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***Note about these peregrines: All signs suggest another eventful season of “Keeping Up With the Peregrines.” However, there are no guarantees. These are wild birds in an urban environment. Despite her best maternal efforts, the mom’s eggs may not hatch. Even if they do, the first-year survival rate of hatchlings is about 50%. The hazards they face include predation from hawks and owls, starvation and disease. Stay hopeful and optimistic. Just remember, Mother Nature is always in charge!

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. Last year (2019) proved very successful for the falcons as the parents welcomed four youngsters.

Livestream watchers enjoyed nearly round-the-clock peregrine activities until mid-June when the birds left the nest. Get the recap from Keeping Up With the Peregrines: Season 1.

The falcon parents have returned to their nest. Now it's time to wait and see if they're ready for another round of hatchlings.

About the Peregrine Falcon

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)

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 typically begin flying away from the nest at the medical center sometime in mid-June. Experts say the birds usually stay in the area an additional month while their parents continue to feed them and encourage them to hunt.

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 man-made 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.