Pitt Peregrine Falcon Nest Cam



Latest News

6/15/2016:  Yesterday evening the Pitt falcon chick fledged, initially flying toward Phipps but quickly chased down and turned around by one of its parents, who escorted her back toward the Cathedral of Learning, where she found a comfortable perch more than ten floors below the nest site, and on the opposite side of the building.  This is the first successful fledging of a falcon at Pitt since 2013!

6/2/2016:  On May 27th, a few onlookers watched as Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists removed the 28-day-old chick from the nesting box to give it a medical check-up and to band it.  The chick was determined from its size to be a female, and she appeared to be in very good health.  She was fitted with a federal U.S. Geological Survey bird band on her right leg and a alphanumeric color band (visible through binoculars), "06" (black) over "BR" (green) on her left leg.   Peregrine Falcon chicks generally fledge in five or six weeks after hatching, so don't be surprised if you tune into the nest cam one of these days soon and there is no sign of her on screen! 

5/19/2016: Hope and Terzo’s remaining chick continues to thrive and grow at the Cathedral of Learning nesting site.  Not yet three weeks old, the chick is already moving around the scrape, stretching out its wings, and even sitting on the perching area just out of the camera’s view.  The adult Peregrine Falcons continue to bring the chick meals several times a day, often resulting in the mess of feathers observed in the nest.

This month the PA Game Commission will band the new chick so it can be monitored and tracked, like Hope and Terzo. They will also conduct a very brief medical exam on the chick and collect blood samples. In addition to testing the health of the chick, the blood sample will be used to determine its sex.

Peregrine Falcons usually fledge roughly six weeks after hatching. We can predict the chick will begin to develop its adult feathers and begin spending more time closer to the edge of the nest over the next few weeks.

For more updates and information, visit Kate St. John's Blog.

4/30/2016:  From Kate St. John's Blog excellent, though humanly sad, blog post today (thank you as always, Kate):

Yesterday morning we were excited that the first peregrine egg hatched at Pitt and looked forward to a second hatching later in the day.

At around 2:15pm the second egg hatched. Hope manipulated it, killed it, and fed it to the first chick.

This is not normal peregrine behavior.

Viewers were shocked and bewildered.  Many of you had questions but I was out of cell range for most of the day, unaware that it happened.

I have never seen this behavior before and don’t know why it occurred.  Here’s what we do know: Peregrines’ lives are very different from ours. Using our human yardstick to understand them — anthropomorphizing — really leads us astray.

I asked Art McMorris, the PA Game Commission’s Peregrine Coordinator, who viewed the archived footage and said the chick was alive but might not have been normal.  In all his years of dealing with peregrines, Art has never seen this before either.

Hope’s behavior was so unusual that there is no information on it.  Many of you speculated about it and asked “Is this why she did it?”  In almost every case my answer is “I don’t know.”

A line from The Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot comes to mind: “But there was no information, and so we continued.”   The rest of the poem applies, too.

And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different …
— excerpt from The Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot

We are learning a lot this year about unusual peregrine behavior.

And a reminder: If watching the nestcam upsets you, turn it off. Give yourself a rest. We all do.

4/14/2016:  Everything continues to look good, with both Hope and Terzo taking their turns incubating the eggs.  The incubation period for Peregrines is 29-32 days starting on the day when the second to last egg is laid (March 17), so the original set of three eggs (those laid when Hope was mated with E2) could begin hatching sometime this weekend! 

4/4/16:  On the afternoon of April 2, Hope laid another egg, bringing her clutch to four.  This last egg will have been fertilized by her new mate, Terzo.  It will be interesting to see if all the eggs hatch and, if so, the timing of the hatching.  Incubation takes 30 days, but Hope did not really sit closely on the first three eggs following E2's death, so their development may be delayed.  Regardless, the fourth laid egg can hatch no earlier than about May 2. 

3/31/16:  Hope's new mate, a bird banded with N (black) over 29 (red), has been identified as a male falcon hatched in Cincinnati, OH in 2013.  For convenience, he recently has been given a name by the person primarily responsible for monitoring the Pitt nest over the years, Kate St. John. Kate has chosed the name Terzo, which means "third" in Italian.  Terzo (pronounced "Tare-zoe") is the third male to nest at the Cathedral of Learning, after Erie (2002-2007) and E2 (2008-2015).

For up-to-date news and views about all Pittsburgh's peregrines, visit "Outside My Window,"Kate St. John's Bird Blog.

Previous News

More good news!  The new male in Hope's life has delivered food to her at the nest.  Some screen shots showing his bands are being looked at by the Game Commission and others to see if we can determine who he is and from where he came.

The National Aviary is sorry to report that on Wednesday evening, March 16, the male Peregrine Falcon “E2” from the University of Pittsburgh nest on the Cathedral of Learning was found dead in a residential backyard in Pittsburgh’s Friendship neighborhood, about one and a half miles from the nest site. 

The National Aviary and other agencies were contacted by the persons who found the bird. Based on photographs and band numbers, the falcon was confirmed to be E2. The bird was collected so that the Pennsylvania Game Commission can conduct a post-mortem examination.  The cause of death is unknown at this time.

The female peregrine falcon “Hope,” E2’s mate at the Cathedral of Learning nest site, laid eggs on March 13, March 15 and, perhaps surprisingly considering the loss of her mate, a third egg on the night of March 17.  A female can store viable sperm for up to a few days, so it actually is possible that all three eggs are fertile.  However, it just may not be possible for her to successfully incubate the eggs to hatching, and it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for her to care for chicks on her own. 

So, it is unclear what will happen next at the nest; the nest cam provides a rare opportunity to learn new information.  Please remember that just because we can observe what happens in these nests does not mean we can control the outcome; successful nesting is never guaranteed in wild birds.    


History of Nesting at Pitt

Peregrines have nested at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning for 12 years.  Dorothy began nesting here in 2002 with her first mate, Erie. In the fall of 2007, when Erie disappeared, another male (Erie II, or E2) showed up.  Dorothy fledged a total of 22 chicks in seven years with Erie and another 20 chicks with E2.  Her last nesting attempt, in 2015, was unsuccessful, and in November 2015 a new female appeared at the nest box with E2.  We assume that Dorothy finally succumbed to the effects of her very old age (almost 17 years old) for a wild Peregrine. 

A replacement female for Dorothy, known as "Hope," did not have to come from very far away.  She tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to nest at the Tarentum Bridge (about twelve miles away as the falcon flies) for several years.  Presumably, E2 somehow made his unmated status known--perhaps with conspicuous flight and vocal behaviors--and Hope decided to join him in Oakland at the Cathedral of Learning. 

For up-to-date news and views about all Pittsburgh's peregrines, visit "Outside My Window,"Kate St. John's Bird Blog.  

Many thanks to our partners:  University of Pittsburgh, WildEarth, M&P Security Solutions, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission

Our sincere thanks to PixController, Inc. for providing many years of nest cam maintenance and support.

Alternate Nest View

Click on the picture below for an image that refreshes automatically every 15 seconds.

Peregrine Nest, University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning