Gosser)

Though there were two fledglings at the Tarentum Bridge on May 29, only one has been seen since then.  Time will tell if the second one is merely hiding or gone missing. If you see one or both at Tarentum, let me know.

 

Westinghouse Bridge:

Westinghouse Bridge (photo by Joseph Elliott, Library of Congress)Tom Keller checked the Westinghouse nest on May 30 and found the female still on eggs.  He’ll check again in mid-June.

 

McKees Rocks Bridge:

McKees Rocks Bridge (photo by Robert Strovers on Wikimedia Commons)

McKees Rocks Bridge (photo by Robert Strovers on Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

Old news, but good news…  On May 23, the PA Game Commission and PennDOT used the bucket truck to search for the peregrines’ nest at the McKees Rocks Bridge. Despite their efforts they were unable to locate the nest because the peregrines defended an inaccessible area. They confirmed that the female is unbanded while the male is still Bravo (V over H (blk/green)) from Cleveland’s Terminal Tower in 1999, son of Zenith and Bullet. He was first recorded at McKees Rocks in 2008. This year he’s 15 years old. His unbanded mate indicates that female peregrines from remote sites (or perhaps from man-made inaccessible sites) are finding homes in Pittsburgh.

 

Neville Island I-79 Bridge:

Magnum walks the I-beam toward her nest (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

Magnum near her nest at Neville I-79 Bridge, 25 May 2014 (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

At the Neville Island I-79 Bridge one female chick is getting ready to fledge.  She was 22 days old when banded on May 28 so she’ll probably fly June 14-19.  The nest location makes for an easy Fledge Watch so stay tuned for dates, times and directions. The Watch will probably begin on Friday, June 13th — perhaps sooner! Pittsburgh Falconuts, look for news from Anne Marie Bosnyak.

 

Monaca East Rochester Bridge:

Female peregrine at Monaca-East-Rochester Bridge, 2012 (photo by Steve Leiendecker)

Female peregrine at Monaca-East-Rochester Bridge, 2012 (photo by Steve Leiendecker)

Four chicks — three females and one male — were banded at the Monaca-East Rochester Bridge on May 21 at 18 days old.  They will probably fledge from June 11 to 16.  Start watching on June 10 (or earlier!) and you’ll see lots of activity beneath the bridge.  It’s easy to see the bridge from the community park on the Monaca downriver side.  Keep an eye out for the mother peregrine!  I hear she is very fierce.

 

(photo credits are in the captions except for: Westinghouse Bridge photo by Joseph Elliott, Library of Congress and Gulf Tower juvenile at the nest from the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower)

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Jun 01 2014

News From Gulf Peregrine Fledge Watch

Published by under Peregrines

Gulf Tower Fledge Watch, 31 Mat 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)

An enthusiastic crowd of seven watched seven peregrines yesterday afternoon at Flag Plaza.  To beat the heat we stayed in the shade.

The view from the plaza takes in all the key buildings where Downtown Pittsburgh’s peregrines hang out plus a lot of airspace nearby.

The Fledge Watch view from Flag Plaza (photo by Kate St. John)

 

We saw all five juveniles — three at the nest zone and two on the Gulf Tower pyramid roof.  From their behavior we surmised that:

  • Two have fledged.  Last night we saw a juvenile fly around the roof of the U.S. Steel Tower and another on the stone “ball” on top of Gulf’s pyramid.  Two juveniles spent this afternoon on the pyramid steps — probably the same two.
  • Three juveniles spent all day at the nest zone but often out of webcam view.  They use adjacent ledges (same floor) to make short practice flights from pillar to pillar.  If you’re watching on the Internet you think they’re gone.  Nope!
  • All five juveniles did some energetic flapping.  We saw one fly when Dori stopped by the pyramid with a treat.
  • Louie and Dori perch on the high corners of the U.S. Steel Tower (UPMC) to watch their “kids.”  At one point both peregrine parents were on U.S.Steel and the five juvies were in view on Gulf.  The entire peregrine family!

When peregrine watching was dull, local wildlife caught our attention including: a male American kestrel, a northern mockingbird, chimney swifts, northern rough-winged swallows, American robins, common grackles, a yellow warbler, house finches, song sparrows, house sparrows, and European starlings.  And we saw a groundhog climb a tree by the parking lot!  Going up was easy for this large rodent.  Down was a stumble.

