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January 24, 2005

Oracle grant funds UCSC bird group's education program

By Tim Stephens

The Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group at UCSC has received a $50,000 grant from Oracle Corporation to support the group's education program.

Photo: Glenn Stewart and falcon

Glenn Stewart is usually accompanied by his tame peregrine falcon, Sophie, when he gives outreach presentations.
Photo: Jim MacKenzie

The grant provides funding to maintain and enhance the Oracle Peregrines Outreach Program, which includes presentations to school and community groups on birds of prey and conservation of endangered species.

"The Oracle grant enables us to continue offering our presentations to school assemblies and other groups. Educating the public about protection of endangered species is an important part of our mission," said Glenn Stewart, program director with the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG).

Stewart gives most of the group's outreach presentations, usually accompanied by his four-year-old tame peregrine falcon, Sophie. The education program has reached thousands of students throughout California.

To schedule presentations, schools and community groups can contact the SCPBRG at falconet@ucsc.edu, or use the online form available on the SCPBRG web site.

"The school visits are a great way to increase students' appreciation for birds of prey and for nature in general, and to stimulate their interest in science and conservation biology," Stewart said.

The Oracle grant will also help the SCPBRG with efforts to recruit and train interns, coordinate volunteers, and maintain its web site.

The SCPBRG was founded at UCSC in 1975 to restore the endangered peregrine falcon population in California, which had been decimated by the pesticide DDT. At the time, only a few nesting pairs of peregrine falcons remained in California (two pairs had been found in a 1970 survey). By 1999, however, the SCPBRG was able to celebrate the removal of the peregrine falcon from the federal endangered species list, and the group received an award from the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in recognition of its "pioneering efforts."

The SCPBRG now applies its expertise to a wide range of bird species and is working toward creative solutions for a variety of wildlife management challenges in the western United States.

"Oracle is excited to continue our partnership with the SCPBRG," said Rosalie Gann, director of Oracle Giving and Oracle Volunteers. "Oracle is dedicated to helping preserve and protect endangered species like the peregrine falcon and is thrilled to aid in the recovery of the falcon population by supporting SCPBRG's efforts, including the monitoring of falcons at our campus."

SCPBRG biologists have been observing peregrine falcons at Oracle's campus in Redwood City since 1999. The company has supported the group's monitoring of falcons on the Oracle campus, as well as outreach efforts to share its work with the public. In spring of 2000, a pair of falcons began using a nest box installed by SCPBRG atop one of the Oracle buildings and nested there for three successive years. A camera in the nest box enabled visitors to the SCPBRG web site to watch the falcons raising their chicks.

Stewart's talks typically include a review of the work of UCSC conservation biologists that helped bring about the recovery of the peregrine falcon population; information about current nesting of peregrine falcons at the Oracle campus and other urban sites; and discussion of the SCPBRG's current work, including satellite tracking of migrating bald eagles and ecological restoration efforts on California's Channel Islands.

An article about Stewart and his school presentations can be found in Currents Online at http://currents.ucsc.edu/04-05/10-11/stewart.asp.


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