Falcon City

March 6, 2009

In early spring, downtown San Francisco’soffice workers are treated to quite an air show outside their office windows.In recent years, George and Gracie (a young, mating pair of peregrine falcons)have chosen to nest among the soaring skyscrapers just south of Market Street. The pair has acquired an enthusiasticfollowing since they were first spotted nesting on a high ledge in the PG&Eheadquarters building in 2003.

In 2005, PG&E worked with the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Groupto install cameras near the falcons’ nesting box or “scrape,” soperegrine fans from the Bay Area and beyond could watch the nesting processfrom start to finish–from George and Gracie’s mating displays, to egg layingand incubation, to feeding voracious young, and finally to the fledging of thechicks.

George and Gracie have changed nest locations a couple of times over thepast few years, but they remain in the same general vicinity.  Last spring,they nested in a planter box perched 30 floors above Mission Street, with a grand view of the Bay Bridge.  This year, the pair has returned to the moresheltered nesting scrape in the PG&E building where they are now takingturns incubating their recently laid egg.

Peregrines select nest sites that will both provide protection for theiryoung and also give the adults ready access to prey. On the crowded streets of San Francisco, that means pigeons. And there’s no shortageof those. But peregrines will also hunt other small birds and rodents. Fordowntown office workers, there’s nothing quite like seeing a diving peregrinesnatch a bird in flight right outside your window!

More information about George and Gracie and a link to the web cam toview their lofty nest can be found at the SantaCruz Predatory Bird Research Group website.

About the Author

Bay Area native Jessica Taekman spends her spare time hiking, surfing, and baking.