Welcome to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)/UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group peregrine falcon webcam page.
We have exciting news for 2017. We have upgraded the camera atop the PG&E headquarters in San Francisco’s Financial District. This should enhance the viewing experience for the thousands of falcon fans around the world who enjoy the bird’s-eye view (pun intended) of this spectacle of nature.
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 will continue working with the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group on its important work restoring the falcon population.
Falcons have been nesting on PG&E’s 77 Beale Street headquarters most years since 2004. In 2016, three eggs hatched on April 17. Their parents, named Dan and Matilda, sat on the eggs to keep them warm and then, once they hatched, fed the birds over the next month as they grew from white fluff-balls to full-size falcons with dark feathers. Glenn Stewart, director of the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, banded the young birds on May 9, a few weeks before they were ready to start flying. On that same day, PG&E announced the names of the birds: Talon, Grace and Flash. PG&E customers were asked to submit names via Twitter or email. More than 160 name entries were submitted; perhaps 600 names in total. The selected names came courtesy of Heather Wingfield’s kindergarten class at Lakeside Elementary in Los Gatos. The class of 4- and 5-year-olds provided 20 potential names, including the three winning choices.
The trio first tested their wings over the long Memorial Day weekend. Tens of thousands of nature lovers followed their progress via a webcam. 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.
Flash, a male, flew first, followed by the two females, Grace and Talon. As sometimes happens, one of them (Grace) got into some trouble trying to return to the nest box and ended up in the care of San Francisco Animal Control. On June 1, Stewart returned Grace to the 33rd floor of the PG&E building. He fed her and wet her feathers before releasing her—both in an effort to delay her decision to try her next flight.
PG&E has provided more than $260,000 in grants—including $10,000 in 2016—to the Santa Cruz 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.
PG&E has supported the recovery of California's peregrine falcon population, which was once near extinction, for two decades. This includes grants to the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group’s education programs.
By Matt Nauman
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