Peregrine falcon chicks take flight from Campanile for 1st time

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UC Berkeley’s peregrine falcon chicks, who have been watched via livestream since their hatching by faculty and students, left their nest and took flight for the first time this week.

The young falcons, Carson and Cade, both left their nest at the Campanile on Wednesday. According to Sean Peterson, a graduate student at UC Berkeley’s department of environmental science, policy and management who is involved in the care of the falcons, after they both left the nest, Carson was the first to take flight on the evening of June 5. Cade, Peterson said, took flight the next day.

“Because Falcons are aerial predators, there’s a steep learning curve with catching their own prey, so Annie and Grinnell, the parents, will continue to feed them for the next month or so as Carson and Cade learn to hunt for themselves,” Peterson said in an email. “So far, it looks like the two chicks are developing their flight skills very well.”

The falcon chicks hatched in April, and their hatching was broadcasted on a livestream, which viewers can still watch today. The Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive screened their hatching, which was set on April 25. The falcon eggs were incubated by the campus’s own falcons, Annie and Grinnell.

According to Peterson, Carson and Cade’s healthy growth and recent flights are encouraging, especially considering their historically low breeding population in California.

“Peregrine Falcons are an apex avian predator. They are important for top-down control of populations. Having predators in an ecosystem is an important sign that you have a healthy ecosystem to support them,” Peterson said in an email. “Annie and Grinnell have raised three successful broods so far, which really demonstrates that the urban ecosystem around Berkeley is quite healthy and capable of supporting these falcons.”

Peregrine falcons were once endangered because of the use of DDT,  an insecticide that weakened the shells of peregrine eggs.

Peterson expressed eagerness at witnessing Carson and Cole’s thriving after the previous endangered status of the falcons.

“At their low point, there were only two known breeding pairs in California, so it’s been really encouraging to see them bounce back like they have,” Peterson said in an email.

Ben Klein is an assistant news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @BenKlein_dc.