Peregrine falcon lovers across the Bay Area are having a very exciting April so far, with chicks hatching at two iconic nests this month: Alcatraz Island and UC Berkeley’s Campanile Tower. Here’s everything you need to know about the hatchlings.
Peregrine falcons are apex predators on the island and can dive at speeds of up to 200 mph, making them one of the fastest-known birds in the world.
These powerful birds nearly went extinct during the mid-20th century due to the use of pesticides like DDT. Thanks to significant species recovery efforts and an Environmental Protection Agency ban on DDT, the species has survived and was removed from the endangered species list in 1999.
The National Park Service recently announced that a pair of nesting Peregrine falcons on Alcatraz Island have successfully hatched four chicks.
The exciting news came from park biologists who captured the hatching in early April using remote monitoring.
This comes after a month-long incubation period that took place during notably stormy weather. The female falcon, known as Lawrencium, was born in a nest on UC Berkeley’s Campanile clock tower.
She and her mate were first spotted nesting on the island in 2019 and hatched their first chicks in 2020, marking the first time peregrine falcons have done so on the island in recorded history. They have consistently hatched two to three chicks each season since 2020.
“The efforts to monitor nesting peregrines on Alcatraz are very exciting,” Teresa Ely, senior program manager at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, said in a statement. “Their local population has rebounded, and it’s amazing to see these birds thrive in habitats that act as sanctuaries amongst urban landscapes.”
The peregrine nest is located on a part of the island inaccessible to visitors but with a careful eye, eggs are often visible from the right vantage point. You can learn more about the peregrine nest on the NPS website.
UC Berkeley Campanile
As of publication, two of UC Berkeley’s four peregrine falcon eggs have hatched, with the remaining two expected to hatch in the coming hours. Cal Falcons hosted a big Hatch Day Celebration earlier this week to celebrate the momentous occasion, as reported by SFist.
This is female falcon Annie’s seventh clutch of eggs in the Campanile nest, but the first with her current mate Lou.
Since 2016, Annie usually produced four eggs per year but has never successfully hatched all four, to the puzzlement of local biologists.
“It’s a little strange that she’s never had all her eggs hatch before,” Cal Falcons biologist Sean Peterson told Berkleyside. “It could just be random chance, or it could be some characteristic unique to Annie. It’s really hard to say.”
Until then, we’ll just have to watch and wait.