Peregrine Falcon Chicks Arrive At Rescue Facility After Being Removed From Downtown Nest

May 8, 2018

Four peregrine falcon chicks have been removed from a nest at the top of a Third Avenue building in downtown Pittsburgh.

They arrived Tuesday at the Humane Animal Rescue Wildlife Center, according to the group, where the chicks were examined and banded with trackers.

The peregrines, a species endangered in the state of Pennsylvania, will remain in human care until they have matured enough to be released back into the wild, said the Pennsylvania Game Commission last month. 

The chicks hatched in March to Dori and Louie, a pair of peregrine falcons in a long line that have resided downtown for a decade. Dori and Louie typically roost in the Gulf Tower, but this year they had been nesting on a building currently under construction and slated to become the Keystone Flats, luxury student apartments near the Point Park University campus.

BET Investments, the company managing the property, was granted a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, citing "buzzing," or swooping down by Dori and Louie at construction workers, according to Kate St. John, the city's lead peregrine monitor.

"When the peregrine is working at scaring you, it's a good idea to honor that, because the bird gives you warnings first," St. John said. 

She said she believes the parents were trying to protect their young.

"The adults are consumed by providing for the needs of their kids," St. John said. "Humans are peregrines' No. 1 enemies, so they are defending their young, and the way a peregrine does that is to fly close by and give you the willies."

Peregrines can escalate that behavior, even lashing out at humans with their talons. And St. John predicted that with their chicks missing now, the birds could become more aggressive.

"Some birds don't get over it for months," she said. "[Construction] days will not be gained by this action."

Typically, a peregrine family moves out of the hatching nest when the chicks can fly, explained St. John, which would have been this month had the chicks not been removed. 

But BET Investments indicated development couldn't wait. The company said in a statement, “Any further delay would not allow us to complete the historic renovations in time for more than 100 college students who will need to move into their apartments prior to the start of their classes in August."

BET Investments agreed to cover all costs for relocation. St. John said that raising baby peregrines in captivity is not optimal, but it can be done.