Peregrine proof

The peregrine falcon recovery is a case study in successful conservation work, said Glenn Stewart, former director of SCPBRG, a group formed in 1975 when only two breeding pairs of the birds were known in California.

Glenn Stewart's Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG) shepherded peregrine falcon recovery efforts from almost uncountably low populations in the '70s to removal from the federal list of endangered species in 1999 and—now—more than 50 breeding pairs in the Bay Area alone.

A network of conservation biologists and raptor enthusiasts boosted falcon numbers by collecting and hatching thin-shelled wild eggs, then pioneering methods for captive breeding and releasing the young. Nest cameras brought the population recovery story to a public audience, including that of "Clara," who raised four generations, and counting, on San Jose City Hall.

Unlike the 10,000 kilometer migrations of Arctic populations, Stewart's studies showed that Central California peregrines stick around. They follow the food, he said, nesting anywhere from Mt. Diablo to the smokestacks in Moss Landing.

Now retired from the SCPBRG, Stewart continues his research—and bands 3-week olds each spring. And, as a Rachel Carson College lecturer, he passes on the peregrines' success story. "We figured out how to cover the Earth with peregrines again," said Stewart." They are proof that conservation works."