Juvenile peregrine falcons spotted around region after leaving nests
It’s a long road to become the fastest flier on earth with speeds approaching 200 mph in a dive.
But local juvenile peregrine falcons, which are designated as state-threatened, are on their way as two were spotted in the region this week after leaving their nests weeks ago.
That is a good sign because young peregrines have high mortality rates, often falling victim to flight mishaps shortly after they strike out on their own, especially in urban areas.
One was seen on a rock pile at Tree Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, near what is believed to be a new nest at the 62ndf Street Bridge, while another one, looking a little wet, was spied under the Tarentum Bridge.
The Tarentum falcons raised three young this year. Pittsburgh Falconuts, a Facebook group of peregrine aficionados, confirmed the photo of one of those young falcons taken Sunday by Annette Devinney of Monroeville.
Seeing the young falcons almost a month after they have left the nest is “encouraging,” said Kate St. John, the main local monitor of peregrine falcons for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and author of the blog, “Outside My Window.”
The young birds will stay in the vicinity of their nest sites until about the end of July, according to St. John.
Although parents don’t teach their young to fly, they do teach them to hunt. As peregrines catch their prey in midair, St. John explained, “the parents will catch a bird in its talons, fly by their young as if to say, ‘Look, I’ve got something’ and will drop the prey in midair for the kids to catch.”
The young falcon under the 62nd Street Bridge may need some more practice.
“It was a clumsy flier,” noted Joe Stavish, community education coordinator for Tree Pittsburgh.
“It was standing in the far end of the parking lot, and my first concern was if it was injured,” he said.
But the bird eventually flew off to the hillside.
Given Stavish’s role as an educator, he contacted St. John and Art McMorris, peregrine coordinator for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
There has been a history of peregrine falcon sightings and ill-fated nests at the 62nd Street Bridge, which spans the Allegheny River between Lawrenceville and Etna, but a young falcon has never been documented there, according to McMorris’ report to Stavish.
The young falcon is likely from a nest somewhere undocumented in the bridge, according to McMorris and St. John.
Stavish and Tree Pittsburgh staff will be looking hard for the parent falcons and a nest next breeding season.
For 2019, there are eight known peregrine nesting sites in the region: Oakland’s Cathedral of Learning, Tarentum Bridge, a building on Third Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh, Westinghouse Bridge, Monaca railroad bridge, Neville Island I-79 bridge, McKees Rock Bridge and likely the 62nd Street Bridge, according to St. John.
Because of a lack of reporting, St. John and the Game Commission cannot confirm if the peregrine falcons at the Route 422 Graff Bridge on the Kittanning side produced young this year.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .