San Francisco Nest Diary 2007:
In anticipation of the 2007 nesting activities, SCPBRG assisted PG&E with positioning cameras on the northwest and southeast corners of the PG&E building late last fall. SCPBRG began monitoring the cameras in early February, and noted that was little to no activity at either of the two potential nesting sites through early March.
Again, keeping SCPBRG on their toes, George and Gracie had plans of their own for the 2007 season. Field observations of the falcon's behavior in early March suggested they may be incubating eggs on the west span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Staff from SCPBRG confirmed that George and Gracie indeed were nesting on the Bridge shortly thereafter. Bridges are known to be particularly lethal environments for young falcons to fledge from. Highly erratic winds can result in the young birds falling to the water below, or landing on the roadbed. George himself was hatched at this same site in 1999, and removed from the bridge by SCPBRG biologists before he could fledge.
On March 27, SCPBRG biologists intended to rescue George and Gracie's eggs from the bridge. However, extremely high winds that morning prevented that effort.
A second attempt to retrieve the eggs from the unsafe bridge nest location was conducted on the morning of March 30th. SCPBRG successfully retrieved three eggs from George and Gracie's nest. Preliminary analysis has shown that at least two of the three eggs are viable. SCPBRG will incubate the eggs, and raise the eyases until they are fit to be released back into the wild.
SCPBRG is very grateful for PG&E's contribution to help fund this Bay Bridge rescue, and to further support peregrine conservation efforts.
For news and information: Join the PG&E Falcons Discussion Forum.
Note that diary entries list most recent events first
June 3, 2007: Brigette fledged early this morning and landed on a cliff ledge by Younger Lagoon. She made a very strong first flight, and she stayed on the cliff for the rest of day, undisturbed, soaking in her new surroundings. SCPBRG staff will continue to leave food for her during the coming weeks until she is able to hunt on her own. Visitors to the Seymour Center should be treated to the occasional sighting, so it's worth bringing binoculars if you plan to visit the Long Marine Campus during the next couple of weeks.
June 2, 2007: The first of George and Gracie's 2007 offspring, dubbed "Bridgette" by her fans, was released this morning at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz. The falcon was greeted by a crowd of well-wishers that gathered at the marine lab this morning to witness the release. When the hack box was opened, she was initially a little shy, but after short while we ventured out to the ledge to investigate her new surroundings. She is one of three falcons released at the lab this morning, along with a male and female peregrine of similar age that were retrieved from the eastern span of the Bay Bridge in May. She hasn't yet flown, but we'll keep you updated on her progress in the coming days.
May 30: 2007: George and Gracie's second eyas of 2007 hatches at SCPBRG! In the very early hours this morning the lone egg, that was left unattended on the PG&E ledge, hatched! The egg was incubated by a captive falcon for the first 2 weeks of incubation, and then transferred to an incubator at SCPBRG's breeding facility. So just as George and Gracie's first falcon of the season is preparing to fledge, their second youngster arrives just in time to extend the season a little longer.
May 27, 2007: TWO doses of good news to report. The first is that George and Gracie's young female falcon that was hatched from an egg retrieved from the western span of the Bay Bridge in March, is now residing at Long Marine Lab, awaiting her final release! She will be released next Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 10 AM near the Marine Lab's Seymour Discovery Center. The public is welcome to attend. Click here for the Seymour Center Visitor Information and Map. She will be released along with two other young peregrines, a male, and female, that were retrieved from the eastern span of the Bay Bridge earlier this month. The second snippet of good news, is that the lone egg retrieved from PG&E on April 27th, a product of George and Gracie's second attempt at nesting this spring, has pipped! The egg should hatch within the next 48 hours, and we'll keep you updated as to its progress over the next few days. Stay tuned!
May 8, 2007: Good news. The lone egg that was retrieved from the nest at PG&E on April 27th, appears to be fertile. The egg is currently being naturally incubated by a captive falcon, and thus far the egg does appear to be viable. We'll periodically post updates here on its progress. Meanwhile, the young eyas that hatched on April 20th, from George and Gracie's first clutch of eggs, is doing very well, and has been fostered in with a pair of captive falcons. This falcon pair will continue to raise it, negating the need for any further human contact, until it is old enough to be released into the wild.
April 29, 2007: It has been just 10 days since George and Grace's egg that was taken from the Bay Bridge hatched. Already the difference in the past week is remarkable. When compared with others that are the same age, it seems that this year George and Gracie's youngster is a female. To date, George and Gracie have only produced one other female offspring, and she was hatched on the PG&E building ledge in 2005 along with 3 males.
