Most of you probably remember when the peregrine falcons that live on the top of the PG&E building in downtown San Francisco provided an apt contribution to the horror show of 2020 — first with a nest of eggs that never hatched, and then with the mid-June murder of the sole hatchling in a second clutch.
Well, it's a new year, and with the rest of the hopeful things we have to celebrate in 2021, we have a new clutch of eggs laid by Val, the female of the pair in the San Francisco nest. Val, who is now bonded to a younger male named Canyon — who supplanted her previous mate last year leading to some of the trouble — laid her first egg of the season on February 26, with a second between February 28 and March 1. And as shown in the video below, a third egg arrived last week, along with a fourth on March 6. As the falcon experts say, now the "serious incubation" can begin.
You can watch the quiet times of the incubation on the live feed here, every day.
We don't need to do any triggering or relive the tragedy of last year in great detail. But suffice it to say, Val's first clutch of eggs in 2020 — with former mate Dan — never hatched. It's nature, and things happen. The younger Canyon took up with Val later in the spring, and come May, she was incubating a new clutch of three eggs mixed in with several of the first four that didn't hatch. Then one afternoon in June when she was out of the nest and Canyon was guarding it, an egg hatched, Canyon saw prey and not his own progeny, and the rest is history.
Four or five non-viable eggs remained in the nest for months, in a continuing depressing display by Val. But then by the fall, the nest was cleared again, and Val and Canyon's love story lived on through this relatively mild winter.
Now, we have about a month to wait to see little fluffball hatchlings appear for the first time since 2019 — that year, two out of three of Val's hatchlings survived. A clutch takes an average of 33 days to incubate, which would be measure from around the third laying, which was around March 4. That puts the first hatching sometime around April 7, give or take. And hopefully this will a year without infanticide!
Below, a bit of comic relief from Monday in the nest of Val and Canyon, where dad sometimes helps out with the incubating. Over at the PG&E falcons message board, user "diamondsb" describes the situation thusly: "Canyon was on the eggs. Around 12:22 pm, Val came over and perched on the edge of the box and chirped at him a bit. Looked like she she wanted a turn on the eggs, but he didn't move. Finally around 12:30, she must have gotten tired of waiting, so she went into the nest and stepped on his tail, which made him get up immediately."
The "comedic" bit happens around the 9:50 mark.
Over at UC Berkeley, the peregrine pair Annie and Grinnell laid their first egg Wednesday morning just before 2 a.m. With a clutch of four expected by the middle of next week, that hatching should be about 10 days or two weeks after the San Francisco one, so April 15th-ish.
Congratulations, Annie and Grinnell! Egg #1 was laid at 1:55am. We expect there will be 4 laid in total, approximately 48 hours apart. Serious incubation won't start until the third egg is laid, at which point we'll be able to estimate hatch day. pic.twitter.com/8xWYmZn4gD— CalFalconCam (@CalFalconCam) March 10, 2021
Last year, Annie and Grinnell were more successful with their brood, and they raised three fledglings who were named Redwood, Sequoia, and Poppy — two boys and a girl. They were very cute
By July they were fully fledged juveniles, all flying around the Cal campus. And now they've left the nest to start lives of their own.
With Poppy, Redwood, and Sequoia flying around campus, our updates are likely to become more sporadic.— CalFalconCam (@CalFalconCam) July 1, 2020
This has been a truly amazing year and we wanted to take a moment to thank everyone involved in this project: https://t.co/G83XLcX6A1
Thank you! pic.twitter.com/Pn0SzlnGqE
Previously: Bad News: Male Peregrine Falcon Ate First Hatchling As It Emerged From Egg In PG&E Building Nest