Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

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.

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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.

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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)

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Jun 18 2015

Still Waiting For #3

Published by under Peregrines

Downtown nestling #3 still waiting to fly, 17 June 2015 (photo by Mary deVaughn)

Downtown nestling #3 still waiting to fly (photo by Mary deVaughn)

We thought peregrine nestling #3 would make her first flight in Downtown Pittsburgh on Monday or Tuesday but she disappointed us and remained nest-bound on Wednesday, too. (June 17)

She’s showing promise, though.  Yesterday Marcia Cooper captured a cellphone photo of #3 perched on the railing.  Silly me, I thought all three nestlings would use that railing before they flew.  Her brothers skipped that step.

Peregrine nestling #3 is the only one to perch on the railing (photo by Marcia Cooper)

Peregrine nestling #3 is the only one to perch on the railing, 17 June 2015 (photo by Marcia Cooper)

Exercise is exhausting.  Between bouts of wing flapping #3 sleeps on her belly like a baby.

Downtown Pittsburgh peregrine nestling #3 (photo by Marcia Cooper)

Downtown Pittsburgh peregrine nestling #3, 17 June 2015 (photo by Marcia Cooper)

Dori and Louie are doing their best to entice her to fly by feeding her less (she complains!) and perching in her sight line on the Union Trust Building.  “Come over here,” they say.

I hope she’ll fly today.

p.s.  The first two fledglings have graduated from Fledge Watch but #3 needs Watchers on Saturday.  Please leave a comment if you can help Downtown on June 20. (I can’t be there, alas!)

 

(photos by Mary DeVaughn and Marcia Cooper)

3 responses so far

Jun 17 2015

Fledge Watch Continues: Waiting For #3

Published by under Peregrines

Peregrine Fledgling #1, Downtown Pittsburgh, 16 June 2015 (photo by Steve Gosser)

Peregrine Fledgling #1, Downtown Pittsburgh, 16 June 2015 (photo by Steve Gosser)

Yesterday at Downtown Pittsburgh Peregrine Fledge Watch fledgling #1 surprised us with his staying power, #2 graduated to the next level, and #3 refused to leave the nest.

Pictured above by Steve Gosser, Fledgling #1 spent more than 24 hours puttering on a ledge on 5th Avenue near Ross Street.  He’ll leave when he gets hungry.

#2 learned how to fly high with the wind.  On Monday Jamie Sunderland photographed him in an ironic place — the Union Trust eagle gargoyle.  By Tuesday he’d mastered that zone and flew up and away out of sight.  When a fledgling does that he graduates from Fledge Watch.  Congratulations #2!

Peregrine Fledgling #2 perches on the eagle gargoyle, Union Trust Building, 15 June 2015 (photo by Jamie Sunderland)

#2 perches on the eagle gargoyle, Union Trust Building, 15 June 2015 (photo by Jamie Sunderland)

We thought #3 would have flown by now but she has refused to leave.  At midday Tuesday Marcia Cooper reported that her father (Louie) brought food but only fed her half of it, then he flew away as if to say, “You’ll get the rest when you leave the nest.”  She was outraged.

#3 at the nest ledge, 15 June 2015 (photo by John English)

#3 waiting at the nest, 15 June 2015 (photo by John English)

 

I’m heading Downtown now for my morning Fledge Watch shift to see who’s “up” today.  If #1 has flown out of sight he, too, will have graduated from Fledge Watch. Update at 9:00am: Yes he did. Congratulations #1!

That leaves us with #3.  At the rate she’s going we need Watchers on the schedule Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 18-20.  Please check  the Downtown Pittsburgh Peregrine Fledge Watch Calendar and leave a comment with your name, email address and the dates/times you’d like to volunteer.  I will see your message and add your shift to the calendar.

Thank You to all the volunteers and photographers!

Just one bird left to go.