April 27, 2007: It has now been one week since George and Gracie laid their egg in the nest box at PG&E. Unfortunately, Gracie has not laid any additional eggs, and neither bird has returned to the nest box in the last few days. As such, SCPBRG removed the single egg this morning from PG&E for incubation at their breeding facility in Santa Cruz. In exchange, four dummy ceramic eggs were placed in the nest tray. George is still frequently seen perching along the nest ledge, and hopefully he will see the full clutch of dummy eggs and this will stimulate him to begin incubating, and in turn lead Gracie to incubate them as well. There is no guarantee this will happen, but if both birds do begin incubating the eggs soon, their eyas that hatched last week can hopefully then be exchanged for the dummy eggs, and George and Gracie can continue to raise it through fledging. This process is similar to the direct fostering method that SCPBRG has used previously to encourage peregrine pairs to raise offspring that weren't necessarily their own. Stay tuned for updates...
April 22, 2007: At the end of March we retrieved two viable eggs from George and Gracie's precarious first nest on the Bay Bridge. Unfortunately, although both eggs came to full term, one chick was found to have a severe developmental problem at hatching yesterday afternoon, and despite immediate veterinary intervention, the chick could not be saved. The good news is that its sibling hatched out without incident late Friday night (pictured here), and is doing great. We have borrowed a similar-aged young anatum peregrine chick from a friend to keep the surviving chick company as it grows.
April 21, 2007: The suspense is now over! Sometime between sunset last night, and sunrise this morning, Gracie finally put the new scrape to good use, and has laid the first egg of her second clutch, at PG&E! Hopefully there will be more eggs to follow over the next week. It is normal for the egg(s) to be unattended by the parents at first, as they don't usually begin sitting on the eggs full time (known as hard incubation) until around the time the third egg is laid. George and Gracie are not far away, and will be keeping a close eye on the nest area from this point onward.
April 20, 2007: This has been a week filled with suspense and much anticipation. George and Gracie have continued with their regular courtship displays on camera since first reappearing in the PG&E nest box last week. However, to date, Gracie has not yet laid any new eggs. So we all continue to watch and wait...and wait...and hope that Gracie will soon lay her second clutch of eggs on the PG&E ledge. Meanwhile, George and Gracie's two viable eggs that were removed from the Bay Bridge have pipped, and are expected to hatch over the next couple of days! Check back soon for an update...
April 15, 2007: On Friday, George and Gracie were not seen once in the PG&E nest box. However, on Saturday there was plenty of activity on camera to make up for Friday's absence. More bowing, ee-chupping, and lots of scraping by both George and Gracie. The scrape is now well defined, and the depression in the gravel is very easy to see. George was seen early this morning in the nest box, and both birds have spent most of the day so far either perched on the PG&E headquarters building, or the Spear Tower. There are still no eggs though, so the suspense continues...stay tuned!
April 12, 2007: George and/or Gracie came to the southeastern nest tray at PG&E no less than four times today. This morning about 10 AM George made a very brief cameo appearance on camera. Then just before 1 PM BOTH George and Gracie entered the nest box together. There was a brief bowing and chupping display before both birds left. Around 4 PM George returned again, and this time was seen scraping in the nest tray. The main show however didn't happen until about 5:20 PM. George entered the box first, quickly followed by Gracie, and for more than 10 minutes, the pair were engaged in a full mutual ledge display in the nest box. George left the nest area, and Gracie spent a few minutes scraping, and rearranging gravel in the tray before she left.
April 11, 2007: An unexpected surprise! While George and Gracie's eggs that were rescued from the bridge are warm and cozy in our incubators, George and Gracie appear to be investigating a new nest opportunity. Although the birds did not nest at PG&E earlier this spring, the cameras are still on, and checked periodically by SCPBRG staff for signs of any activity. After a discussion forum member noted that one of the birds was perched on the PG&E building this afternoon, we decided to check the two nest sites at PG&E via the cameras. Around 4:15 PM, it seemed evident that someone had been moving some gravel in the southeast corner nest box. Lo and behold, at 4:35 PM, Gracie flies into the nest box, and begins scraping! If Gracie's first clutch of eggs were removed early enough from the bridge, it is possible that she will lay a second clutch of eggs in the next few days. The question is, will she lay them at PG&E? Stay tuned!
April 6, 2007: SCPBRG re-candled George and Gracie's eggs today. Two eggs are fertile, and appear to be developing normally. The third egg, which has been incubated since the eggs were retrieved from the Bridge, has now been confirmed to be inviable.
March 31, 2007: SCPBRG candled George and Gracie's eggs today, and confirmed that two of the eggs are viable. The third egg appears to at least be fertile, but it's still too early to see movement to confirm its viability at this stage.
March 30, 2007: SCPBRG's Brian Latta, and Alex Stewart, descended into George and Gracie's new eyrie on the Bay Bridge today. Past experience has shown that the Bay Bridge is a particularly lethal environment for young falcons to live. Erratic winds can blow inexperienced falcons down into the water below, or cause the young birds to land on the road bed above the nest. Brian and Alex discovered that George and Gracie had laid 3 eggs in this precarious location. The eggs were removed, and placed into a portable incubator for transport to SCPBRG's breeding facility.