‘The fascinating choreography of a falcon’: UC Berkeley launches crowdfunding effort to install webcams filming Campanile’s peregrine falcons

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The family of peregrine falcons living on the Campanile may soon star in a live webcam now that UC Berkeley has launched a crowdfunding effort to install cameras filming them.

The webcam project group hopes to raise $10,141 to install cameras and cover maintenance costs, according to the crowdfunding website. The 24/7 live webcams, filming three sides of the Campanile’s balcony, would provide a full view of the nests and behaviors of the falcons.

A pair of peregrine falcons nested on top of the Campanile in 2017 and have since hatched two clutches of chicks. Wildlife biologist Peter Sharpe said biologists have been watching the falcons’ nest from the ground but want to get a better view of the nest.

“(Webcams allow us to) see how the birds behave through the fascinating choreography of a falcon breeding season: from courtship to copulation, from egg-laying to hatching, from chick to fledgling,” said Allen Fish, director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, in an email. “The sheer speed of development of raptors, from egg to downy chick to macho flying falcon, is breath-taking.”

This spring, the peregrine falcons hatched their second clutch of chicks — named Berkelium, Californium and Lawrencium. Campus environmental science, policy and management graduate student Sean Peterson, who started working with the falcons in early 2017, said the three chicks have reached independence, enduring the most dangerous phase of their lives.

Volunteers at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory were tracking and banding raptors in the Marin Headlands on Aug. 27. They trapped a young female peregrine falcon, who already had a band on her leg. The bird turned out to be Lawrencium, found exactly 100 days after she was banded in May, according to Fish.

She was feisty and heavier in weight than she had been in May — both great signs of her health and hunting prowess,” Fish said in an email. “No postcards or texts from the two male chicks yet.”

Peterson said his team was “totally blown away” that Lawrencium was one of the birds caught this year. Peterson added that people on campus get really excited about seeing nature, and the webcams will help engage the community.

Campus sophomore Kat Blesie said the webcams are a great idea, adding that peregrine falcons are at risk and are “basically dinosaurs,” according to her biology teacher.

Webcams are a magnificent window to allow anyone with a computer or an iPhone to have an intimate view of these rare birds,” Fish said in an email. “There’s something wonderful about having a university community with a great range of interests all appreciating the same Peregrine nest.”

Contact Bella An at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @BellaAn_dc.