The falcon soap opera continues atop the Campanile tower on the UC Berkeley campus, and as we approach nesting season, longtime tower resident Annie has taken on a new male suitor after yet another mate disappeared.

Annie has been long-lived and prolific as a peregrine falcon mother. And assuming she brings more offspring into the world this spring, this will be her eighth brood of chicks in the Campanile nest — which is monitored 24/7 by three cameras.

A new mate entered the picture last year about this time, and after a traditional online naming contest, he was christened Lou, after the real-life partner of Annie's real-life namesake. Annie was named for UC Berkeley zoologist and explorer Annie Alexander, who actually had a same-sex partner, Louise Kellogg, and thus Lou seemed like a more than appropriate name.

Annie's longtime mate of five years, Grinnell, tragically died in 2022 — he was killed by a car, possibly, while hunting in downtown Berkeley. He was quickly replaced by Alden, who mated with Annie and helped her incubate a pair of eggs, which seemed to have been fathered by Grinnell.

Alden himself disappeared in early 2023, and was replaced within days by Lou, and Annie and Lou produced four eggs, three of which successfully hatched by mid-April. Those three chicks, two females and one male, were named via contest Rosa, Luna, and Zephyr — with the first two names chosen by children, and Rosa being named for Rosa Scrivner (1851-1914), the first woman to receive an academic degree from the University of California.

The "New Guy," as the new male falcon is so far being called, first appeared on January 29, as the Cal Falcons group of falcon watchers reported the following day. Once again, the resilient Annie wasted no time in beginning courtship behaviors with New Guy after Lou mysteriously disappeared. The watchers' best guess at this point is that he died of avian flu, which has been especially prevalent this past year.

New Guy has been seen engaging in the head-bowing behavior in the nest with Annie, and the pair should be actively mating over the coming weeks.

"Our typical egg-laying period is in mid-March, so they have plenty of time to get together and have their hormones sync up," said longtime falcon watcher Mary Malec late last month.

As such, the naming contest for New Guy will begin on Wednesday, Valentine's Day. Check the CalFalcons X feed for details, but expect the successful name nominees to be UC Berkeley history-inspired.

Though peregrines have been known to live to age 16 or 17, at age 10, Annie is nearing the possible end of her natural life, and we could be looking at one of her last breeding seasons — but we don't have to go there just yet.

Annie has birthed and raised 18 chicks in the Berkeley nest, much of this on live camera. And the vast majority of those birds have gone on to become adults, though the falcon watchers can't know where all of them have ended up.

We know some have gone to San Jose or established nests in other spots around the bay like Alcatraz — as one of Annie and Grinnell's 2018 offspring, named Lawrencium, did in 2020.