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2017-04-13. Rare peregrine falcons claim UC Berkeley’s Campanile as temporary home.

posted Apr 16, 2017, 6:34 PM by Alan Gould
By Andrea Platten, The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 6. Excerpt: ...At UC Berkeley, there are two new subjects for a quick game of “I spy” — a pair of rare peregrine falcons perched atop the Campanile. ...Peregrine falcons are the fastest known animal on Earth — they can reach 242 mph in a dive — and exclusively eat other birds, according to Glenn Stewart, director of the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group and an expert on peregrine falcons. ...The species can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In California’s large cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, they have adapted to the built urban environment, trading cliffs for clock towers and other tall man-made structures. There are only 50 to 60 pairs in the Bay Area, Stewart estimated. It’s unclear whether the pair perched on the Campanile have laid eggs there, but peregrines have a poor track record of nesting on the tower during mating season. ...PG&E has set up a livestream to monitor peregrine falcons that visit its 77 Beale St. headquarters in downtown San Francisco. Last year, three eggs hatched atop the skyscraper — Talon, Grace and Flash, whose names were suggested by a Los Gatos kindergarten class — with a little help from Stewart. But nesting on towers poses a whole new risk to the falcons. In young peregrines’ natural habitats, cliffs provide multiple opportunities for the fledglings to land — on trees, bushes or built-in shelves. Skyscrapers are more sleek and angular, so chicks often plunge hundreds of feet to their deaths when they attempt to fly, Bell said. “Their first flight is often their last flight,” he said. “You need human intervention at that point to pick it up and put it back in the nest.” ...Currently, there are an estimated 300 pairs of peregrine falcons statewide — a historic high in California. But almost 50 years ago, they were nearly extinct. The usage of the pesticide DDT after World War II poisoned the falcons and thinned their eggshells.... A statewide survey found only two pairs in 1970, and the Eastern peregrine falcon temporarily went extinct east of the Mississippi River. ...The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service later removed the peregrine falcon from its endangered species list in 1999....  http://www.dailycal.org/2017/04/13/rare-peregrine-falcons-claim-campanile-temporary-home/