Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

May 02 2014

Double-Teaming The Kids

Published by under Peregrines

Both peregrine parents feed five nestlings (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)
It’s been rainy this week so the Gulf Tower peregrine nestlings have been pretty demanding when it’s time to eat.  On Tuesday afternoon their parents double-teamed them for the midday feeding: Dori on the left, Louie on the right.

At one point the adults were in synch, bowing to grab a morsel, rising to put it in a little beak.

Both parents feed five peregrine nestlings (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)


And then Louie ran out of food and they all looked at mom.  Louie left shortly after this snapshot.

Both parents feed five peregrine nestlings (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)


In the photo above the chicks are 6-9 days old and growing their second down.  By this Sunday the oldest will be 14 days, their second down will be dense and long, and they’ll be ready to walk out of the scrape.

Watch their antics on the Gulf Tower falconcam.


(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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Apr 26 2014

Bluejay For Breakfast

Published by under Peregrines

Dori shelters her 5 chicks, 26 Apr 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

This morning when I looked at the Gulf Tower falconcam a color at the front of the nest caught my eye.

Notice the long blue feathers.  The peregrine nestlings had blue jay for breakfast.

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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Apr 24 2014

Five Grandbabies

Published by under Peregrines

Dori and five chicks, 23 April 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Some of you feel bad for Dorothy at the Cathedral of Learning because she has only one non-viable egg this year but consider this:  She has five peregrine grandbabies a few miles away at the Gulf Tower.

Can you count five pink beaks in the photo above?  They’re all there.

Dori and Louie’s fifth and final egg hatched yesterday in the 10 o’clock hour.  Since Louie is Dorothy’s son (by her first mate, Erie) those five nestlings are Dorothy’s grandkids.  Louie himself hatched in 2002, the very first year Dorothy fledged young, and is the only one of his hatch year known to nest.*


The Gulfcam video archives are spotty so I’ve made a slideshow of yesterday’s highlights.  Click on the photo to watch…

  • 8:20am:  The chick inside the final egg has made great progress pecking around the “equator.”
  • 9:34am:  Off camera Louie calls as he arrives with food. Dori replies, steps away and returns to feed 4 chicks.  Chick #5 has not officially hatched yet.
  • 10:54am: Chick #5 is damp and propped in front when Louie comes to feed them.  He looks up at the building.  Perhaps he heard a sound inside.
  • 10:56am: After only two minutes Dori returns to take over the feeding.  Bye, Louie.
  • 13:40 (1:40pm to 1:57pm): Louie broods the nestlings for nearly 20 minutes.  Notice how he fills less of the camera frame than Dori does.
  • 16:16 (4:16pm):  Dori offers this prey item again because they didn’t finish it last time.  Eat up, kids!
  • 19:28 (7:28pm to 7:39pm):  Last feeding of the day. Sunset is only a half hour away.  After they’ve eaten Louie stops by to say goodnight, bending over the chicks to watch them sleep.

Click here to watch the “grandkids” on the Gulfcam.


(snapshots from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

* Yesterday Ann Hohn at Make-A-Wish read Louie’s bands, so both Dori and Louie are confirmed at the nest this year.

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Apr 21 2014

Hatch Day Happenings

Published by under Peregrines

Louie and Dori bow near their three new chicks, 20 April 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Yesterday during a 12 hour period three of five eggs hatched at the Gulf Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Mother peregrine, Dori, was so protective that the nestlings did not get their first feeding until 6:15pm.  Above, Louie and Dori bow near the three nestlings.  The first feeding is about to begin.

Click on the photo above to watch a slideshow of yesterday’s highlights.  The nestlings are at the very cutest stage right now.

  • First hatchling with a pipped egg
  • Second wet hatchling at 1:47pm
  • Third wet hatchling at 2:39pm
  • Dori feeds the chicks 6:21pm to 6:31pm
  • Louie tries to feed them but they are too full and sleepy.  Only one raises his head.
  • Within five minutes, Dori returns.  She tries to feed them again.
  • Dori watches them sleep for a moment (with her back to us) then settles on them to brood.

Watch the falconcam to see when the other eggs hatch.


