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Welcome to Season 3 of our peregrine falcons’ livestream from the rooftop of UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

After a thrilling season last year for the UC Davis Medical Center peregrine family (with five chicks!), viewers of the rooftop-nest livestream have high hopes for this year. The first egg appeared on March 10 – several weeks earlier than eggs-pected! And two more arrived several days later.

Since at least 2015, peregrine falcons have made their home at the medical center. Their nest is located a safe distance from the hospital’s busy helipad.

This year, as usual, the peregrines exhibited typical courting behavior around the nest site. If everything goes well, the chick(s) will be hatching toward the end of April. Typically, 3 to 4 eggs are laid, with only two or three birds successfully hatching.

A look back at Seasons 1 and 2

falcon mom and eggsLast year (2020) was the most successful year for our peregrine falcon parents. They had a record-setting five hatchlings in April: three females and two males. Unfortunately, one hatchling didn't make it. However, the four young falcons were seen intermittently around the nest until late June. Get the recap from Season 2.

2019 was the first year the falcons were livestreamed. It was also a very successful year as the parents welcomed four youngsters. Livestream watchers enjoyed peregrine activities until mid-June, when the birds left the nest. Get the recap from Season 1.

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.