 

(photos by Steve Gosser, Jamie Sunderland and John English)

p.s.  Here’s news from a really challenging Fledge Watch in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

4 responses so far

Jun 15 2015

Peregrine Watching at Pitt and Westinghouse

Published by under Peregrines

Schenley Plaza tent (photo by Kate St. John)

Schenley Plaza tent (photo by Kate St. John)

Pitt Peregrines:

Because his development is delayed, we can’t predict when the Cathedral of Learning peregrine chick will fledge but we can always get together to watch his parents and talk about peregrines.

Beginning June 19 I’ll be at the Schenley Plaza tent (most days) during lunch hour to watch peregrines in my favorite setting.  Check the Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch calendar for meeting times.   It’ll be a Peregrine Fan Reunion.

 

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

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

Westinghouse Bridge Peregrine Banding:

The PA Game Commission will band the two peregrine nestlings at the Westinghouse Bridge on Monday June 22 at 9:00am.  PennDOT and the banding team will use a bucket truck to access the nest.  The nest is under the bridge deck.  Norfolk Southern Railroad prohibits access under the Westinghouse Bridge.  Click here for a map showing a sidewalk viewing location on the nearby East-Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard Bridge.

 

(Schenley Plaza tent photo by Kate St.John; Westinghouse Bridge 2014 banding photo by John English)

7 responses so far

Jun 15 2015

Hard To Keep Track Of

Published by under Peregrines

Fledgling #2 on the rescue porch, 14 June 2015 (photo by Terry Wiezorek)

Fledgling #2 on the rescue porch, 14 June 2015 (photo by Terry Wiezorek)

Fledgling birds are hard to keep track of.  Hard on their parents.  Really hard for humans!  Yesterday’s Peregrine Fledge Watch in Downtown Pittsburgh was a case in point.

By Saturday evening Fledgling#2 had flown for the first time and ended his day on the Union Trust Building.  Sunday morning he was still there when Doug Cunzolo arrived.  Soon the bird flew to the Courthouse ledge, then an hour later to Union Trust on Grant Street.  So far so good.

The bird’s parents had their hands full babysitting #3 at the nest and persuading #1 to fly high.  They were busy.  We watched #2.

Peregrine falcon watching young learning to fly, Downtown Pittsburgh, 14 June 2015 (photo by Terry Wiezorek)

Adult peregrine watches youngsters learning to fly, Downtown Pittsburgh 14 June 2015 (photo by Terry Wiezorek)

Just before noon it started to rain so we stopped watching on Grant Street and sheltered under the scaffolding around the corner.  We thought #2 wouldn’t fly in the rain.  Hah!

When the rain was over he was gone.  All five of us searched the ground, buildings and plazas along Grant Street and Fifth.  We knew he wouldn’t be hit by a car because traffic was at a standstill, detoured for the Pride Parade.

Fledge Watch continued, we left, others arrived.  Then at 2:30pm Terry Wiezorek was watching on Fifth Avenue when PGC Officer Kline walked up with a cage and said, “Are you looking for this?”

Fledgling #2 at the Security Desk, awaiting delivery to the rescue porch (photo by Terry Wiezorek)

Fledgling #2 on his way to the rescue porch (photo by Terry Wiezorek)

#2 had been on the ground at BNY Mellon.  Who knew!

By 4:00pm Terry knew #2 was on the rescue porch and #3 was at the nest.  She could hear a fledgling, perhaps #1, calling for food.  She watched Dori and Louie for clues.  Where is #1?

Hard to keep track of!

 

(photos by Terry Wiezorek)

p.s.  After last night’s heavy rain (2.25 inches!) the birds probably won’t fly for a while and may be even harder to find.  More news later.

p.p.s. 9:15am all 3 accounted for: 2 on UTB, one at nest.

UPDATE, June 16, 9:40am: #1 on BNY Mellon ledge on 5th Ave at 6th across from ivy-covered old jail wall (a different building than Main), #2 on dormer at roof line of Union Trust, #3 sleeping in nest, Dori on Courthouse knob, Louie off hunting.

5 responses so far

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