A big opportunity…

We are asking for your help on this. All you need to do is to nominate us, “Pacific Coast Peregrine Watch.”

Please follow the instructions below. Ask your friends and anyone you know to do this. We need lots of votes!  We’ll let you know if we make the list.

Thank you for your efforts. Bob and Heather

P.S. If you want to know about where our money goes, check out our “About donating” page. Remember that we are a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit educational organization.

Help Pacific Eye Give $10,000 to Local Non-Profits!

Nominate your favorite non-profit for a chance to recieve up to $5,000 this holiday season.
Pacific Eye is seeking the community’s help in selecting worthy 501(c)(3) organizations to participate in our Pacific Eye Gives Back Challenge this fall.
Designed to highlight the outstanding organizations that make positive change visible on the Central Coast, community members and local non-profit representatives can nominate their charity of choice one of two ways before the submission deadline on September 9:
  • First, nominations are being accepted through Pacific Eye’s Facebook page. Simplyclick on the nomination tab to nominate your favorite Central Coast non-profit organization. Be sure to like our page while you’re at it!

Be sure to check our page for more details, but if you’re not on Facebook, don’t worry, you can also submit a nomination at any of the Pacific Eye offices at your next appointment—just ask for a nomination form from the front desk!

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New guy in town…

Observation date: 17 August 2014

You may remember in previous articles around the solstice a young married couple, both licensed falconers, that had brought a live Great Horned Owl to the Native American festivities on both winter and summer solstices. On Sunday, showed up with a new bird which caught the attention of most everyone including the resident male and female falcons on the south side of Morro Rock.

hybrid peregrine gyrfalcon, Morro Rock, Morro Bay, CA

Carl and Bebot with their 8 year old hybrid peregrine gyrfalcon                               Photo by Heather O’Connor

The bird that you see here is an eight year old hybrid falcon, a cross between a peregrine and a gyrfalcon.

hybrid peregrine gyrfalcon, Morro Rock, Morro Bay, CA

Carl with his hybrid peregrine gyrfalcon                                               Photo by Heather O’Connor

hybrid peregrine gyrfalcon, Morro Rock, Morro Bay, CA

Hybrid peregrine gyrfalcon                                           Photo by Heather O’Connor

From 200 yards the resident female took notice as the falcon’s hood came off. Nothing happened for the first six or seven minutes until the tethered bird bated* from Carl’s fist.

hybrid peregrine gyrfalcon, Morro Rock, Morro Bay, CA

About to bate…                        Photo by Heather O’Connor

Then the resident female vocalized and launched off her perch circling over us and screaming. Descending lower, she landed on a rock 70 yards off and 30 feet above the parking lot.  Now everyone was making noise. The resident tiercel, all this time, is racing across the face of Morro Rock landing here and there for a few seconds.

hybrid peregrine gyrfalcon, Morro Rock, Morro Bay, CA

The south side female perched territorially defensive                                         Photo by Bob Isenberg

Twitterpated would be a good description of him. There were no close calls with the resident birds. However, if the trained falcon were weathered* and a few feet away from human activity, one or both birds could be severely injured.

Happy trails, Bob

Item: We hope to have Carl and Bebot Lea at the winter Bird Festival in January maybe with some feathered livestock.

*bated – beat the wings in an attempt to escape from the perch or gauntlet: The hawks bated when the breeze got in their feathers.

*weathered – To put a bird out into the open air and sometimes sunshine. This is generally done in a weathering yard where she is protected from any other raptors, dogs, or cats, has the opportunity to bathe or drink, and can spread her wings and soak up the sun or pull up her foot in the shade. Her weathering yard is typically watched by the falconer whenever she is there.

A falconry glossary will soon be posted.


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Where has he been… ?

Observation date: 9 August 2014

Our hopes were renewed last night at an Eel Grass Restoration Seminar put on by the Morro Bay National Estuary Program for volunteers which takes place this week in the Morro Bay Estuary. Heather will be part of it. She signed up to wrap bundles of eel grass, but ended up being a boat tender while the SCUBA divers planted  the bundles of eel grass. It gave her time to sketch Morro Rock from a different vantage point after handing off the eel grass.

