Three falcon chicks and 650 name suggestions. Now, that’s a dilemma. But you can help solve it by voting — starting today — for your three favorite names for the fluffy brothers born on the Campanile in April. The contest ends Wednesday at 5 p.m., and the winning names will be announced on Thursday.
“It was a banner year,” said Sean Peterson, an ornithologist and Berkeley Ph.D. candidate who runs the Cal Falcons social media program with biologist Lynn Schofield from the Institue for Bird Populations, of the name submissions that flooded in from the public. “It was really amazing to see.”
“We had suggestions from France, the U.K., Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and Hungary this year,” he added, and a partnership with the Berkeley Public Library helped get the word out to children who submitted falcon baby names.
Cal Falcons fans’ suggestions ran the gamut, from landmark peaks of California, to East Bay parks, to COVID-19 pandemic heroes, to the mythological falcons of California Native American tribes, to the falcon character in My Side of the Mountain. The novel for middle school students by Jean Craighead George centers on a young boy who runs away to the Catskill Mountains and lives in a tree with a falcon and a weasel for companions.
If you find it hard to choose one set of names from the five sets listed below, there’s good news: The rules have changed. Instead of choosing a set of names, you can make up your own set. Just pick your three favorite names.
“So, we could, for example, have a name honoring a park, a vaccine researcher and a mythological falcon from a Native American tribe,” said Peterson. “People will be able to vote for their three favorite names, regardless of category, and the top three vote-getters will win.”
Here are the final suggested names:
California landmark peaks: Whitney, Shasta, Lassen
East Bay parks: Tilden, Sibley, Temescal
COVID-19 heroes: Fauci (Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIAID), Corbett (Kizzmekia Corbett, scientific lead of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center’s coronavirus team who was central to the development of the Moderna vaccine), and Karikó (Katalin Karikó, a Hungarian biologist whose messenger RNA/mRNA work laid the foundation for successful vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna).
Mythological falcons of California Native American tribes: Kaknu (Ohlone), Wek’-wek’ (Miwok), Limik (Yokuts)
Kids’ name proposals: Gray Cloud, Arrow and Frightful (the falcon in My Side of the Mountain)
“Since banding,” said Peterson, “the chicks have started to venture out of the nest box and are starting to explore the top of the tower. It’s getting to be the exciting time of year when they’re running around and playing all day long.”
He added that the brothers “are definitely starting to show their personalities,” with the red-banded chick being the most adventurous so far, followed by the yellow-banded one. The youngest, who has a blue band, prefers to stay in the nest box more than the other two.
“All the chicks have been looking great. We’ve had no worries,” assured Peterson. “They’ve all left the nest at least a couple times already, so they’re doing well.”