Peregrine Parents Pay Toll For Laying in Lethal Lair

George and Gracie, well documented and beloved downtown duo, have apparently laid new falcon eggs on the central anchorage of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Fans of their future fledgling falcons, worried the babies may fall onto the roadway after hatching, are sending meddling members of UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group to remove the eggs. The lil’ raptors, known to ornithologists as “eyases” will instead be hatched in a research facility down the coast in Santa Cruz, where we can assume baby bird birkenstocks are more widely available, and the Grateful Dead plays in the incubator on an endless mellowing loop…

For three of the past 5 years the celebrity peregrine pair nested on a ledge 33 floors above the financial district at 77 Beale Street on the PG & E bldg. A web cam was installed in 2005 so voyeuristic fans from around the world could observe the pair via the Internet.

for more background and details on this story as it hatches see the links after the fold

Peregrines are a fully protected and endangered species in California after the population declined to zero known nesting pairs east of the Mississippi. Today, there are an estimated 250 peregrine falcon nesting pairs in California, but I’m sure he Bush admin’s planned war on the endangered species act revealed this week will straighten out this growing menace.

According to PG & E, who help fund the research & egg intervention,

“In 2004, George and Gracie successfully hatched two eggs at the PG&E nest and later returned in 2005 to raise four more eyases. Last year the couple hatched one egg in a planter atop 201 Mission Street directly across from the PG&E nest on 77 Beale Street.”

1 Comment so far

  1. Glenn Nevill (unregistered) on March 28th, 2007 @ 5:38 pm

    The fans are not sending anyone to take the eggs. The eggs are being removed by the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group biologists.

    The research group has learned through hard experience what happens to the fledglings that try to fledge from a bridge like the Bay Bridge. The success rate of a successful fledge in this situation is less than 5%. Most of the birds end up drowning in the water below. The nest site is more than a mile from land. If the birds survive by flying upward instead of down, they usually end up on the road bed where they get run over.

    By taking the eggs, the hope is the birds will relocate in a safer site on land and lay again. The removed eggs will be foster incubated, when they hatch and grow up they will be released safely. They will be kept wild with minimal contact with humans, much as in the California Condor breeding program. The male of this pair, George, was taken from the bridge as an eyas and foster cared for by his maternal grandmother who was a captive breeder. He subsequently was released, made his way back up from San Gregorio where the hack site was located and found his mate Gracie.

    You can say that they are meddling if you want to, but it saves young falcon lives and this kind of action was what brought the falcon back from the edge of extinction and helped get the peregrine off the endangered species list in 1999.

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