UC Berkeley’s favorite peregrine falcon, Annie, has laid four more eggs in the Campanile this month.
This year, Annie laid her first egg of the season March 3, with egg two laid March 6, egg three March 8 and egg four March 11, according to Cal Falcons scientist Mary Malec. Peregrines typically lay four eggs approximately 50 hours apart, and there tends to be a slightly longer gap between the final two eggs, Malec noted.
Annie’s partner Lou has proven himself to be a dedicated partner this past mating season, as he frequently incubates the eggs himself to give Annie time to eat and rest, Malec noted. During the storm this past spring, both Lou and Annie continued to demonstrate their commitment to their eggs.
“Annie sat through winds of 50 to 70 (miles per hour) and heavy rains without leaving for 16 hours straight,” Malec said in an email.
Falcons are able to sense nearing changes in barometric pressure, so Lou knew to find a place to stay out of the rain for the next few days before returning back to Annie dry and with breakfast, according to Malec. Malec noted falcons are able to sustain themselves for a few days in between meals, adding that they typically store reserve prey in nearby crevices if they are unable to catch fresh food.
Annie and Lou’s blossoming relationship has become increasingly popular amongst the Berkeley community. Considering the eggs are expected to hatch April 10 or 11, Cal Falcons will host a hatch party in April at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive to display the new chicks on the museum’s outdoor screen and host a panel to answer questions.
“We will have a naming contest after the chicks are banded,” Malec said in the email. “Banding will take place when they are approximately 25 days old. Their legs will be fully grown by then and they will have 2 bands placed, one federal USGS band and one VID (visual ID) band that can be read with binoculars or scope.”
Cal Falcons is a group on campus dedicated to protecting peregrine falcons following the near extinction of the species in the 1970s. It monitors the activity and patterns of all peregrine falcons living in the Campanile. Annie was first spotted nesting in the Campanile in late 2016 and has been there ever since. Considering she isn’t banded, Cal Falcons is unaware of Annie’s exact age, but have kept watch over the beloved bird and the 15 chicks she has raised since 2017.
Malec has been with Cal Falcons from the program’s start and has been watching over Annie since the bird’s arrival to Berkeley’s campus. She is also a volunteer nest monitor with the East Bay Regional Park District, as well as a volunteer hawkwatcher and bander at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory.
Alongside fellow volunteer Doug Bell, Malec was the first to perform a proper nest modification for Annie under Berkeley regulations. The two added a temporary nest box with two old eggs from a previous clutch that year to Annie’s current nest, allowing for proper monitoring and egg safety.
“Her nest is in a nest box on the west side upper balcony (the level above the Carillon Level),” Malec said in the email. “We put in a permanent nest box in early 2018. The box has 4 inches of pea gravel, sides, back and a roof over most of the box. We change out the gravel every 3 years or so and we clean the nest level in the fall of each year, picking up old prey remains and making any repairs needed to cables, lights, (and) drains.”