Success! In addition to other good news this week, we have an egg-cellent development to share over at the falcon's nest on top of PG&E's Beale Street headquarters: Not one but three of the eggs that Val laid in March have hatched.*
There was a stir on the falcon cam discussion board starting on Sunday after one falcon watcher posted that there was "maybe a pip" — meaning that there appeared to be a hole poked in one egg from a baby bird's beak inside. And yes, as of Monday, one falcon hatchling was in full view, and as of this morning, Momma Val stood up long enough for a glimpse of two wee puffballs, with a second that just hatched early today — with two more eggs left to hatch. She laid a clutch of four eggs between February 26 and March 6, so we're likely to see the next two hatchlings emerge in the coming days — assuming both eggs were viable. [Update: There are three now, see below.]
Below, video from Wednesday morning, in which we get to see both babies.
It looks like there are three more eggs there, but one is a broken shell.
Update: As of about 4 p.m. Wednesday, a third hatchling was emerging, and in video from Thursday morning we can see them all around the 3:20 mark.
This is all a welcome turnaround from the unfortunate events of last year. Val had a clutch of eggs with a previous mate, Dan, none of which hatched, and she then took up with a younger mate, Canyon, with whom she had a second clutch of eggs that were set to hatch as we were all in the throes of deep quarantine in mid-June. The only hatchling to emerge was immediately killed by Canyon — and the falcon watchers defend this saying he "saw prey" and it's nature and he was still basically a juvenile.
That was cold comfort, and so SFist has used words like "infanticide" which the falcon fans don't approve of.
Anyway, so far so good with the 2021 brood, and everything else is history. Val previously had a clutch of four eggs with Dan in 2019, three of which hatched, and two of which survived to maturity.
PG&E has been hosting a peregrine falcon nest on its headquarters since 2004, and there's been live cam footage going back to 2007. California's peregrine falcon population was once near extinction, but thanks to conservation efforts, they have bounced back — and this nest alone has produced 45 falcon chicks in just the last decade.
These chicks are going to grow very fast, and they will be full-sized juvenile falcons with dark feathers in about six weeks — much like we saw with the Berkeley brood last summer.
Over in Berkeley, the falcon pair that nests atop the Campanile tower, Annie and Grinnell, has a clutch of four eggs that are nearing full incubation, with mom and dad sharing incubation duties, but they're about two weeks behind the SF clutch.
Buckle up! We've compressed 14 hours of incubation into 24 riveting seconds. Excitement! Adventure! Fluffy falcons! This video has one of those things!#timelapse #adayinthelife #thewaitingisthehardestpart pic.twitter.com/gmEEpR9bBo— CalFalconCam (@CalFalconCam) April 2, 2021
*This post has been updated to show that three hatchlings have now emerged.