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Peregrine Falcons at NRDC's San Francisco Office

George Peridas

Posted March 5, 2013

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[Update Mar8, 2013: more photos here

Some times working for an environmental group comes with added bonuses. A pair of peregrine falcons is nesting just outside our window on Sutter St. in downtown San Francisco, providing an amazing daily spectacle! They fly between our building and the clock tower opposite on Market St., and regularly bring back rodents and birds to feast on in an impressive display of raw nature in the heart of an urban environment. This is likely a different pair to the one that lives near the Embarcadero.

Here are a couple of photos I took today:


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elisabeth gomesMar 6 2013 01:07 PM

eu desejo continuar vendo falcões qdo chego à minha janela

Allen FishMar 6 2013 02:12 PM

Hi George - Jack Hayden just sent me the link to your incredible shots - since yuo are getting so close, keep an eye out for an op to photograph the legs to see if they are banded, and if one leg is banded, to see what the numbers are. This is rarely possible without a spotting scope and a very cooperative bird, but your bird looks to be cooperative. Happy hunting! Allen Fish

Ann GreinerMar 6 2013 02:35 PM

This is indeed a pair in addition to the (already nesting) pair on the PGE building.

SCPBRG volunteers are monitoring this second pair in addition to our PGE falcons.

Ann GreinerMar 6 2013 02:45 PM

It is more likely that their prey base is winged. We monitor the PGE peregrines pretty closely (having a webcam on their scrap helps quite a bit) and in the past 10 years, have yet to see them bring a rodent into the scrape.

We have however, seen coastal and wetland peregrines eat rodents, but that environment is quite different, and we do not typically see adult peregrines on the ground in the cities.

The babies sometimes end up on the pavement, at which point, we give them an elevator ride back to their nest ledge for a 're-do'.

Mary MalecMar 6 2013 03:02 PM

We've had scopes on them and they are not banded. What is really amazing is that they are only 6 blocks from the downtown SF pair and they seem to have worked out acceptable boundaries.

Paula MersingMar 6 2013 03:37 PM

Thank you so much for sharing the article and pics for us to enjoy. Keep us posted on the family's progress. This is great and u are one lucky man for being able to be this close to them.

Lara EttensonMar 6 2013 06:35 PM

Thank you to everyone for your comments. My office is right next to where George took those pictures and it's been a wonderful experience watching the falcons. In response to Ann G, I am pretty sure I saw a tail a couple of times (in addition to disgarded feathers flying by my window during feeding time). I didn't have my binoculars out, but am curious if it could be an adaptation to city life? I will keep my binos out from now on and double check the next time I see them feeding.

Mary ChafeyMar 7 2013 06:04 AM

I'm glad that SCPBRG is monitoring this pair. It's pretty amazing that they've been "allowed" to nest somewhat near the PG&E pair. You are so lucky to have a "birds' eye" view!

Jenna JeffersonMar 7 2013 11:11 AM

Incredible pictures. What a treat!

Ann GreinerMar 8 2013 02:59 AM

@ Lara Ettenson - Peregrines have been (documented) occupants of cities since before the turn of the century. The stated reason is that our urban environments attract pigeons, which are a favored prey of peregrines.

In order to hunt rodents, the birds would, more often than not, need to come to ground - they have not been observed exhibiting this behavior - they have evolved to hunt in the air.

We have seen some fully plucked birds brought in that bore a close resemblance to rodents, but upon further inspection, a cleanly plucked wing can look a lot like a tail. Also, we pull prey remains from the nest every year and have found only bird species.

That said, it would be fantastic if you were able to document these birds taking rodents as prey. As I mentioned, we have seen coastal and wetlands Pefas taking rodents, but habituation by urban birds would imply aerial over terrestrial hunting, as there are any more obstacles and dangers on the ground (cars and people to name a few).

Ingrid TaylarMar 8 2013 01:05 PM

Hi George, Ann or any other commenters here who may know ...

I heard that the building refused a nest box accommodation for this pair. Do you know if there was a reason given? I was disappointed to learn that.

Thanks for posting these photos. I hope it works out well for these two.

Vennie YancyMar 9 2013 12:19 PM

Glad to find this blog about the nearby nest of another pair of Peregrines. What exquisite photos here!
I am glad they were mentioned on the PG&E forum so I could learn about them. I sure hope something good can be done for them regards a secure scrape area.

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