Welcome to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)/UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group peregrine falcon webcam page.
Our high-definition camera atop PG&E headquarters in San Francisco’s Financial District provides a year-round, bird’s-eye view (pun intended) of the peregrine’s daily life for legions of bird fans across the world. Viewership surges each spring, when the falcons prepare to nest. In the 2018 nesting season alone, this page recorded more than 100,000 visits.
As always, nature makes its own rules. Sometimes the falcon parents build their nest on the PG&E building, and sometimes they don’t. And, even when they do, the eggs don’t always hatch. That said, getting to watch the parents protect and feed their young and seeing them grow from furry blobs to young birds taking their first flight is quite an experience.
PG&E continues to support the recovery of California's peregrine falcon population, which was once near extinction. The company’s support includes grants to the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group’s education programs.
Falcons have been nesting on PG&E’s 77 Beale Street headquarters most years since 2004, producing more than 40 falcon chicks in the last decade alone. In February 2018, the falcon parents produced a clutch of four eggs. They sat on the eggs for a month to keep them warm. Three of the eggs hatched in March; the parents then fed the babies for several weeks as they grew from white fluff-balls to full-sized falcons with dark feathers.
In late April, Glenn Stewart, director of the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, banded the young birds – two females and a male named Edward, Archibald and Hallie. Following a regional call for suggestions, the names were chosen by the 632 students at Edward A. Hall Middle School in Watsonville (Santa Cruz County), whose mascot is the falcon. In May, all three fledglings successfully took their first flights.
Those first flights, and especially the first landings, represent a perilous time in the life of a young falcon. That’s especially true in the bustling downtown of a major city where the ground is 300 feet below, skyscrapers have glass windows, unpredictable winds blow in the canyons between buildings, and crows and other species are lurking.
Those potential hazards mean mixed results for each clutch of falcons. Archibald and Hallie did not survive their first years. But there are great successes, too: One male from 2011’s clutch maintains a successful nest that he pioneered on the Richmond waterfront.
PG&E has provided more than $280,000 in grants—including $10,000 in 2018—to the Predatory Bird Research Group since 1998 to support its community outreach and education programs. Between World War II and the 1970s, the peregrine falcon population nearly disappeared due to toxic chemicals. But, thanks to the Endangered Species Act and the good work of groups like the one that Stewart directs, there are now about 300 pairs of peregrine falcons in California.
For more information on falcons, check out the UC-Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group's website or the SF_PGE_FALCONS discussion group on Yahoo!
Falcon in flight photo by Glenn P. Nevill – Special to PG&E