Jan 22 2013
From 1991 through 2011, peregrine falcons nested at the Gulf Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh.
In the spring of 2012 they abandoned that nest due to rooftop construction and found a new site on their own at a building on Fourth Avenue. There they successfully raised at least one chick, pictured above at the nest opening. (Click on the photo for a wider view.)
The new site was less productive than the Gulf Tower but they prefer it and have chosen it again 2013.
Discovery of 2012 site:
Every year, Pennsylvania peregrines begin courting at their nests in January. By February 2012 it was clear that the Downtown peregrines were rarely at the Gulf Tower.
Meanwhile, both of them often perched at Point Park University’s Lawrence Hall. From photos and reports by Katie Munsch and Dan Costa, I formed a theory about the new nest location.
On March 25 I spent a day Downtown chasing peregrines. I followed Louie and was extremely lucky to witness him do an incubation nest exchange with Dori. Beth Fife of the PA Game Commission confirmed the nest in early April 2012.
Distance between peregrines’ nesting territories:
Peregrines are highly territorial and do not allow another pair to nest close to them. The distance between nests depends on food availability. In Pittsburgh the sites are generally two to three miles apart. Downtown Pittsburgh is so small that only one pair can nest there. (The new site is 1/3 of a mile away from the Gulf Tower.)
The closest peregrine territories to Downtown are:
- University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning: 2.6 miles away
- Green Tree water tower: 2.8 miles away
- McKees Rocks Bridge: 3.6 miles away
As of April 2013, with the addition of the Green Tree water tower, there are eight active peregrines nests in the Pittsburgh area. The ninth site where peregrines are seen (the 62nd Street Bridge) does not appear to have an active nest.
(photo by Kate St. John)