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UC Berkeley falcons Annie and Archie welcome four eggs to their nest

Cal Falcons warns drones to stay away from the tower, a sensitive wildlife habitat.

By Gretchen Kell

Four speckled, rust-colored eggs sit atop the UC Berkeley falcons' gravel nest atop the Campanile. They are very close together, with two of the eggs touching.

If each of these new eggs hatches next month, it will be a first, as only three of Annie's typical clutch of four eggs hatches. This is the eighth breeding season for Annie, who arrived on campus in late 2016.

Cal Falcons for UC Berkeley

It’s spring again on UC Berkeley’s Campanile, where peregrine falcons Annie and Archie are tending to four new speckled, rust-colored eggs. This year's eggs — Annie has raised young on the tower each year since 2016 — arrived about two days and four hours apart. 

Cal Falcons scientists say hatching is expected April 23 or 24. Until then, Annie’s new mate, Archie, who replaced his predecessor, Lou, in early January, will do most of the hunting for Annie and eventually for the chicks. 

Archie appears adept at caring for a growing family of falcons. He hunts for Annie's meals  and stores his finds in a larder. He’s even been viewed “enfluffeling” — a very unscientific term for the motions a bird makes while settling its body on top of eggs to incubate them — via one of the tower webcams.

“We don’t know Archie’s history and have kind of assumed he’s a new dad, because it’s not super-common for an experienced bird to move into a new territory,” said Sean Peterson, an ecologist with Cal Falcons. “However, Archie has picked up his duties very quickly and with little hesitation. It’s possible he’s done this before!”

Falcons Annie and Archie stand close together on their gravel nest on the Campanile and both look at their four new speckled, rust-colored eggs.

Annie, left, and her new mate Archie, who replaced Annie's most recent mate, Lou, in early January, check on their four eggs. Annie will be the primary parent to incubate the eggs, while Archie will take over hunting for their daily meals. 

Cal Falcons for UC Berkeley

Archie is more confident about incubating eggs than Alden, Annie’s mate until November 2022, Peterson added, but not quite as enthusiastic as Lou, “who Annie often had to cajole off the eggs.” 

Annie typically lays four eggs but has never hatched more than three chicks a year. Hatch Day 2024 will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 24, at an all-day party at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, with falcon experts there to answer questions and free stickers for visitors.

Banding of the chicks, and a naming contest for them, will be scheduled after the eggs hatch, as will the likely time the chicks will fledge. Young male peregrine falcons generally fledge — acquire the feathers necessary for flight and eventually leave the nest — before females. 

Meanwhile, on Alcatraz Island, Annie’s offspring Lawrencium (Larry) also has produced four eggs this month — about two weeks before her mother. “We should hopefully be getting news from the National Park Service about chicks at that site in a couple weeks,” said Peterson. “Avian flu has been continuing to circulate, so hopefully all the falcons will stay safe and healthy.”

Archie the falcon sits on the gravel nest atop the Campanile with the four speckled, rust-colored eggs that Annie has laid next to his feet. He is looking away from the webcam and has a deep yellow-orange beak, eye sockets and feet.

New dad Archie sits next to the eggs, which are expected to hatch either April 23 or 24.

Cal Falcons for UC Berkeley

Unfortunately, another danger is present — and very close to Annie and Archie’s nest. A couple of drones have flown around the bell tower already this year, and some have gotten “exceptionally close,” said Peterson. 

“The Campanile is a very enticing target for a lot of drone pilots,” he said. “It’s an incredibly iconic structure, with amazing views of the Bay Area. But it is also sensitive wildlife habitat, and drones have injured or killed adult birds or caused nest abandonment in the past at other nest sites. 

"The last thing anyone wants is to lose this nest site due to someone flying too close with a drone. We try to keep people informed as best we can about campus policy on drones, as well as about rules about approaching and harassing wildlife.” 

Berkeley’s policy states that unauthorized drone flights on the main campus are banned, and that those who violate federal law, the UC policy or the Berkeley policy pertaining to drones will be subject to disciplinary action. 

Members of the community should contact UCPD to report violations in a timely manner.

NOTE: There will be an authorized drone flight on campus this morning (Monday, March 25), but it will not be near the Campanile, and the drone should not be bothersome to the nesting birds. Monitors will be on campus, however, and the flight will stop if the falcons react to it. 

In addition to three webcams on the tower, falcon fans can follow Annie and Archie’s daily lives via Cal Falcon’s Instagram, Facebook and X accounts.