PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A hawk flies above the crowd on a sunny afternoon at the National Aviary. After a five-year absence, eagles, owls and their kin have returned to the Rose Garden.

But this has not been a good year for raptors of the wild in southwestern Pennsylvania.

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A pair of widely-watched eagle nests in Hays and Harmar will not produce any fledglings this year. And a recently hatched peregrine falcon chick, atop Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning, appears to be in trouble.

Aviary ornithologist Bob Mulvihill says the chick has trouble remaining upright.

“We don’t know exactly what it is,” he says, “but it’s clearly not behaving normally.”

It’s the 43rd chick hatched by 16-year-old Dorothy.

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“Even she looks puzzled by the behaviors in this case,” Mulvihill adds. “But she’s been so attentive, both she and her mate have done just a tremendous job provisioning this chick, despite the challenges.”


They’ll learn more on Friday, when the chick is banded by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and given whatever medical care is possible.

“If we could get to the point where this chick is able to fledge, and actually leave the nest by flying, then we will have crossed a big obstacle, a big developmental step,” the ornithologist says. “And things would look a lot better at that point.”

But he admits that reaching that point is a long shot.

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