Groundhog in a tree at Flag Plaza, 31 May 2014 (photo by Kate St.John)

 

Flag Plaza has lots of free parking and a good view of seven peregrines.  Come on down today, June 1, noon to 4:00pm.  Click here for directions.

(photos by Kate St. John)

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May 30 2014

Reminder: Gulf Fledge Watch This Weekend

Third peregrine chick about to take off, 6:30am May 30 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Join us at Flag Plaza above Downtown Pittsburgh to watch the Gulf Tower peregrines fledge.  We’ve added an hour this evening because we know that 3 of them have already fledged.  (The one that’s flapping took off just after this snapshot!)

  • TODAY May 30, 7:00pm-8:00pm.
  • Saturday May 31, noon to 4:00pm
  • Sunday June 1, noon to 4:00pm.

Click here for more information and directions.

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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May 30 2014

Neville Island Peregrine News

Published by under Peregrines

Male peregrine at Neville Island I-79 shouts as Dan Brauning takes his picture (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

Frozen in time, the female peregrine at the Neville Island I-79 Bridge shouts at the PA Game Commission’s Tom Keller and Patti Barber as they arrive to band his nestling on Wednesday May 28.  Patti took his picture.  This male is banded!  We won’t know his identity until Patti’s photo tells the tale.

I was out of town Wednesday morning and missed the excitement.  Anne Marie Bosnyak, Peter Bell, and Laura Marshall observed the banding from nearby.  While we wait for official news from the Game Commission, here’s what we know so far.

Based on Anne Marie’s close observations, we think incubation began on April 1.  Hatching probably occurred on May 6 when Anne Marie watched the male bring food into the nest and then bring it back out when the female — still in the nest — told him “Not yet.”  On May 25 Anne Marie used her new camera (yay!) to confirm that the female is still Magnum, hatched in 2010 at Canton, Ohio.

Below, Magnum walks the girder to the nest hole on May 25.  The floor of the nest is that plate with many rivets.
Magnum walks the I-beam toward her nest, Neville I-79 Bridge (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

Thanks to PennDOT’s assistance, Patti and Tom got access to the site on Wednesday at 9:00am.  To everyone’s surprise, Magnum stayed in the nest while the male flew around and shouted.  (Typically the female attacks while the male stays back.)  PGC found only one chick in the nest, a female, plus some unhatched eggs which they took for testing.

Here Tom Keller holds the chick for banding.

Tom Keller holds the female chick at Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

Congratulations to Magnum and her mate whose chick will fledge June 14-19.

Meanwhile we look forward to hearing of her father’s identity.

 

(photos by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

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May 29 2014

Gulf Tower Fledgling Visits Liberty Center

Published by under Peregrines

@PondLadyDi had a visitor outside her office this afternoon! Here are two tweets I received with pictures of one of the Gulf Tower fledglings.

Liberty Center, at 1001 Liberty Avenue, is almost due north of the Gulf Tower with a clear view of the nest.

Peregrine fledgling at Liberty Center (photo and Tweet from @PondLadyDi)

Gulf Tower fledgling at Liberty Center (photo by @PondLadyDi)

He looks as if he landed in a puddle but he was able to navigate and leave the railing.

(photos snapped by D Schaub a.k.a. @PondLadyDi)

 

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May 23 2014

Two At Tarentum

Published by under Peregrines

Peregrine chick, Tarentum Bridge, 22 May 2014 (photo by Sean Dicer)

Peregrine chick, Tarentum Bridge, 22 May 2014 (photo by Sean Dicer)

A small, enthusiastic crowd was on hand yesterday morning for the peregrine banding at the Tarentum Bridge, rewarded by close looks — and photos — of the two peregrine chicks: one male and one female.

The event began at the boat launch parking lot where viewers watched as the PA Game Commission’s Dan Brauning and Tom Keller and the PennDOT crew swung the bucket under the bridge to the nest hole on the main-channel arch.  We knew the nest location because Rob Protz, myself, and others had seen juvenile peregrines peeking from the hole.

PennDOT bucket approaches the nest hole, 22 May 2014 (photo by Mike Fialkovich)

PennDOT bucket approaches the nest hole, 22 May 2014 (photo by Mike Fialkovich)

The adult peregrines attacked but could not deter the banders.  However, when the bucket got to the nest hole the two chicks were huddled far inside out of reach.  Tom Keller crawled into the hole!  Look at him stand on the bucket edge before he disappeared inside!  Yow!

