As if they knew it was New Year's Day and almost time to raise another brood of chicks, longtime falcon lovers Annie and Grinnell reunited and were observed on camera performing courtship behavior for the first time since Grinnell's November return to the nest following a fight with a rival.
Annie was showing signs of being open to a new mate back in November, doing the courtship thing with an as-yet unnamed younger male rival. And following Grinnell's return in mid-November, falcon-watchers have been riveted wondering whether the two males would battle it out for Annie's attention and control of the nest atop the UC Berkeley bell tower.
But now, as Berkeleyside reports, all appears right with the world, and Annie and Grinnell were seen doing the head-bowing of courtship on Saturday morning. The video below has since been widely watched on social media.
Annie has also been observed on the nest cam making preparations for her next brood, flattening out the gravel for future egg laying — even though we are still about three months from Annie's usual egg-laying timeframe in early to mid-March. This pair is typically beginning to court in January, and then they begin mating "in earnest" around Valentine's Day, per Berkeleyside.
The younger male rival, meanwhile, hasn't been seen around the Campanile in a couple of weeks.
Grinnell was injured just before Halloween, in a fight with possibly two other falcons — witnesses suggested both a male and a female "floater" might have engaged Grinnell in what seems to have been a battle over territory. The male rival then proceeded to try to supplant Grinnell at the Campanile nest — and observers saw plenty of courting behavior on the falcon cams, leading to concerns that Annie would opt for a new mate and Grinnell would be kicked out of his own home of five-plus years.
Grinnell spent several weeks recovering from his injuries at Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek, but he was returned to campus in mid-November and immediately made his presence known back at the bell tower.
Things might be resolved, for now, but until mating occurs, there is still time for more drama.
"We can’t know for certain [if Annie and Grinnell will stay together], because there’s still plenty of time for the new male [rival] or an entirely different male to come and challenge Grinnell,” said ornithologist Lynn Schofield with Cal Falcons, speaking to Berkeleyside. “Similarly, a new female could arrive [and complicate matters]."
Grinnell and Annie have successfully raised 12 offspring since they first mated and nested atop the Campanile in 2017. These broods included three chicks, now fledged and grown and off on their own, hatched earlier this year.
So, fingers crossed that this mate-for-life pairing is actually for life, and the rivals have gone on their way?