(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at the Gulf Tower)

p.s.  The nest will be hard to see for about an hour after sunrise because the sun reflects off the dirty camera cover.  Don’t despair. The view clears.

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Apr 20 2014

Peregrine Eggs Hatching On Easter

Published by under Peregrines

Gulf Tower peregrines, first hatched egg, 20 April2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

This morning I woke to a happy surprise. In the pre-dawn light there was an eggshell at the Gulf Tower peregrines’ nest. The eggs have begun to hatch.

Below, Dori settles herself over the fluffy chick.  New little bird!

First chick at Gulf Tower, 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)


Click here to watch the action on the Gulf Tower falconcam.  (The nest will be hard to see for about an hour after sunrise because the sun reflects off the dirty camera cover.  Don’t despair. The view clears.)

Happy Easter!


(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Update:  More photos as I get them.

Here she’s in color at 6:33am before the sun gets in the way.
First hatchling, 20 April 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

20 April 2014, 6:49am, second egg has pip hole. The sun is starting to blur the scene.
Gulf Tower 2nd egg with pip visible at front (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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Apr 16 2014

Is It My Turn?

Published by under Peregrines

Louie asks, "Is it my turn?" (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower, Pittsburgh)

This week at the Gulf Tower, peregrine parents Dori and Louie are in the home stretch of The Big Sit with their five eggs due to hatch between April 19 and 21.  Meanwhile they trade off incubation duty, though not always willingly.

April 7 was a typical “Day In the Life of Incubating Peregrines.”  Click on the photo (or here) to watch the slideshow.

In the half-light of 7:00am Dori awakes to a call from Louie.  He incubates until she returns at 10:00, but when he wants to take over at 1:20pm and again at 2:10pm, she says No.  After the second denial she watches him circle above.  Was he annoyed?  It’s not until 3:20pm that she finally relinquishes her place.

“Is it my turn?” asks Louie.  As the chicks get close to hatching Dori will be saying “No” more often.

The Gulfcam is zoomed in close so you can watch for pips in the eggs.  See them here.


(snapshots from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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Apr 14 2014

Dorothy’s Daughters

Published by under Peregrines

Beauty, Rochester NY, April 2014 (photo from RFalconcam)

A horrific peregrine falcon fight in Ohio last Friday reminded me that life isn’t always rosy for Dorothy’s daughters.

In the thirteen years she’s nested at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, Dorothy has fledged 42 young.  Eleven chose nest sites where observers were able to identify them. Six of those are Dorothy’s daughters.  Here are their stories.

Beauty, pictured above, hatched in 2007 and flew north to Rochester, New York.  There she nests on the Times Square Building with DotCa.  For two years her life was like Peyton Place with a territorial fight and DotCa’s philandering.  This spring is considerably calmer and she’s already laid three eggs.  Follow her news and live video at RFalconcam.


Belle, hatched in 2003, flew west to the bell tower at the University of Toledo, Ohio.  Now 11 years old she was in a life-threatening territorial fight on Friday that scattered her four eggs and left her with injuries around her eyes.  Belle returned to incubate but as you can see below, she’s not in good condition.  Her mate, Allen, collected their four eggs and is incubating more often and providing more food.  We hope the intruder is gone and Belle recovers soon.  See photos of the fight and follow news of Belle and Allen at the Toledo Peregrine Project Facebook page.
Belle with injuries from fight, Univ of Toledo bell tower, 11 April 2014 (photo from Univ.Toledo falconcam)


Belle’s same-year sibling, Hathor also flew west where she nests at the Macomb County Building in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Barb Baldinger checked the nest last week and counted four eggs. Here’s Barb’s photo of Hathor and her mate Nick in March. Their nest is not on camera but you can follow their news on the Peregrine Falcons Southeast Michigan Facebook page.
Hathor at Macomb County Courthouse (photo by Barb Baldinger)


Maddy, Class of 2004, nests at the I-480 Bridge at Valley View near Cleveland, Ohio. It’s a tough site to monitor but Chad+Chris Saladin observe at the bridge when they get a chance. Here’s one of their photos of Maddy at home in 2011.
Maddy flies past her home, the I-480 bridge near Cleveland (photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)


Yellow, Class of 2009, has nested at the Killen Power Station in Wrightsville, Ohio since 2011 but has not been confirmed yet this year (and there are no photos of her).


