This year's brood of three falcon chicks atop the UC Berkeley Campanile have been officially banded, and we know there are two females and one male — the latest in falcon Annie's growing lineage.
As promised, the chicks have grown very quickly, and are nearly full-grown just weeks after emerging from shells nearly featherless and a fraction of their current size. Their fluffy white phase is also nearly over, with darker juvenile feathers and tail feathers emerging — and there is one significantly larger sister of the three, compared to the other two, though she may just have been the first to hatch and has a headstart.
The CalFalons social media channels are posting finalists today in a naming contest on their social media channels. On a Twitter thread from Monday, we can see the name suggestions that flowed in, most of them Cal-related.
For the females we have suggestions including Milicent, to honor Milicent Washburn Shinn, the first woman earn a doctorate (in psychology) at Cal in 1898; Lindsey Jr., in honor of one of last year’s fledglings in this nest who didn't make it; and Nobel laureates associated with UC Berkeley Carolyn Bertozzi (2022) and Jennifer Doudna (2020).
For the lone male, name suggestions include Grinnell Jr., in honor of Annie's mate of five years who died last year; John, for John Galen Howard, the architect of the Campanile tower; and Eric for Nobel laureate Eric Betzig (2014).
On the live feed these days, though the chicks still do a lot of resting in the nest, there is considerably more action going on, with regular feedings and with the largest female already taking exploratory trips onto the balcony around the nest. The chicks were each given numerical leg bands that will help identify in the wild in the future, as well as colored bands that will wear off in time, but which will help distinguish them from each other from afar in the short term.
The largest female has the blue leg band, the other female has the red band, and the male has a yellow band.
The banding process was not without some drama, as Annie hovered over the raptor experts and swooped down to knock her feet on their heads a few times, trying to get them to go away.
"She was a little fiercer today than usual,” said raptor expert Mary Malec, per the Cal website, after the team had finished the job. Malec added, "She recognizes what’s about to happen [with the banding process]; we’re getting familiar to her."
Also, on Monday, the chicks were at attention as mother Annie fended off a visit by a juvenile interloper, later identified as a juvenile banded last year on Mount Diablo. That drama can be seen in the video footage below.
And it's not for for the faint of heart, but if you rewind on the live feed you can see a feeding happening from this morning. The chicks, and parents, have been eating a lot of pigeon lately, and it's a bloody mess. You can also see the remnants of pigeon feathers scattered all around and in the nest box.
We'll update you once there's a link for voting on the falcons' names.
Update: Here's the link to the voting page with the finalist names. Voting will close Thursday evening (May 11) and the winning names will be announced Friday.