UC Berkeley Campanile peregrine falcons welcome first egg of year

Cal Falcons/Courtesy

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Annie and Grinnell, two beloved peregrine falcons who call UC Berkeley’s Campanile home, laid their first egg Sunday night.

The campus livestream, which was installed following the crowdfunding efforts of several outside environmental organizations, captured footage of Annie laying her first egg about 9:02 p.m. Sunday. This egg marks the beginning of Annie’s clutch — she is predicted to lay a total of three to four eggs in intervals of 48 to 72 hours.

Annie will begin full incubation after she has laid her final egg, said Mary Malec, a volunteer raptor coordinator with the East Bay Regional Park District, in an email. The clutch is expected to hatch 33 to 34 days after the onset of full incubation.

According to David Mindell, a visiting scholar at the campus Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, though the female falcon spends more time incubating, both sexes participate in egg incubation.

Annie and Grinnell have occupied the Campanile since spring 2017, according to Golden Gate Raptor Observatory volunteer Sean Peterson and Institute for Bird Populations staff biologist Lynn Schofield in an email.

“We can expect this pair to remain nesting on the Campanile as long as they are alive,” said Malec in an email. “There have been peregrines perching on the Campanile in winter months frequently in past years, but this is the first pair to nest on campus.”

Peterson and Schofield recalled installing a permanent nest box atop the Campanile in January 2017 to ease the risks involved with nesting on the structure. Though the peregrine falcon species has dramatically recovered since its decimation in the 1970s due to exposure to the insecticide DDT, it still faces particular urban challenges, according to Malec. The reflection of the sky and clouds in windows, for example, mimic the appearance of the open sky and pose a danger to birds, she said.

During their first year of residence in 2017, Annie and Grinnell raised two chicks, Fiat and Lux, before Lux tragically died after hitting a glass-enclosed balcony. In 2018, the pair raised three nestlings — Berkelium, Californium and Lawrencium.

Despite urban hazards, falcons continue to thrive in the Bay Area, given the “plentiful food and great weather year round,” according to Peterson and Schofield. They added that the falcons are an index species — their success reflects the health of the entire ecosystem.

“Functional roles aside, peregrines and other birds are here just sharing the planet with the rest of us and deserve the opportunity,” Mindell said in an email.

Contact Sasha Langholz at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LangholzSasha‏.

A previous version of this article misattributed the quote “Functional roles aside, peregrines and other birds are here just sharing the planet with the rest of us and deserve the opportunity” to Sean Peterson and Lynn Schofield. In fact, it was said by David Mindell.

A previous version of this article misspelled Sean Peterson’s last name.