San Francisco Nest Diary 2006:
A small glitch: At the close of the 2005 season SCPBRG and PG&E were already making plans to install new video camera equipment during the winter, in anticipation of the spring 2006 nesting activities. The camera was installed, and switched on in early February. However, after a few weeks there had been a noticeable absence of courtship activities on camera compared to 2005. Unbeknownst to us at the time, our falcons had plans of their own that we weren’t made aware of until AFTER the nesting season was well underway. Despite nesting on the 33rd floor of the PG&E building for the past three years, George and Gracie had elected to nest on an alternate ledge in 2006!
On March 7th the new nest was located, and Gracie had, to everyone's surprise, already laid her first egg of the season! As it turns out, the new ledge is situated on a building directly across the street from last year’s abode. After some on-site investigation at George and Gracie's new address, SCPBRG staff found a suitable place that the camera could safely be relocated to without the risk of disturbing the new nest. SCPBRG, and PG&E’s intrepid engineering staff, immediately set to work relocating all of the camera, video and communications equipment.
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Note that diary entries list most recent events first
June 4, 2006: Our friends at 135 Main Street, the creators of the "Go Junior" sign pictured below, kindly hosted our fledging celebration today in downtown San Francisco. Even Bay Bridge and freeway off-ramp closures couldn't dampen the spirits of those who came to celebrate the success of our young falcon. The event was well underway with lots of people milling about, when suddenly, the guest of honor himself showed up! There he was perched on the railing just outside the east window, right at eye level! Needless to say all other conversation was immediately halted, and all eyes suddenly turned toward our young tiercel who was found peering through the window staring at us for a change! His visit was brief, but more than welcome by the many people who came to celebrate the 2006 season!
May 30, 2006: For those still watching the camera after Friday's fledging, they were treated to a brief visit by our youngster this evening just before nightfall. He was observed competently flying above the Financial District near 101 California St. earlier in the evening. Then around 8:30 PM PDT, he arrived back on his corner of the nest ledge at 201 Mission, right in front of the camera. He soon settled in for the night, and was found in the same place on camera early the following morning. This is the only night he is known to have returned to this ledge since he fledged.
May 27, 2006: Early Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after fledging, our young male falcon was found perched on the 33rd floor south side ledge of the PG&E building at Main and Mission Streets, where he likely spent the night. He was observed eating a sizeable meal on the ledge, and frequently stood on the ledge flapping his wings vigorously as if contemplating his next flight. Around mid morning he finally left the ledge, with Gracie at his side, and flew across Mission street to land on the northwest corner roof of the 201 Mission building. About an hour later he had a very strong solo flight back to the ledge at PG&E where he spent much of the afternoon. Then again, around 6PM, he had another brief flight across Mission St., before settling back on the ledge at PG&E.
May 26, 2006: At 10:40 AM PDT George and Gracie's 2006 eyas officially became a fledgling! After standing quietly on the southeast corner of the building, without ceremony, he simply launched himself from the ledge for the first time, and we caught it on camera! It was a short, but well executed flight across the street to 123 Mission, where he landed on the bay side of the roof. Staff will remain on the ground for the next couple of days to monitor his progress. He will likely remain in the area for the next few weeks while he learns to hunt, and practices his flying skills. If you're able, it will be worth a visit to see him person, but don't forget your binoculars!
May 25, 2006: This morning began with a beautiful sunrise over the San Francisco Bay, with Gracie perched up on the roof just above the eyas. Shortly after sunrise our young falcon began to thoroughly explore the entire nest ledge area. There was a fair amount of wing flapping, and hopping from one end of the ledge to the other. However, he hasn't yet fledged. A sizeable breakfast, followed by a few additional meals throughout the day, resulted in our youngster spending much of the afternoon napping in the shade on the far western edge of the ledge.
May 24, 2006: Just a few days after our young falcon figured out his way up onto the ledge, it's difficult to believe that the nesting season is almost over. Except when he's hiding in a window alcove, the youngster is usually seen on the ledge, often vigorously flapping his wings, preparing for his inevitable 'first flight'. Many in San Francisco who have been watching the falcons since they first nested on the building in March are eagerly anticipating this impending fledging event. Some are even cheering him on with signs offering a little encouragement in their office windows, such as this one caught today on the webcam in an office across the street..."Go junior"!
May 20, 2006: Another milestone! Over the past few days our youngster's curiosity about what lies beyond the walls surrounding the nest has grown. Finally, this afternoon at 16:25 PDT, our young falcon pulled himself up onto the edge of the nest ledge. Gracie was perched on the outer ledge to greet him, and in no time at all he eagerly began to explore his new found surroundings!
