The last three offspring of Annie with her falcon mate of five years Grinnell look to have been successfully incubated, despite concerns they might not be following Grinnell's untimely death in late March.
It's hatching season once more atop the UC Berkeley Campanile, and falcon-watchers across the Bay are rejoicing at the news that one chick has already hatched as of Thursday morning. Annie laid a total of three eggs after breeding with Grinnell in March, the last of which she laid days after he was hit by a car in downtown Berkeley.
Very quickly, and much to the soap-opera gasps of those following the drama, Annie took up with a new young male, who has now been given the name Alden. (The bird is named for Alden Miller, a former director of the campus's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and Grinnell was the namesake of the founding director of that museum, Joseph Grinnell. Annie is named for Annie Montague Alexander, the benefactor and founder of the museum.)
Alden has turned out to be a loyal and helpful mate, almost immediately jumping into the role of stepdad and helping Annie incubate her clutch of eggs. And we can only hope that this won't all end in Shakespearean tragedy like in the case of the San Francisco falcon cam nest, atop the PG&E Building, in 2020. That year, the female of the nest Val, had initially mated with an older male named Dan, and laid several eggs. Dan was run out of the nest by a younger male, Canyon, with whom Val had another couple of eggs. Only one of this clutch of five eggs ended up being viable and hatching, only to be killed by Canyon who saw the hatchling as prey.
Thankfully, that didn't happen the next season, when Canyon and Val successfully hatched four chicks in 2021. This was before PG&E sunsetted the falcon cam last fall — so we don't even know if the SF pair has a new brood this year or not.
Alden's help, and Annie's experienced motherhood, have brought the three eggs that Grinnell fathered to term, and the first pip — the first whole a chick pecks in an eggshell to breathe fresh air — appeared around 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning, followed by hatching sometime before noon.
Pip Pip Hooray! We have our first pip sighting as the chicks are starting to hatch. The pip is the first hole in the egg made by the chick, allowing it to breath outside air for the first time. From pipping to fully hatching takes ~24 hours. pic.twitter.com/KGo4RAdHtC— CalFalconCam (@CalFalconCam) May 5, 2022
Look at that face!! pic.twitter.com/37g9ArudVj— Piping Plover 🐤🐰🐻🇺🇦 🇺🇲 (@cal_alumna) May 5, 2022
So cute! The next two hatchings should hopefully occur over the next couple of days. Meanwhile, Annie and Alden have a new mouth to feed.
This is Annie's 13th successful offspring with former mate Grinnell, with two more on the way. The pair successfully hatched broods together going back to 2017, including three chicks that fully fledged in 2021 — named Fauci, Kaknu (the Ohlone word for falcon) and Wek’-Wek’ (the Miwok word for falcon).
See photos of the new chick and the live feed below.
Grinnell and Annie nearly never made it to breeding this season — twice! First, Grinnell suffered injuries in a fight with two interloping falcons in late October, leading to his needing treatment that lasted weeks and kept him away from the nest with Annie. In the meantime, Annie exhibited courting behavior with another male, but once Grinnell was back, they seemed quickly bonded again.
Then Annie abruptly disappeared from the nest for a week in February, which veteran peregrine watchers say does not happen unless the falcon is injured or dead. So they wrote her off for dead, but then she returned as suddenly as she left, and mating season began in earnest. Grinnell was then found dead in late March, shortly after Annie had laid her second egg. Fast forward to early May, and Annie is hatching a new brood right on schedule, just with a new mate.
Here's hoping these three make it to fledglings.
In related news, there are two new hatchlings today in another Bay Area peregrine falcon nest being monitored by cameras, the one atop San Jose City Hall — which is part of the same project of the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group that monitored the former PG&E cameras in SF. See those little guys in the live feed below.