Grinnell, the male peregrine falcon in the pair who have resided atop the UC Berkeley Campanile (clock tower) for the last five years, was wounded in a skirmish with two rival falcons, and was found southeast of campus on Friday suffering from these injuries.
As Berkeleyside reports, the fight was with a male and a female falcon who are not likely any of the 12 surviving offspring that Grinnell and his mate Annie have given birth to since 2017. The male who attacked Grinnell was not banded, and therefore not one of the tracked offspring from this nest, and the female, who was not as clearly observed, appeared to be smaller than any of the pair's female offspring.
Grinnell is likely to make a recovery and seems "alert," and he's being treated at Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in Walnut Creek. As Berkeleyside tells us via the vets treating him, Grinnell "did not suffer broken bones, but the tip of his upper beak is broken," and "He also has a wound on his head and on his right foot and left wing, is missing feathers under his chin, and suffered abrasions."
Annie was likely present for the skirmish with the other falcons, but she was not seen in the vicinity. It's now an open question whether Annie will be able to defend the falcons' territory on her own, until Grinnell's eventual return.
As Mary Malec, a member of Cal Falcons who monitors local falcon nests for the East Bay Regional Park District, tells Berkeleyside, "It is possible that the new pair is trying to take over the territory. In other territories, sometimes the fight ends with one skirmish, and sometimes the fights last over many days."
Malec adds that these fights often end in serious injury, and, "I would say that Annie is in danger." Annie was already reportedly "interacting" with one of the rival falcons this morning from atop the clock tower.
While falcons mate for life, Annie may believe that Grinnell is dead and she could potentially take up with a new mate very soon.
Annie and Grinnell hatched three lively chicks in the last mating season, back in May 2021. One of them was named by public vote after Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the other two were named Kaknu, and Wek’-Wek’, after local Native American traditions. In total they have 13 offspring since 2017, but one died that first year after flying into a window on campus.
Wek'-wek and Fauci on the balcony this morning. pic.twitter.com/1qyOyC7HnK— CalFalconCam (@CalFalconCam) June 3, 2021
And this is now the only active falcon nest cam in the local area after the sale of the PG&E headquarters building in downtown SF, and the shutdown of that live cam two weeks ago.
This year, the falcon pair that nest atop that building on Beale Street, Val and Canyon, gave birth to four healthy chicks.
Writing on the Cal Falcons message board for falcon watchers today, Malec said of the latest territory war in Berkeley, "This is not easy to talk about, and not at all easy to report to Annie and Grinnell’s fans."
But this is just nature taking its course, and the very fact that there is a likely territory war happening among rivals is a positive thing for the raptor population.
"Considering that the species was almost lost from the U.S. not all that long ago, the fact that we not only have Annie and Grinnell nesting in Cal’s backyard, but that they have competition, really speaks to the comeback the species has made," Malec says.