Archive for the 'Peregrines' Category

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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Mar 24 2014


Published by under Peregrines

Dorothy and her frozen egg, 24 Mar 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

It’s very cold this morning:  14 degrees at the airport, 21 degrees in my city backyard.  Assuming the Cathedral of Learning is just as warm as my backyard (1.5 miles away), the temperature at the nest has been below freezing since 8:00pm last night.

For whatever reason, Dorothy stopped sheltering her egg around 9:30pm.

Peregrine falcons don’t begin incubation until they’ve laid their next to last egg in the clutch.  However, they do shelter the eggs to keep them from freezing.  In her younger years Dorothy would have been on top of the egg in weather like this, not merely standing over it, and it would look like she’s incubating.  But she’s not.

The egg is certainly frozen and will never hatch. CORRECTION!  I have since learned that it might hatch. (It was not incubated and abandoned to the cold weather so it might be viable.)

This spring Dorothy is 15 years old, retirement age for wild peregrines.  She has a reason for acting this way.  I don’t know what it is.


(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh

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Mar 21 2014

First Egg At Pitt!

Published by under Peregrines

pittvid_2014-03-21_07-40dorothy with her first egg of 2014 (snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

First peregrine egg at Pitt!  Dorothy laid it Thursday night, March 20, at 9:37pm.


I happened to be asleep and found out this morning around 5am.
First peregrine egg at Pitt, 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)


And here’s the first moment of the first egg thanks to @PittPeregrines.  (The egg is white in infrared light.)
Dorothy lays her first egg of 2014, Mar 20 9:37pm (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

It seems like we waited forever but Dorothy is right on time.


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

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Mar 20 2014

5 Eggs At Gulf Tower, None at Pitt

Published by under Peregrines


Last night (Mar 19) at around 9:30pm, @CathyPelican107 tweeted me with news that there were now five eggs at the Gulf Tower.  By the time I looked Dori was clamped down on the eggs and I couldn’t count them so I checked the WildEarth video archives.

During the 8:00pm hour Dori stood up and appeared to deposit an egg in the nest.  It was really hard to see!  Eventually she settled down with the egg alongside of her (above), presumably allowing it to dry.

Later she stood up to rearrange the eggs and I was able to count 5 in these two screen shots.

This afternoon you can clearly count five.

5 eggs at teh Gulf Tower (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf)



Meanwhile at Pitt, Dorothy spends a lot of time at the nest looking as if she will lay an egg … and then she doesn’t.

Dorothy at teh nes, 20 Mar 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Don’t worry.  Her median first egg date is March 23.  She has plenty of time.


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

p.s. The fact that I mentioned Dorothy hasn’t laid an egg will probably prompt her to do so immediately … just to prove me wrong!


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Mar 17 2014

Four Eggs At Gulf Tower

Published by under Peregrines

Dori with 4 eggs, 17 Mar 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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.

Dori and Louie with 4 eggs, 17 Mar 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)


But Dori is so tired that she forgot to pull it under her.  Ooops!   … Or maybe she’s letting this one dry.

Ooops! One gg is out of place, 17 Mar 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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.


(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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Mar 15 2014

Three Eggs at Gulf Tower

Published by under Peregrines

Three eggs at Gulf Tower, 15 Mar 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

Overnight Dori, the female peregrine at the Gulf Tower, laid her third egg.

In this photo she’s a blur as she leaves the nest before dawn.  Louie was probably calling her to come for breakfast.

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

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Mar 14 2014

Pittsburgh Peregrines To Watch

Published by under Peregrines

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.)

Peregrine at the Tarentum Bridge, 9 Mar2014 (photo by Steve Gosser)

  • 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)

Peregrine at Green Tree water tower, 9 March 2014 (photo by Shannon Thompson)

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

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