At this meeting, we met Steve Schubert, biologist/counselor for Camp Keep, who had been leading young young people on sand spit excursions and had seen a falcon several times atop a bush on a high dune. The bird had broken feathers. This was, I believe, the first sighting of  “Homie,” who we haven’t seen in two weeks.

That day riding home on my trike, I see Heather in the midst of pulling weeds is pointing up over our house yelling, “It’s “Dangle Foot!” …aka “Homie” with still the left leg which won’t retract and broken primaries screaming like hell. We were both so thrilled we didn’t get out an iPhone or camera so Heather made a sketch which will suffice.

injured peregrine falcon

Injured peregrine falcon, “Homie”                                            Artwork by Heather O’Connor

I ran into the house and had to write this. Now I’m going back outside to see if he returns.

Happy, trails, Bob

For all you followers who have asked about “Homie.”
“He lives!”

injured peregrine in diving board hole

“Homie” in the “diving board” hole        Photo by Gordon Robb taken with a smartphone and spotting scope

At post time the following day, I called Heather to say, “Homie” was on Morro Rock, the left leg now retracting about two thirds of the way and he was flying well.


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Aquatic bonanza…

Observation date: 1, 2, 3 August 2014

Here in Morro Bay the falcons are playing second fiddle to the aquatic bonanza that has been gathering everyone’s attention for the last few days. Humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, like a frothing cauldron, half a mile long, about a mile or more off shore. With the naked eye the humpbacks may be seen blowing and breaching. Killer whales, in a pack, chasing whatever. For a great view, 20 power binoculars or a scope was the ticket.

Humpback breached and splashed back down

Humpback breached and splashed back down                                 Photo by Mike Baird

As for the falcons, we haven’t seen the young south side chick for five days. The two north side young that spent so much time on the south side have not been seen around the rock for two weeks. However, we have had reports from birders of juvenile sightings around the bay and sand spit.

Pacific Ocean, Morro Bay, CA,

Looking out over the Pacific from our ocean room                                  Photo by Bob Isenberg

Heather and I had a juvie chasing pigeons out our bay window. Both the adult birds are around the rock most of the day, not always in view, but there. Within a few weeks they will be completely gone. Who knows, maybe one will show up in your neck of the woods.

Happy trails, Bob

Because of the hours that Bob spends at the rock, the juveniles may return when he is not there, maybe early morn or late evening.

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Observation date: 18 July 2014

A pleasant visit from two people that share the same passion and do the same thing that I do as volunteer interpreters for The Peregrine Fund through the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group… One of the few eyries that they watch is at the San Jose City Hall. Jon and Laurel Bianchi observe other pairs in and around the Monterey Bay area. They had never visited Morro Rock and were totally amazed at both the rock and what I have in front of me to share with everyone.

visitors to Morro Rock

Bob, Laurel and Jon Bianchi                                                  Photo by Heather O’Connor

“Stepping out of your car and seeing wild unbanded birds is something you find in very few places.” They spent the better part of the day with me, for the first hour seeing nothing all the while I’m explaining the perches and nest sites they have used. When it came to describing the “diving board” eyrie, they had heard of this historic nest site, but then anyone who knows anything about falcons has heard about it.

By one o’clock the juvenile tiercel arrived.

“It’s “Homie,”broken primaries, hanging left foot. Yep, it’s “Homie.”

Forty five minutes later, the adult tiercel landed on the throne, the highest regular perching site on the south side of Morro Rock. Now we have one bird in each scope and have acquired everybody’s attention. I told Jon and Laurel that for the last few days nothing happens until about 3PM. The adult male stayed only about 20 minutes. It’s 2:55PM and my guests are still here. I’m hoping the birds can tell time or I’m going to have to come up with a real good falcon story. At 3:20PM, all heads turn south to hear the unmistakable screaming of a falcon.