PGC Wildlife Biologist Tom Keller disappears into the peregrines' nest hole, Banding Day Tarentum, 22 May 2014 (photo by John English)

PGC Wildlife Biologist Tom Keller disappears into the peregrines’ nest hole, Banding Day Tarentum, 22 May 2014 (photo by John English)

Tom retrieved the chicks and the bucket swung up to the sidewalk to weigh and band them.  The crowd joined to watch.

Tom Keller, left, and Dan Brauning, right, band peregrine chicks at Tarentum Bridge, 22 May 2014 (photo by Mike Fialkovich)

Tom Keller and Dan Brauning band a peregrine chick at the Tarentum Bridge (photo by Mike Fialkovich)

Each chick received two bands: US Fish & Wildlife on the right leg, color band on the left leg.  Here, Dan Brauning crimps the silver USFW band.

USFW band on Tarentum peregrine chick (photo by Sean Dicer)

USFW band on Tarentum peregrine chick (photo by Sean Dicer)

 

Dan estimated the chicks were 35 days old yesterday — only four to nine days away from first flight.  Rather then put them back in the nest hole, exposed over open water, Dan wet them down (to keep them from trying to fly right away) and placed them on the mid-river bridge pier where there’s a good “runway” for take off.

Stop by the Tarentum Bridge soon to watch these young peregrines.  They’ll be making their first flight some time between Memorial Day and the end of the month.

Peregrine chick banded at the Tarentum Bridge (photo by Sean Dicer)

Peregrine chick banded at the Tarentum Bridge (photo by Sean Dicer)

Let the fun begin!

(Thanks to photographers Sean Dicer, Mike Fialkovich and John English for generously lending their photos)

p.s. Click here for Mary Ann Thomas’ report at Alle-Kiski TRIBlive

10 responses so far

May 22 2014

Gulf Tower Fledge Watch: May 31, June 1

Published by under Peregrines

Location of Flag Plaza (via John Enlgish on Pittsburgh Faclonuts Facebook page) I don’t know about you but without a successful nest at Pitt this spring I’m starved for a Fledge Watch at Schenley Plaza.  It’s always been a great time to get together and indulge our passion for peregrines.

With that in mind, Pittsburgh Falconut John English and I are going to hold a Gulf Tower Fledge Watch at Flag Plaza on Saturday May 31 and Sunday June 1.

My “guess-timate” is that the Gulf Tower chicks will fledge between May 29 and June 3 with the most exciting activity on Sunday June 1.

Where: Flag Plaza (Boy Scouts building), 1275 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
When:  Saturday May 31 & Sunday June 1, noon to 4:00pm, weather permitting.

John or I (or both of us) will be on site during those times — though not if it’s raining or stormy.

Come for as little or as long as you’d like.  Bring binoculars if you have them.

Hope to see you there!

Please leave a comment below if you plan to come.

(map from John English via Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook page)

3 responses so far

May 22 2014

Peregrine News: Monaca and Westinghouse

Published by under Peregrines

Monaca East Rochester Bridge, 2012(photo by PGC WCO Steve Leiendecker)

Monaca East Rochester Bridge:

With thunderstorms predicted yesterday (they never happened) the peregrine bandings at Tarentum and McKees Rocks Bridges were postponed until today.   Instead, the PA Game Commission’s Dan Brauning and Tom Keller went to the Ohio River in Beaver County to the Monaca East Rochester Bridge pictured above.

Last year this peregrine pair nested on the huge inaccessible Monaca-to-Beaver railroad bridge.  No one could tell if the nest was successful. This year they appeared to have come home so Dan and Tom investigated.  Dan wrote on May 21:

Tom Keller, I, and a team from PennDOT accessed the bridge this morning, and found 4 healthy chicks, 1 male and 3 females. The birds are about 18 days old today.

The adult female is an extraordinarily aggressive bird, hitting every one of us during our visit under the bridge.  She is the same female as was previously observed there — 75/Y, from Harrisburg.  If you know Tom, ask him about his new scar.  The male never came close.

Local observers that could be on the lookout for fledging in about 25 days would be appreciated.  The nest is far out over water, about 3 bays out from the pier on the Monaca side of the river.  The young should be able to get onto the catwalk, and therefore have good prospects for developing strongly before fledging.

