News Release

Peregrine falcon chicks born to nesting couple on Alcatraz Island

Peregrine falcon stands next to hatched chicks and unhatched eggs
Peregrine falcons make their nests in shallow depressions, often along cliff edges.

NPS photo

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News Release Date: April 12, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO—After a month-long incubation period marked by unusually stormy weather on Alcatraz Island, a pair of nesting peregrine falcons welcomed to the world four chicks in early April 2023. The hatching, which was captured by remote monitoring of the couple by park biologists, comes after the falcons were first observed breeding on the island in 2019.

The following year a female falcon known as Lawrencium, who was born in a nest on UC Berkeley’s clock tower, began nesting with her mate on Alcatraz marking the first time peregrine falcons have done so on the island in recorded history. The pair have fledged two to three chicks each season since 2020.

“For 2023, four eggs were laid in early March,” said Lidia D’Amico, biologist at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “As an important breeding colony for waterbirds, the National Park Service ensures protections during the nesting season and provides close-up viewing opportunities to visitors of a unique assemblage of colonial waterbirds.”

Although primarily known for its varied history, Alcatraz has long been a sanctuary for birds, who nest there because of the island’s lack of predators. Western gulls, black-crowned night-herons, snowy egrets, and cormorants are among the species that also rear their young on the island. Among this group, peregrines are the apex predators of the island, which means they can occasionally be seen preying on other birds.

“The efforts to monitor nesting peregrines on Alcatraz are very exciting,” said Teresa Ely, senior program manager at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. “Their local population has rebounded, and it’s amazing to see these birds thrive in habitats that act as sanctuaries amongst urban landscapes.”

Visitors can spot bird nests along the island’s western side. From February to September, parts of it are closed to the public to allow nesting. However, with a careful eye, eggs are often visible from the right vantage point. The peregrine nest is located on a part of the island inaccessible to visitors.

NPS biologists will be monitoring the peregrines to learn more about their nesting behavior, phenology, diet and the success of their fledglings.

More information about bird species on Alcatraz is available on our website.

Last updated: April 29, 2024

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