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March 21, 2013

To Pitt’s falcons, it’s spring

peregrinesDorothy and E2, Pitt’s resident peregrine falcon pair, are nesting again atop the Cathedral of Learning. As of press time Wednesday, Dorothy had laid a total of three eggs.

Peregrines nest once a year, laying an average of four eggs. Chicks typically hatch after 30-32 days of incubation, according to the National Aviary.

Four eggs were laid last year at Pitt; three hatched. The chicks — all male— were banded in late May by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. (See May 31, 2012, University Times.)

Dorothy, who was born in Milwaukee in 1999, has nested at Pitt since 2002. E2, who was born in 2005 at the Gulf Tower nest, replaced Dorothy’s previous mate, Erie, who disappeared in fall 2007.

The peregrines have fledged 41 chicks at the Cathedral of Learning nest. Dorothy and Erie raised 22 chicks over seven years; she and E2 have launched another 19 since 2008.

Although several pairs of the birds have taken up residence in the area, the Cathedral of Learning FalconCam provides the only upclose glimpse of Pittsburgh peregrine nesting this year.

The FalconCam at the Gulf Tower Downtown is dark because its birds moved to a different ledge last year amid installation of new lighting atop the building. Although that peregrine pair remains Downtown, its nest is not viewable on camera, said National Aviary spokesperson Ericka Douglass.

And, the eye on the Cathedral of Learning nest this season hasn’t been as good as birdwatchers had hoped. The streaming video feed has been clouded in recent days. A still camera that updates a snapshot of the nest every 15 seconds has been unaffected.

Phil Hieber of Facilities Management has been in contact with representatives from PixController, which installed the video system. He said the problem is expected to be able to be fixed from inside the Babcock Room on the 40th floor and that the view should be clear again soon.

To view the Cathedral of Learning nest, click on the Pittsburgh FalconCam link at

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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