Last year was a bitch for San Francisco’s famous Peregrine couple. None of their three fledglings survived life in the city. “Hi” died in a collision with a window on one of his early flights. Liwa went MIA after being grounded following a minor injury. She was found dead later by someone who called in her band number. And Kiwel, although rescued after being grounded with a clavicle injury, passed away later in her rehabilitation clinic.

I wrote a bit about these travails in a post last year, as I followed the progress of San Francisco’s young Peregrine Falcons on the PG&E Nest Cam. It’s a project of the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group.

Bonding and Mourning

I shed tears in the face of last year’s trauma. I don’t use the word “trauma” lightly. The loss of the young falcons, after watching them hatch and then develop under the watchful orb of the camera, sent jolts through the entire community of nest-cam watchers who’d come to know these young Peregrines and their hard-working parents. We connected — deeply. And then we lost. That loss is palpable when you come to know these living entities — even if that loss occurs well beyond arm’s reach.

It’s a phenomenon Hugh and I personally experience through our wildlife work. Even though there’s not one wild animal that will (or should) bond with us, that will become a pet, that will look at us as anything but a predator at worst — or tolerable caretaker at best — we do still bond. It’s not because of the purrs, cuddles or wagging tails that come our way. Rather, there is a bonding empathy you develop by being a small part of their survival in this crazy world. I wrote a bit about that, too, in the same post on the Peregrines.

That’s precisely why the nest-cam experience was so emotionally trying last year. I (along with many others) tuned in everyday to check the progress of the youngsters. And, in joining the corresponding discussion group at Yahoo, I followed along with the trepidation of new nest-cam viewers: Where are the parents? When were the nestlings last fed? Can they handle the window washers? It was an Animal Planet series that, unfortunately, did not have a happy ending.

The 2010 Nest Cam — Starting All Over Again

This year, I wasn’t sure if I could tune in again. I put it out of my mind, thinking I’d skip a year after the events of the last. I thought my heart had splintered into too many pieces to evoke those Peregrinish feelings again. But this morning, I got the link: a reminder that the nest-cam was, again, hovering over the lives of Peregrine youngsters, our 2010 brood. I hesitated. I winced. And then I clicked.

In the nest, four fuzzy, downy, white babies. According to the nest diary at the same website, the eggs were laid on St. Patrick’s Day, and these these four hatched on April 8.

Can I get hooked again in the matter of minutes? I don’t know. I did find myself waiting for that auspicious landing on the ledge by mom and dad . . . the dark shape trundling in with food for the babies. And as I write, at this moment, the nest-cam window is sitting open in my Mac Safari browser. I might be a-goner again. I have a sense my life will intertwine with theirs. And come June, when these fledglings take their first swoops off the ledge of the PG&E building, I’ll steel myself, with the hope that in 2010, the Peregrine babies navigate those Financial District tunnels with the acuity and grace of their cliff-dwelling ancestors.

May San Francisco’s golden sun shine for these little ones. Take it Tony:

This Nest-Cam link also takes you to a page where you can donate to the efforts of the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group and their nest cams.

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The Photo: Taken at Wildcare in San Rafael (Marin County). Wildcare is a spectacular Bay Area wildlife rescue. This Peregrine is an unreleasable, injured bird housed in their outdoor aviaries.