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UC Berkeley’s peregrine falcon parents hatch four eggs

Peregrine falcon Hatch Day celebration at BAMPFA.
Pat McMahon
Peregrine falcon Hatch Day celebration at BAMPFA.

A steady crowd of onlookers gathered at a large projector screen outside of BAMPFA in Berkeley on Wednesday. The screen was livestreaming video of the peregrine falcon nest at the top of Campanile Tower.

Annie, the adult female falcon, laid four eggs earlier this spring. And by Wednesday morning, all but one had hatched. Annie has nested on Cal’s campus since 2016. Her 20-plus offspring includes one falcon, who now makes their home on Alcatraz Island.

Scientists, like Allen Fish, of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, were on hand to answer the public’s burning questions.

“She actually hasn't pulled off of four-egg clutch yet. So if this happens, this will be the - yay! - exciting news for any in 2024 that we've got four eggs in this clutch.”

Among the visitors to the Hatch Day event was a group of 6th graders from the Academy School in Berkeley. Their science teacher brought them over on a field trip.

One student, named Alex, said her class has been keeping up with the livestream.

“Yeah, we have watched it. It was yesterday. We saw that three of them hatched.  And then two days before, we, they were just eggs when we saw them.”

Kim Nielson, a Berkeley resident, says she’s been following the birds for three years. She says she notices traits in Archie, Annie’s current partner, that are different from her previous mates who shared the nest.

“You have to pay, you have to spend time being entranced.  And these days, that's hard to do. There's so much going on. It's really hard to spend a long time entranced. And that's again, maybe, is one of the lessons with watching them.

Around 1:00 p.m., Annie began to fidget in her seat, and gave the audience the first glimpse of a live chick inside egg number four. Mary Malec of Cal Falcons provided a recap.

“Annie moved back and we could see the fourth chick in the bottom part of the shell. So it looks like we’ll actually have the fourth hatch today.”

Forty-five minutes later, she was right!

“There, it’s out. It’s out!”

Now with the hatch complete, the chicks will begin to feed and grow very quickly. The next big stage of development comes in 30 to 40 days, when they begin to fledge – getting ready to fly and leave the nest.

Pat McMahon is a member of the 2024 KALW Audio Academy, an audio producer, sound artist, and radio enthusiast.