Campus news

Meet the falcons: Aurora, Eclipse, Nox and Sol

A contest open to the public to name UC Berkeley's four falcon chicks has ended in a landslide.

Annie (left) feeds Eclipse, Aurora (back left) and Sol touch beaks, and Knox, fed, is in the front.
Annie (left) feeds Eclipse, Aurora (back left) and Sol touch beaks, and Nox, fed, is in the front.

Courtesy of Cal Falcons

The votes are in, and UC Berkeley’s newest peregrine falcons now have names: Aurora, Eclipse, Equinox (Nox) and Solstice (Sol).

“The Earth Day birthday names were a runaway hit,” said Sean Peterson, an ecologist with Cal Falcons, which ran the naming contest. Of the 3,896 votes cast by the public, 49% were for this set of names.

He added that other recent natural events, including the solar eclipse and the auroras visible across parts of the U.S., inspired the winning suggestions.

Three of the chicks — offspring of parents Annie and Archie — arrived on Earth Day, April 22. The fourth chick hatched on April 24. They received ID bands and pieces of colorful electrical tape on their legs, to distinguish them from each other, on May 15.

Peterson said the name Aurora was given to the female chick with the band that’s green, “like green auroras,” while her sister was named Solstice (Sol), because of her yellow band, since the word sol “is Spanish for sun, which evokes yellow.”

The male chick with no colored tape, just his silver ID band, got the name Eclipse, and his brother, with a blue band on his leg, is Equinox (Nox). The word nox means night in Latin, said Peterson, and blue is often a nighttime color.

Pie chart titled 'Cal Falcons 2024 Final Naming Vote'. The chart has four sections:

Blue section labeled 'Ramona, Henry, Beezus, and Ralph' with 920 votes (24%).
Red section labeled 'Pam the Funkstress, Lucky, Tyranta, Sunny' with 407 votes (10%).
Yellow section labeled 'Aurora, Eclipse, Solstice (Sol), and Equinox (Nox)' with 1898 votes (49%).
Green section labeled 'Alder, Madrone, Aster, and Myrtle' with 671 votes (17%).
Cal Falcons created a pie chart to show how the voting ended yesterday in the contest to name the campus’s new falcon chicks.

Courtesy of Cal Falcons

Peterson added that Nox undoubtedly is the youngest chick, “with two days’ less feather development, so he’s currently fluffier than his siblings.”

The new names now live on the Cal Falcons’ website, along with those of the 17 other chicks produced by Annie and various mates. The long list also includes the birds’ ID numbers, the color of the tape on their legs and their current whereabouts, if known.

In second place in the naming contest, with 24% of the vote, was the set of four names of characters in Beverly Cleary’s books for young people — Beezus, Ramona, Henry and Ralph.

Peterson says he just can’t shake one of the names proposed during the contest by kids through a partnership between Cal Falcons and Berkeley Public Library — Pam the Funkstress, who was an East Bay DJ.

“I never knew how much I wanted to have a falcon named Pam the Funkstress,” he said, until librarians there chose the name as a finalist along with Lucky, Tyranta and Sunny.

The four new falcon chicks on the Campanile explore outside of their nest box.
As the chicks head toward their first flights during the first week of June, they’re exploring outside of their nest box and attempting to self-feed. From left are Aurora, Sol, Eclipse and Nox, behind the light.

Courtesy of Cal Falcons

Two major behaviors are being displayed by the chicks as they head toward their first flights: They’re exploring, playing and learning outside of their nest box, and they’re attempting to self-feed.

“They’re starting to grab food from Annie,” said Peterson. “Annie, however, still likes to baby them and typically will try to make sure they don’t take food away from her.”

The first week of June, look for Eclipse, the oldest male, to be the first to fly. Females typically fly two to three days after males, so Nox and his two sisters might be on a similar schedule, flying a few days after Eclipse, said Peterson.

“We’ll see, though,” he added. “So much of fledge timing is dependent on the personalities of the chicks, They’ll go when they’re ready.”