The history
Sunday February 18th 2024, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Years ago, San Jose had a new city hall with an HVAC ledge with a half-wall eighteen stories up. (And every time I look at it I think of whoever didn’t bother to smooth that sloppy upper surface down because surely nobody would ever lay eyes on it. Hah!)

A yearling female peregrine falcon spotted it, decided that cliff would make a great and well-protected territory, and claimed it. A male peregrine spotted her and it and decided that was a deal worth waiting around for a year for while she grew up. Peregrines were still vanishingly rare then as the species recovered, and who knew if he might ever get another chance at a mate and a territory.

Remote-control cameras were set up, and by the time they were actually ready to nest a biologist had put a wooden box with gravel in it for them to lay their eggs into. Wildlike.

And thus began the San Jose City Hall peregrines. Some may remember that I was on that camera crew for a season.

Last year with the avian flu decimating local populations we had a pair and expectations of egg laying any day–and then the female was found on the ground dying. Positive for flu. The male apparently did, too.

Another pair came in. Courtship ensued. The male vanished.

A yearling male found the place and a female who gave him the side-eye at first. But sometimes yearlings can pull it off and there were no adults around fending him off or trying to take over so she let him stay, and the one viable egg she laid may have been his or may have been the previous male’s–but whatever, they were an established pair with a territory now and they raised young together.

He’s an adult now and they’ve been having a good start to the season.

Today a yearling female found this great place to claim!

Now, a good reason why juvenile raptors have different plumage from the adults is so that the adults won’t attack them, just give them notice that this is taken, mosey on along now, young’un, shoo.

But she didn’t want to.


(She’s a teenager.) No! Not gonna! You can’t make me!

At first it was just the male swooping at her; then the female joined in. They didn’t go talon-to-talon attacking, they just dive-bombed close enough that she ducked again and again and again, her feathers a-kimbo, nearly falling off the ledge but determined. It was quite the show.

But at last she went on her way.

Which means, if anything happens to the current female, there will be a new one likely watching and waiting to step right in. And peregrine falcons, even juveniles, will adopt and raise any nestlings if they don’t have any of their own to watch over.

That male’s got a pretty sweet deal going.

And our nest just got a bit of an insurance policy.

2 Comments so far
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So very cool! Thank you for sharing.

Comment by DebbieR 02.19.24 @ 10:13 am

No mention of lumps? I hope that means things are feeling less ragged, not that you are sparing us.

Either way, stories of wildlife success are a comfort.

Comment by Ellen 02.19.24 @ 5:30 pm

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