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 bird’s-eye view (pun intended) of this annual spectacle of nature for legions of bird fans across the world. In the 2017 nesting season alone, this page recorded about 100,000 visits.
Our falcon pair began their nest early this year: Their first egg made its appearance on Feb. 13, likely the earliest peregrine falcon egg-laying on record in the Bay Area, according to regional bird researchers.
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 nearly 40 falcon chicks in the last decade alone. In May 2017, 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 June; 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 June, Glenn Stewart, director of the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, banded the young birds – two females and a male named Steph, KD and Iggy after Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala of the world-champion Golden State Warriors. In August, 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. Iggy made his way to the Marin Headlands in late summer. In November, he was hit by a car in Martinez and died. 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 $270,000 in grants—including $10,000 in 2017—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