Lindsay, one of two peregrine falcons that hatched in early May on UC Berkeley’s bell tower, was found dead today near the campus’s business school, Cal Falcons reports. After learning to fly and hunt over the past several months, Lindsay and her brother, Grinnell Jr., recently left the Campanile to start adult lives elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the survival rate for young raptors from birth to age 1 is around 50%.
“During their first year of life, they need to learn to hunt, defend themselves and navigate through a dangerous world,” said Sean Peterson, an environmental researcher with Cal Falcons.
The fledgling’s body, found by a campus staff member, was taken to the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology earlier today where it was identified as Lindsay by the national Bird Banding Laboratory band on her leg. The band has a unique nine-digit number on it that differentiated the chick from all the other birds banded in North America.
It appears she was attacked by a red-shouldered hawk; there is a hawk nest near where Lindsay was found. Several chicks were raised there this spring that are the same age as Lindsay and Grinnell Jr., the falcon fledglings raised by Annie, Berkeley’s longtime mother falcon, and Alden, her relatively new mate.
“It’s not unreasonable (that this is how Lindsay died),” said Mary Malec, a member of Cal Falcons who monitors local raptor nests for the East Bay Regional Park District and who confirmed that the body was Lindsay’s. “If she got too close, the hawks might have gotten defensive and injured her purposefully.”
Malec said Lindsay’s body showed signs that the young raptor had been dead “for a matter of a couple weeks.” Grinnell Jr. was the first to leave the tower for good, at the end of July, said Peterson.
The past academic year was dramatic for Berkeley’s falcon family and their enormous fan base, with both tragedies and triumphs. Grinnell, Annie’s longtime mate, was seriously wounded last year, then recovered after hospitalization only to be found dead in downtown Berkeley in late March. The eggs Annie laid prior to his death wouldn’t have hatched without the sudden arrival of Alden, who helped her incubate them, hunted for her meals and shared duties raising Lindsay and Grinnell.
Lindsay was named for Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek, where Grinnell was taken last fall for rehabilitation after being found injured by rival falcons atop a trash can at the Berkeley Tennis Club.
“It’s always going to be hard to lose a falcon, especially in a year where we’ve already lost so much,” said Peterson. Added Malec, “It’s been a hard year.”
Peterson said he thinks some of the peregrine falcons’ drama was coincidence, but that some of it could be due “to the successful recovery of the species in the Bay Area and the resulting increased competition” for mates and territory.
After hearing the news about Lindsay, Peterson said he was taking solace in that at least two of Annie and Grinnell’s 15 offspring — they began raising a family in 2017; one of their young, Luz, died in 2017 while fledging — are flying about in the world. Sequoia, born in 2020, has been sighted in San Jose, and Lawrencium, or Larry, born in 2018, is on Alcatraz Island.
“We know what the statistics are, and we always hope for better than average. We want them to survive,” said Malec. “We can’t control what happens in nature. We can only make our environment as safe for the falcons and protect the birds in any way we can.”
“That’s all we can do,” she said. “And to enjoy them when we see them.”