3 peregrine falcon chicks hatch on upper balcony of Campanile

Mary Malec/Courtesy

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After much anticipation with a citywide social media following, three peregrine falcon chicks hatched — two Saturday and one Sunday — in a nest box on the upper balcony of the Campanile.

Of the four eggs that were laid, one was broken. All three falcon chicks — already almost twice the size of when they hatched — are active and expected to survive, according to Institute for Bird Populations staff biologist Lynn Schofield. They are being monitored by three cameras situated around the nest box, and these cameras also have the capability to livestream feeds of the birds to the public.

Campus graduate student Sean Peterson, who helps run the social media pages for the peregrine falcons, said in an email that the mother falcon, Annie, currently spends her time feeding and taking care of the babies, since they are still small and need to be kept warm, while the father falcon, Grinnell, hunts.

“The Campanile is one of the best protected nest sites for a Peregrine,” Peterson said in the email. “There’s almost no danger from predators and there’s tons of food around for the chicks.”

Peregrine falcons typically fledge, or develop flight wings, in 35 to 40 days after hatching and will have “two dangerous portions” of their lives afterward, according to Schofield.

These episodes are the time of their first few flights and when they eventually leave their home territory and parents in the fall, as they will have to learn to hunt and survive on their own.

“Urban nesting raptors can hit buildings or windows, can land on the ground and be at risk from vehicles, raccoons, skunks, dog, cats,” said East Bay Regional Park District volunteer raptor coordinator Mary Malec in an email. “In past years we have had a team of people on the ground at fledgetime to assist any downed babies as needed and hope to be able to do that again this year, depending on shelter-in-place restrictions.”

Peregrines were removed from the endangered species list in 1999 and their population is increasing, according to Malec.

Still classified as a protected species, these three juvenile peregrines are scheduled to undergo “banding” May 11 or May 12, when a federal band will be placed on one leg and a visual identification band will be placed on the other, Malec said in an email.

She added that the band numbers will be registered with the federal Bird Banding Laboratory and provide scientists with information on survival rates, dispersal and longevity. The Cal Falcons website tracks the locations of the offspring of Annie and Grinnell through these bands.

“The species has recovered so well since they were listed as endangered and it’s really amazing to see them come back from the very brink,” Peterson said in an email. “They’ve adapted very well to city life.”

The babies will be named through a community naming contest in the first or second week of May.

Contact Skylar Schoemig at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sschoemig_dc.