Young peregrine falcon sitting on a building ledge(Photo courtesy: James Holmes, M.D.)

Since at least 2015, a pair of peregrine falcons has made their home on UC Davis Medical Center's roof. Their nest is located a safe distance from the helicopter's helipad. This year (2019) proved very successful for the falcons. Livestream watchers enjoyed nearly round-the-clock peregrine activities and avian antics until mid-June when the birds left the nest.

Like the hatchlings above, plan on retuning to your viewing perch next year for more livestreaming of our falcon family.

Keeping Up with the Peregrines

Peregrine falcon flying

(Photo courtesy: Ken Waller, UC Davis Health)

Season 1 recap: Known for providing good health and well-being for all, UC Davis Medical Center enjoyed the successful hatchings of four peregrine chicks during the first week of May 2019. The three males and one female grew quickly and started flying in early June. The boys started leaving the nest before their sister. By August, all four younsters will have established their own nesting areas within the region, wherever there is ample food supply.

Peregrine falcon perched on ledge with Sacramento skyline behind

(Photo courtesy: Ken Waller, UC Davis Health)

Our falcon livestream should be active again in March 2020. Be sure to set your URL so you're ready for Season 2: "Game of Nests."

In the meantime, scroll down for this season's recap and photos.

July 1, 2019

It's truly an empty-nest syndrome for our peregrine parents now. Their four hatchlings flew the crib in mid-June. But like adolescents everywhere, they will still rely on their parents -- at least for the first month or so. The kids still have been seen hanging out near the hospital, and today one of them was spotted near 49th and Broadway. All are expected to seek winged adventures elsewhere in the region by late August.

Young peregrine falcon flying over UC Davis Medical Center

June 13, 2019

After being found wandering the streets and getting picked up by Animal Control, one of the fledglings who's still learning to fly was released back to its nest by a specialist from Sacramento's Wildlife Care Association.

Young peregrine falcon is returned to its nest

June 12, 2019

The nest is mostly empty now. The four recent hatchlings just started to fly. Staff and visitors report seeing them around the hospital and other nearby buildings.

Young peregrine falcon sitting on a window ledge

Photo courtesy James Holmes

June 10, 2019

They’re flying! Well, 3 out of 4 of them are flying. The young male peregrines started flying over the weekend. Nurse Diane Boyer, working on the E-6 Cardiothoracic Unit, photographed one of them resting on a window ledge outside her unit.

Young peregrine falcon flapping its wings on a window ledge

June 10, 2019

This youngster discovered the hard way that she wasn’t quite ready to fly yet. She was found wandering around the hospital’s loading dock, 14 floors below the nest. An apprentice falconer safely returned her to the nest.

Falcon expert holding fallen peregrine falcon

June 9, 2019

What a difference a month makes for newborn falcons. Emergency room physician James Holmes took this photo outside his office, which is about 10 floors below the nesting area and in another building.

Young peregrine falcon resting on a window ledge

June 6, 2019

Just about ready to fly. Three of the youngsters were really flapping their wings today, running up and down the edge of the building.

Three peregrine chicks standing on the edge of their nest area

June 2, 2019

Nearly a month since birth and the chicks are now edging toward their first flights.

Four peregrine chicks now edging toward their first flight

May 31, 2019

The chicks are growing and exploring.

Four peregrine chicks, now bigger, exploring their nest

May 26, 2019

Notice the feathers are gaining color.

Four peregrine chicks huddled together with their feathers gaining color

May 23, 2019

As they grow and gain strength, the chicks leave the nest to explore their rooftop surroundings in the early morning light.

Morning sunlight shining on the four peregrine chicks moving around their nest

May 21, 2019

One of the chicks being returned to the nest (with mom closely watching nearby).

A peregrine chick being returned to it's nest after a health check-up

May 20, 2019

The kids huddle with mom nearby.

Four peregrine chicks, now bigger, in their nest with their mom standing next to them

May 17, 2019

Basking in the afternoon sun.

Four peregrine chicks in their nest basking in the afternoon sun

May 15, 2019

Feeding time at the nest.

Four peregrine chicks huddled together in their nest being fed by their mom

May 13, 2019

Mom stands nearby in the afternoon sun.

Afternoon sun shining on the four peregrine chicks huddled together in their nest with mom standing next to them

May 10, 2019

The young hatchlings start finding a little bit of their own space.

Four peregrine chicks beginning to move around in their nest

May 9, 2019

The chicks eye their surroundings, but are not moving too much.

Four peregrine chicks huddled together in their nest with their mom flying nearby

May 6, 2019

Four new peregrine falcon chicks huddle in their nest high atop UC Davis Medical Center.

Four peregrine chicks huddled together in their nest

About the Peregrine Falcon

The peregrine falcon was previously on the federal list of Endangered Species and was one of the first birds to be placed on California's Endangered Species List. The raptor was removed from the federal list in 1999, thanks to effort by The Peregrine Fund and others. The ban of DDT in 1972 across the U.S. also helped the species recover, leading to its removal from the state Endangered Species List in 2009.

Experts estimate the first-year survival rate for the chicks will be about 50%, as urban falcons face hazards such as injury, illness, and predators. The young birds are expected to begin flying away from the nest sometime in mid-June. Experts say the birds will likely stay in the area an additional month while their parents continue to feed them and encourage them to hunt.

Female peregrine falcon flying over UC Davis Medical CenterThe peregrine falcon mom at UC Davis Medical Center has been keeping a very watchful eye on her four new nesting chicks. (Photo by Ken Waller, UC Davis Health)

Here are a few other facts about peregrine falcons:

  • Scientific name: Falco peregrinus
  • Body length: 13-20 in (33-50 cm)
  • Wingspan: 31-48 in (78-122 cm)
  • Weight: 1 to 3.5 lbs (0.4-1.5 kg)
  • Like many raptors, peregrine falcon females are larger than males.
  • Peregrine falcons can hit top speeds in flight of 200 mph and are considered the fastest animal on earth.
  • Peregrines don't build typical nests like other birds, but instead lay eggs in a shallow indentation on the edge of a high cliff or other manmade structure, like a building or bridge.
  • Baby peregrine falcons can start flying at 43 to 44 days old.
  • Peregrines typically prey on small- to medium-sized birds, like songbirds, ducks, doves and pigeons. They are also known to feed on small reptiles, mammals and bats.

To learn more about the peregrine falcon and other birds of prey, check out the California Raptor Center at UC Davis and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.