May 18, 2006: What a difference! Our young tiercel has been shedding much of his down in recent days, and appears to change almost by the hour! Although George and Gracie are still periodically observed feeding him, more often than not the adults simply drop food in the nest, and the youngster helps himself. He can often be seen standing among the weeds flapping and stretching his new wings. He has also become quite curious about the world up above him, on the ledge surrounding the nest area. No doubt he'll venture up there very soon, and discover that a whole new view of the world is awaiting him.
May 4, 2006 - Banding Day! At 20 days of age, the eyas was banded shortly before noon today, and determined to be a robust, healthy young male! He was fitted with one band on each leg. A US Fish and Wildlife Service band, and a VID band that reads 91/P on his right leg. Of course, this year's banding ceremony did not go unnoticed by the adults, especially Gracie, who was standing squarely on the nest ledge as the banders approached. Banding however was completed without incident, and the eyas was quickly returned to his favorite place behind the weeds in the planter box.
May 2, 2006: The eyas is now eighteen days old, and has grown almost as much as the vegetation in the planter box. As the weather in San Francisco has been warm and sunny, the youngster often seeks the shade from the plants, and periodically 'disappears' into the weeds. For the most patient observers, occasional glimpses of white down can be caught lurking amidst the dandelions. George and/or Gracie are usually standing guard nearby while the chick is unattended in the nest.
April 20, 2006: The sun has been shining, and the weeds are growing...but that isn't all that is growing in the planter box this week. It's been almost a week since our eyas hatched, and it's growing fast! Gracie spends most of the day brooding at the moment to keep the youngster warm, while George primarily hunts for food, or stands guard near the nest. As the falcons usually take turns on the nest, it is normal to only see one adult on camera at a time. Soon the eyas will be more visible on camera as it will require less brooding by the adults.
April 16, 2006: After the tremendous success of the 2005 season, many had high hopes that George and Gracie would again produce four offspring this year. Unfortunately, three of their four eggs have failed to hatch over the Easter weekend. It is possible that the unseasonably late wet weather in San Francisco contributed to the lower hatching rate this season. However, we are very excited to have one healthy eyas in the nest this year, and look forward to watching it grow on camera over the coming weeks.
April 14, 2006 Update
Our first eyas of the season hatched this evening. The hatchling was observed for the first time on camera at 6:26PM (PDT).
April 14, 2006: As the sun came up this morning, there appeared to be a discarded eggshell outside the nest. This generated lots of anticipation that perhaps the first egg had hatched. Typically, after hatching, the adults will remove the eggshells from the nest. However, Gracie's posture on the nest this morning did not suggest that she was brooding an eyas. Sadly, as the morning progressed, and we were able to see the remaining clutch of eggs on camera, it became apparent that there were no eyases present in the nest. It is unknown if this was a hatching event that failed, or if this egg was inviable for other reasons, and had been broken. Regardless, all that apparently remains is an empty shell. George and Gracie will continue to incubate the three remaining eggs, which are expected to hatch very soon.
April 13, 2006:This evening George dazzled our audience for more than 20 minutes while sitting on the corner of the building perched just below the camera. With the assistance of those watching George from the field, the camera was repositioned remotely to capture George in all his handsome glory. Viewers could see passers-by walking along the sidewalk below, no doubt completely unaware that George was perched 30 stories above them. After a brief preening session, George left the ledge, with Gracie on the nest. Shortly thereafter George was spotted during an aerial defense against an intruding female falcon in the area of Beale St. Gracie soon joined the pursuit, chasing off the intruder, while George returned to the nest to guard the eggs.
April 4, 2006: We're LIVE! Despite a few minor setbacks at the beginning of the season, all of the camera equipment has now been moved to the new nest site. At 8:28AM (PDT) the SCPBRG-PG&E Nest Cam was reactivated...albeit during a torrential rain storm in San Francisco. George and Gracie however appear to be taking this inclement weather in stride.
April 3, 2006: We conducted a hardware test of the new video equipment that's being installed at George and Gracie's new nest site this afternoon. During the test, around 2PM (PDT), Gracie obliged us with our first brief glimpse of the four eggs that she's been patiently incubating since mid-March.
March 31, 2006: The best laid plans...Despite having all of the video hardware installed and ready to go in February, our falcons moved...and so too must the camera. So the camera, and all of it's associated video equipment was transferred across the street to the new building today with the help of our own Glenn Stewart...
March 7, 2006: It's official! George and Gracie have taken up residence in their new penthouse garden ledge across the street from PG&E. Unfortunately there was no camera at the new location to capture this spring's early courtship and egg-laying festivities. However, a photograph was obtained of the first egg of the 2006 season when SCPBRG staff located the new nest site. This photograph was taken while George and Gracie were briefly away from the nest. (This photograph was taken from inside a building, and the nest was NOT disturbed). Photo: Glenn Nevill