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Peregrine falcons are no longer empty-nesters at Pittsburgh's Gulf Tower

| Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
National Aviary
A screen capture from the falcon web cam at the Gulf Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh.

A pair of peregrine falcons laid their first egg Wednesday in a newly renovated nesting site on Downtown Pittsburgh's iconic Gulf Tower, according to the National Aviary.

The Aviary has a webcam perched in what turned out to be an enticing nesting box high on the 44-story tower, where the two falcons — known as Dori and Louie — nested in 2014.

There's another camera at the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland, where falcons Hope and Terzo are nesting, but no egg yet.

Peregrine falcons first nested at the Gulf Tower at the corner of Grant Street and Seventh Avenue in 1991 and stayed there for more than two decades. For a time, they moved on from the Gulf Tower and built nests in buildings along Third Avenue and near Point Park University.

“They own Downtown,” said Kate St. John, who monitors Pittsburgh's peregrines for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and blogs about nature. “We don't know what it is that strikes Dori's fancy and makes her decide to move between nest sites.”

The National Aviary installed a better nest cam at the Gulf Tower in 2015, said Bob Mulvihill, ornithologist with the aviary, and Art McMorris, the game commission's peregrine falcon coordinator, added gravel to the nest site.

“They seemed to love the new gravel because we saw them digging in it and stopping by there frequently,” St. John said. “It's a quality site.”

In Pennsylvania, the peregrine falcon is considered an endangered and protected species.

The webcam captured Louie bringing dinner to Dori recently.

“She is not hunting for herself. She is busy making an egg,” St. John said.

Besides having a webcam to keep tabs on the birds, the Gulf Tower is a better place to rear young than other sites in Downtown because there are more high perches for the newly hatched falcons to learn to fly, Mulvihill said.

“I feel as though we got a good chance of seeing the peregrines have a good season,” he said.

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