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UC Berkeley’s Resident Peregrine Falcons Prepare For “Hatch Day”

Peregrine falcon

In 2016, UC Berkeley’s Campanile, a bell tower near the heart of the campus, became the nesting place for a pair of Peregrine Falcons. The falcons, named Annie and Grinnell, quickly garnered attention both from UC Berkeley students and campus locals, as well as birdwatchers and fans from farther afield who enjoyed watching the raptors nest and rear their young via the “Cal Falcons” nest cam. For five years, Grinnell and Annie produced several nests full of hatchlings, with one hatchling even going on to nest on nearby Alcatraz Island.

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Then came the 2022 nesting season. In March of 2022, Annie mysteriously disappeared, leading to the eventual conclusion that she had either died or been driven from her territory. This would prove to be untrue. Annie returned. Disappearing and returning during the breeding season is unusual, but Annie’s return brought sighs of relief to falcon fans everywhere. That is until the end of the month when Grinnell was found deceased, likely due to a collision with a car, in downtown Berkeley. At that time, it was thought that the saga of Annie and Grinnell would end entirely.

The Campanile falcons are nothing if not subversive. As observers speculated that Annie’s eggs would die without Grinnell, a male falcon suddenly came to the rescue. He was initially dubbed, “New Guy,” but a poll officially named him “Alden.” Alden became Annie’s new mate and the pair looked after the 2022 clutch of eggs together.

That brings us to this nesting season. Berkeley’s favorite avian soap opera continues in dramatic fashion with Alden nowhere to be found and Annie incubating a clutch of eggs with a new new guy. Annie and her new mate, named Lou, have produced a clutch of four eggs that are due to hatch any day now.

As fans watch the pair alternate between hunting and incubating the eggs, Cal Falcons and their audience prepare from “Hatch Day” which is expected to be the 11th of April. This large clutch of eggs is a welcome change in pace from the seemingly constant dramatic plot twists that have characterized the story of the Campanile Falcons.

The ongoing saga of the UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcons may be marred by tragedies, like the loss of Grinnell or the death of one of Grinnell and Annie’s first chicks, but the story itself reflects an awe-inspiring story of success and perseverance. Due to the DDT crisis, Peregrine Falcons were once so endangered in the United States that they were on track for extinction. During the height of this crisis, only two pairs of Peregrines were reported within the entire state of California.

The banning of DDT as well as focused conservation efforts have allowed Peregrine Falcons to make such an incredible recovery that by 1999, they were removed from the endangered species list entirely. Annie, the late Grinnell, Alden, Lou, and this clutch of four eggs, are all a testiment to the power and importance of avian conservation. Fiat Lux!

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