I yell, “It’s “Homie” flying out over the bay to meet some one. It’s the adult tiercel incoming, packing a prey item.”

On the second try “Homie” got the mid air food transfer. It seems with a bad foot, he tends to miss on the first try. Laurel got a photo. Jon and I watched with our binoculars. Although we never saw the adult female or the other two chicks, it was never-the-less a great day and there is always tomorrow.

Happy trails, Bob

The next day, I sat with Laurel chatting about how they got into this work. Laurel told me that she had been at Village Elementary School in the 4th grade and was asked to chose a research project. She was curious about falcons and with the help of her teacher, Sherry Stack, she made lots of fine connections with people such as Glenn Stewart at the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG). It seemed her excitement was contagious and soon the whole family became interested in Laurel’s project.

She and her father are a part of a avid group who call themselves “falconatics” who monitor the San Jose City Hall falcons around town and by sitting on top of the 4th Street parking garage taking down the details of the peregrine activities. They are linked to other falcon watchers with radios/walkie talkies to keep track of the falcons.

From February to July, they go out on weekends to observe the falcons in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  During incubation, they aim to make the trip every other day to zero in on the hatch date. Eventually they are doing a “fledge watch” and have a party having recognized another successful season of the peregrine watch for SCPBRG. Lots of data has been collected and the value is inestimable. Numerous researchers use this data.

visitors to Morro Rock

Bob and Laurel observing “Homie”                                                  Photo by Heather O’Connor

Laurel’s father, Jon, has been excited about this type of work for years and has taken school children out of field trips to learn about the great out of doors. Both Bob and I could see the passion in the eyes of Jon and his daughter, Laurel, who has been doing this for 6 years. We are so glad that they came to visit us at Morro Rock.

Peace, Heather

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Hardships overcome…

Observation date: 11 July 2014

My last couple of entries have mentioned injuries concerning the adults eyes. For the last few days while observing juveniles, the resident south side chick referred to as “Homie” had been favoring his left leg. I thought it might be just a typical pose standing on one leg as they often do, but when he went to put it down it did not touch the rock and the talons were partially closed like a loose fist. Later that day after observing him fly, the leg would hang down and not retract into normal flying position. In the photo below, look carefully for the lowered leg hanging down.


peregrine with injured leg

Injured juvenile with hanging leg                                                     Photo by Bob Isenberg

I, also, noticed he had two broken primary feathers, one on either wing. Today he flew out to meet the tiercel who was returning with prey over the parking lot. The tiercel dropped the prey to the chick which he failed to catch. The tiercel caught it in mid-air and swooped up and gave him a second chance. The juvenile caught the prey on the second time and returned to the rock to dine.

These birds are active for 12 to 14 hours a day; I spend five to six hours a day so there is a lot I don’t observe. As to what has happen to this youngster is anyone’s guess.

Happy trails, Bob

Item: “Stumpy” is a White-crowned Sparrow whose left foot fell off three years ago. She will sit on my chair or hand and has raised a clutch of chicks every year. I know that because she fills her beak with cookie crumbs and flies off to feed her young across the parking lot in the brush above the willows.

"Stumpy" showing her left footless leg   Photo by Bob Isenberg

“Stumpy” on Bob’s chair showing her footless left leg                                             Photo by Gordon Robb

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Something worthwhile…

peregrine, Morro Bay, CA, chicks

Peregrine chick

We are creating a scholarship fund for college students in ornithology. Our first effort is to give you the option of choosing our organization when you visit and make purchases from Amazon.  We will receive .05% of your purchase price from  Amazon Smile. It sounds like a tiny bit, but many of you doing this will give students the benefit of helping hand in college.


All you have to do is press the button to the right and select “Pacific Coast Peregrine Watch” from their list.  We have our 501(c)(3) status as an educational nonprofit organization. We would be very grateful if you would choose us when shopping on Amazon.

Happy trails, Bob & Heather

Item: I am working on  getting the button to fit onto our web page a little bit better. Please be patient.  ~Heather


Posted in peregrine | Tagged | 2 Comments