And finally Blue, Class of 2011, tried to nest at the Green Tree water tower in 2013. The nesting attempt was discovered during a construction project and, though the project was delayed, the nest failed. Identified by Shannon Thompson who took her photo above, Blue and her mate are gone this year, replaced by a completely new pair.  Perhaps we’ll hear of her somewhere else some day.
Female peregrine at Green Tree water tower (photo by Shannon Thompson)


Six daughters, six different lives.


(photo credits:
Beauty in Rochester, New York, photo from RFalconcam
Belle, injured in Toledo, Ohio, photo from Univ of Toledo falconcam via Toledo Peregrine Project
Hathor and Nick at Mt. Clemens, Michigan, photo by Barb Baldinger
Maddy, I-480 Bridge, photo by Chad+Chris Saladin
Blue, Green Tree water tower, photo by Shannon Thompson

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Apr 08 2014

Pittsburgh Peregrine Update, Early April

Published by under Peregrines

Dorothy with one old egg, 3 April 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Today’s post is long but with eight nest sites there’s a lot of peregrine news in Pittsburgh.  Some sites are exciting, others are boring (incubation), but that’s par for the course in early April.

Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh: We have the best falconcam ever at this site but only sad news to watch. At 15 years old, Dorothy laid one egg on March 20 and then stopped. She was egg bound but expelled it on the night of March 29-30. E2 continues to court and bring her food.  Dorothy stands over the egg but never incubates.  For now she waits. See her here.


Dori and Louie take turns at the nest on the Gulf Tower (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)
Gulf Tower, Downtown Pittsburgh: This nest exchange snapshot sums up the happy status at Gulf Tower right now.  After two years on a short building on the other side of town, the peregrines came home to Gulf where we can watch them on camera.  We’ve confirmed this pair is Dori (banding name “Mary Cleo,” Akron, 2007) and Louie (Cathedral of Learning, 2002) who last nested here in 2011.  This spring Dori laid 5 eggs March 10 to 19 and began incubation midday March 17 just after her fourth egg, so we expect hatching to begin April 19 to April 21.  We’ll zoom in the camera soon so you can watch for pips.  See them here online.  (*Donate at the link so we can get a better camera! Mark your donation for “Conservation and Field Research Department” and write “Gulf Tower camera” in the comments.)


Peregrine at Green Tree water tower, 1 April 2014 (photo by Leslie Ferree)
Green Tree water tower:  Green Tree has had a complete changeover in resident adults this year.  Last year Dorothy and E2’s daughter Blue was here with an immature unbanded male. This year Shannon Thompson confirmed the female is unbanded and the male has bands.  On April 1 Leslie Ferree captured this photo of one of the adults hiding his/her legs.  The pair has been very active, eggs are in progress, but so are intruders.  Over the weekend Jill Dunmire noticed the male is missing three primary wing feathers, probably because of a fight.  Photographers, please visit this site.  Let’s identify the male. Click here for directions.


Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Robert Stovers on Wikimedia Commons)
Neville Island I-79 Bridge:  This bridge was over the top with excitement last Sunday.  Anne Marie Bosnyak witnessed an intruder scuffle (right over her head!), a food exchange, and e-chupping from the likely nest location.  The last time she saw the pair mate was on March 31 so they are probably on eggs.  Who knew it could be so exciting? Click here for information on where to watch, though it might be boring now with incubation underway.


Peregrine at Tarentum, 28 March 2014 (photo by Steve Gosser)
Tarentum Bridge:  Speaking of boring, only one bird has been visible at a time at Tarentum since the third week of March.  Observers usually see the female, Hope (from Hopewell, VA, 2008).  If this pair is on the same schedule as last year the eggs will hatch a few days after Gulf Tower’s, around April 22 to 24.  But this is only speculation.


