SJ Falcon Chick Dies Days After Hatching

Sadness atop City Hall

By Jessica Greene
|  Tuesday, Apr 20, 2010  |  Updated 12:45 PM PDT
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SJ City Hall Falcon Cam

Clara Esteban with her first egg of the 2010 season.

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Within just a week of hatching, the fourth falcon chick from the newest clutch of famed San Jose falcons Clara and Esteban Colbert has died.

The fourth falcon egg hatched early Wednesday morning and the new falcon joined three other chicks in their nest on a ledge atop San Jose City Hall. However, the youngest chick struggled during its short life and died over the weekend, city spokeswoman Michelle McGurk said. Falcons are wild animals, and in nature, half of young peregrines survive their first year of life, McGurk said.

Glenn Stewart, from the University of California Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, said the cause of the chick's death can't be determined.

"We will never know whether it was some physical malady, lateness of hatch, or just bad luck that had a hand in the outcome for chick No. 4,"  Stewart said. "We do know that not every egg hatches, not every chick  survives, and not every fledgling survives its first flights."

News of the chick's death is drawing sad comments from the the falcons' Facebook fans, like this one from Kathy o'Mara: "Sorry to hear that. Life is a miracle, and so fragile for the newborns."

This is Clara's fourth nesting season at City Hall and her second  with mate Esteban Colbert. The FalconCam, a live streaming video of the falcon's nest on a  City Hall ledge 18 stories above the street, can be viewed on the city's Web site.

The city is holding a contest for kids to name the remaining three chicks. Nominations can be submitted by May 1 to  mayoremail@sanjoseca.gov or by snail mail to: Falcon Naming c/o Mayor's Office, 200  E. Santa Clara St., 18th Floor, San Jose, CA 95113.  Around the second week of May, the nominations will be open for  online voting. The chicks will be named before they take flight.

Bay City News contibuted to this report.

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