Here’s a photo of this amazingly aggressive mother peregrine, 75/Y, taken on banding day in 2012 by Game Commission WCO Steve Leiendecker before she attacked him.  She never gives up.
Female peregrine at Monaca-East-Rochester Bridge, 2012 (photo by Steve Leiendecker)

If you’re in the Monaca area, start monitoring this bridge on June 11 for fledging activity (that’s four days ahead of “25 days”).

 

Westinghouse Bridge:

Westinghouse Bridge with PennDOT bucket truck about to look for peregrines' nest (photo by John English)
Tuesday afternoon, after the Gulf Tower banding, Dan and Tom went to the Westinghouse Bridge where a peregrine pair has been active for several years.

Using the bucket truck they looked for signs of a nest under the bridge while John English took photos from below.

PGC & PennDOT look for the peregrines' nest at the Westinghouse Bridge, 20 May 2014 (photo by John English)

The male was present but no female came out to “kak” and attack.

Male peregrine at Westinghouse Bridge (photo by John English)

Surprisingly, she was still incubating three eggs.  This is a late nest, perhaps a renesting after a territorial fight between males.  The female is still Hecla (68/H) from Ohio’s Ironton-Russleton Bridge 2009, resident since 2012.

If you’re in the vicinity of East Pittsburgh/North Versailles, please check under this bridge for peregrine activity.  There’s no way we’ll know if the nest is successful without some watchful eyes below.

 

(Monaca photos from May 2012 by WCO Steve Leiendecker, PA Game Commission. Westinghouse photos by John English)

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May 21 2014

Fledge Watch Coming Soon!

Published by under Peregrines

Gulf Tower peregrine chick on Banding Day, 20 May 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)

Today the three oldest Gulf Tower peregrine chicks are 31 days old.  Click on the photo above for a slideshow of yesterday’s banding event and you’ll see that a few of the five chicks are brown while at least one is quite downy.  They grow up fast!

I’ve tracked Pittsburgh peregrine fledge dates for many years and if my records are any indication the Gulf Tower chicks will fledge at 39 to 44 days.  That’s next Thursday, May 29 through Tuesday, June 3.   I could be wrong. They might be earlier or later…

Pittsburgh Falconut John English and I will organize a Gulf Tower Fledge Watch for next week — dates and times to be announced.  Here’s the view John had from Flag Plaza during yesterday’s banding.  (Notice Dori flying in to attack the banders!)  As at the Cathedral of Learning we’ll have a good long view to see all the action.

Dori flies in to attack the banders at Gulf Tower (view from Flag Plaza by John English)

Check back here or on Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook page for Gulf Tower Fledge Watch dates and times.  Coming soon!

(photos by Kate St. John)

p.s. Click here for KDKA’s news of the Banding Event.

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May 20 2014

Two Males, One Female and Two …?

Published by under Peregrines

Peregrine chick from the Gulf Tower nest, Banding Day, 20 May 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)

Today’s peregrine banding at the Gulf Tower was a happy return to Pittsburgh’s first nest site. Peregrines nested there continuously from 1991 to 2011 but left it in 2012 and 2013 while workmen were installing the new lighting scheme on the roof.

After two years on a short building Dori and Louie came back to the 37th floor and so did Dan Brauning, PA Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Chief, and Tom Keller, PGC biologist.  Dori remembered the routine and was on guard as soon as Gulf Tower Maintenance popped open the access window.  She’s seen this before!

Dori waits to defend her chicks against the banders (photo by Kate St. John)

Dan and Tom carefully went out on the ledge.  Not only is it a sheer drop to the street but Dori and Louie attacked while the men very gently collected the chicks.

Dori strafes Tom Keller (photo by Kate St. John)

Indoors all five chicks passed their physical exam with flying colors but it was hard to sex them by weight. At 28-30 days old there was one obvious female, two males, and two others on the weight borderline between male and female designation. Dan gave them female bands and listed them as “unknown.” We’ll certainly find out what sex they are when they nest.

Three Gulf Tower chicks after banding (photo by Kate St. John)

The “kids” were back in the nest in no time, had a quick snack and fell asleep.  The excitement was so much for them that they slept for several hours … like babies.  :)

 

I’ll be putting my best photos into a slideshow soon.  Watch this space for more!

 

(photos by Kate St. John)

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