Peregrine looking inside a hole on the McKees Rocks Bridge, 31 March 2014 (photo by Leslie Ferree)
McKees Rocks Bridge:  There’s no news from this site except:  On March 31 Leslie Ferree photographed a peregrine looking into the holes in the bridge structure.  Was it looking for a pigeon meal or visiting its own nest?  See the tiny red circle above.  (update: Leslie Ferree answers my “Is it the nest?” question in the comments below.)

Monaca/Beaver bridges:  This elusive pair has chosen the big Monaca-to-Beaver railroad bridge as their home. They were seen copulating on February 23 and flying around the bridge on March 29, but other than that there’s no news from here.

Westinghouse Bridge:  No peregrine news at this site but plenty of people news:  A woman went missing under the bridge and a firefighter was killed by a train during the search. Then our keen observer, John English, hurt his foot and hasn’t been able to visit.  Here are his instructions on where to watch.  Please visit if you get a chance.


April’s both exciting and boring.  It’s a good time to get out and watch.

(photo credits:  Cathedral of Learning: National Aviary falconcam, Gulf Tower: National Aviary falconcam, Green Tree water tower: Leslie Ferree, Neville Island Bridge: Robert Stovers on Wikimedia Commons, Tarentum falcon: Steve Gosser, McKees Rocks Bridge: Leslie Ferree)


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Mar 31 2014

She Was Egg Bound

Published by under Peregrines

Dorothy the day after egg-bound, 30 March 2014 expelled (from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

This is a bird who didn’t feel well.  Yesterday Dorothy looked ragged, tired and uncomfortable.

On March 20, she laid her first egg of the season and was due to lay her second on March 22, but nothing happened.  During the week that followed she often stood over the scrape, looking as if she wanted to lay another egg.  Nothing.  We all wondered what was going on.  Bob Mulvihill of the National Aviary wondered if she was egg bound.

A bird becomes egg bound when she’s unable to pass an egg that has formed inside her.  It’s a serious, sometimes fatal medical condition and is more common in older birds than young ones.  At age 15 Dorothy is definitely an older bird, two years older than the average life expectancy of adult peregrines.

Saturday night (March 29-30) Dorothy roosted on the nest box roof.  At some point she expelled a red splotch on the roof, a yellow splotch on the right edge of the box, and a deflated eggshell on the gravel.  When E2 came to visit at dawn all three signs were visible.  He was active.  She was not moving very fast.

Dorothy and E2 at dawn, expelled egg bound egg (retouched from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

I saw the yellow splotch at dawn and wondered if it was a yolk.  When Bob saw the signs below he knew that Dorothy had been egg bound and it was over.

Dorothy's egg-bound eg, expelled as seen on 30 March 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)


Since egg binding is life threatening, it’s good news that Dorothy expelled the egg.  This morning at dawn she was more alert and even picked up and ate the expelled eggshell.  (Female peregrines often eat the eggshells of their hatched chicks.)

Dorothy  eats the eggshell she expelled yesterday, 31 March 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

However this episode is one more confirmation that Dorothy is in poor breeding condition and unlikely to have a successful nest.

I don’t know what will happen next but I can predict with confidence that some day a new female peregrine will arrive at the Cathedral of Learning and we’ll see eggs and baby peregrines again at Pitt.

I don’t know when.


(photos from the National Aviary falconcams at the University of Pittsburgh)

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Mar 26 2014


Published by under Peregrines

Dorothy preening, 25 Mar 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Dorothy laid her first egg on March 20.  It appears to be her last and she is not incubating it.

In her prime Dorothy laid an egg every 2.5 days until she completed a clutch of four or five.  She always hatched all or all-but-one.

Last year her age began to show.  Her time between eggs was prolonged, three eggs did not hatch, and one of the hatchlings was too handicapped to live.

Back in 2010 I wrote about what happens when female peregrines age (click here).  Dorothy is now 15, two years older than the average adult life expectancy of 13.  So we’re learning something.

Yesterday Mary DeVaughn coined the term “hen-o-pause” on the Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook page.  I don’t know if birds experience anything like menopause but it explains Dorothy’s solo egg and her lack of desire to incubate.

She’s certainly the right age for “hen-o-pause.”


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



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