New Peregrine Identified at Harmar

Peregrine falcon at Harmar, 11 Jan 2019 (photo by Gina Gilmore)

During the winter folks watching the Harmar bald eagles’ nest have an added birding bonus. There’s often a peregrine falcon perched at the Allegheny River near the Hulton Bridge.

In November 2017 Amy Henrici began seeing a single banded adult peregrine at the Hulton Bridge, but only during the winter. This winter there’s a banded peregrine there again. Gina Gilmore has been taking pictures and Rob Protz has been forwarding her photos to Art McMorris, Peregrine Coordinator for the PA Game Commission.

There’s no way to know if this is the same individual as last year but she’s certainly a beautiful bird.

Peregrine at Harmar, 4 Jan 2019 (photo by Gina Gilmore)

Last week Gina got good photographs of the color band showing the number 48 on Black.

Peregrine at Harmar, black band identified (photo and annotations by Gina Gilmore)

… and a Blue N.

Peregrine at Harmar, blue band N
12 Jan 2019 (photo by Gina Gilmore)

So now we know who she is. Black/Blue 48/N is a female peregrine who hatched three years ago, May 2016, at the Tower Building (City-County Building) in South Bend, Indiana. She was banded by John Castrale. Gina nicknamed her “Ms. Indiana.” (*)

Because the bird is three years old, this photo of her head and wing coverts is very intriguing. She still has some brown juvenile plumage in her gray wing coverts and juvenile “eyes” on the back of her head. Normally this indicates a two year old bird.

Peregrine at Harmar, 4 Jan 2019 (photo by Gina Gilmore)

Peregrine fan Kathy Majich of Toronto recognized this plumage quirk. “Ms. Indiana” is one of the last chicks raised by Zeus and Maltese in South Bend before he disappeared during fights with a new male in April 2017. Kathy says she may have inherited the persistent head pattern from her mother. Maltese has it, too.

“Ms. Indiana” is old enough to breed so the bridge, or perhaps the eagles’ cliff, could be of interest to her as a nesting site. However, Art McMorris says, “So far, all sightings that I know of have been of a single bird in the winter, starting in November and ending in April, and then starting again in November.”

Will she leave in April? Or will a male join her? Wait and see.

(photos by Gina Gilmore)

(*) Here’s how peregrines get their names in Pittsburgh.