Peregrine Falcons of San Jose

The City Hall Peregrines

The Peregrine Falcon is the most popular bird in Downtown San Jose, CA. This may seem odd considering that Downtown San Jose does not seem like the ideal destination for birds of prey. However, a couple of Peregrines have made their home atop San Jose City Hall, and the city has fallen in love with them.

The Peregrine Falcon, historically known as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a large crow-sized falcon. They are known for their hunting technique, which involves a high speed dive that can reach up to 200 mph. The air pressure changes, as a result of this kind of diving, would damage the lungs of the bird if it was not for tiny tubercles located on the nostrils of the falcon. These tubercles guide the powerful airflow away from the nostrils, and enable the bird to breathe comfortably through the dive. Peregrines have a pretty wide breeding range, from the Arctic to the tropics, and they mate for life. The Peregrine population was threatened by the use of DDT in the 1970’s. After they were placed on the endangered species list, conservation efforts were successful in restoring healthy populations. Humanity’s relationship with the Peregrine, referred to as falconry, began with nomads 3,000 years ago in central Asia. Recently they have been used to scare away birds at airports, reducing the risk of bird-plane strikes, and they were used to intercept homing pigeons during World War II.

So back to San Jose, since 2007, fans of falcons have been able to watch a pair of Peregrines, Clara and Esteban Colbert, nesting atop the roof of City Hall. The City of San Jose partnered with the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group at the University of California Santa Cruz to make this possible. Clara and Esteban are currently being filmed by a webcam, which is streaming live. In the beginning of May, Clara and Esteban became the proud parents of two males and one female, all in good health. Currently, you can watch Clara feed and nurture her young, and it is truly a remarkable experience.

Direct link to the webcam: http://sanjose.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=91

More information on falcons in San Jose: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/falcons/index.asp