SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – On top of the 300-foot-tall Campanile Bell Tower at UC Berkeley is the home of a Peregrine Falcon nest. Sadly, one of the parent Falcons was found dead on Thursday next to a road, assumed to have been hit by a car.
Researchers have been working for years to bring the birds back from being an endangered species in California.
The Peregrine Falcons were first discovered nesting at the top of UC Berkley’s bell tower in 2017. Researchers weren’t sure what was going to happen to the nest when they found out one of the falcons was hit by a car.
More than 4,000 people have liked the Cal Falcon’s Facebook page, tuning into the live cam to see what Annie and Grinnell are up to.
The pair producing five sets of Peregrine Falcon chicks since moving into The Campanile.
A Cal Falcons member, Mary Malec says the falcons are, “certainly iconic if not an official mascot.”
In the last year though, things haven’t gone well for the falcons, according to Ornithologist Sean Peterson.
“Saw he was injured last winter and maybe wasn’t going to come back from that injury then made a miraculous recovery and came back and then we thought Annie had disappeared and she was gone and then she came back,” says Peterson.
Online fans and falcon experts on campus weren’t given much time to breathe a sigh of relief.
Before the news came that Grinnell was found dead in the median of a roadway in Berkeley, Cal Falcons member Malec had the difficult task of identifying the bird. “Saw Grinnell’s band, it just sort of broke, it was really really difficult,” she says.
The population of Peregrine Falcons in California hasn’t always thrived.
“Fifty years ago there were two pairs of peregrine falcons in California. That’s it, just four birds total,” Peterson said.
It’s why Thursday’s loss came as such a shock to those who have followed the success of Annie and Grinnell’s offspring.
The birds had been incubating two eggs at their nest, but when one bird dies during the breeding season the most likely outcome is abandonment.
Anyone watching the live falcon cam Thursday afternoon to check on the eggs witnessed this: A new male Peregrine Falcon flying in.
“Being actively courted by Annie and he apparently appears interested in kind of being a stepfather to these eggs,” Peterson told KRON4.
A positive sign and if things continue to go well, Malec says one or two more eggs could be added to the nest.
“We aren’t having a lot of negative feelings from people towards this new guy. He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. He has two jobs. One is to survive and the other is to reproduce,” Malec said.
According to Malec, the number of peregrine falcons in California has improved to around 350 nesting pairs. There are around 50 nests in the Bay Area.