upper waypoint

Peregrine Falcon Soap Opera Unfolds in Berkeley

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

A falcon sits on a ledge overlooking the city of Berkeley, resolute
Grinnell the peregrine falcon struts for the cameras atop UC Berkeley's campanile. (Cal Falcons / Screenshot by @SKPollock)

It’s a tale as old as time. Boy meets girl. Girl has 13 babies. Boy gets attacked. Girl starts flirting with boy’s attacker while boy recuperates in hospital. Entire city of Berkeley waits to see if they’ll get back together.

This is the sordid tale that’s been unfolding in the East Bay for the past three months. Only in this case, the star-crossed lovers aren’t human idiots—they’re peregrine falcons.

The hussy at the center of the love triangle is Annie, who first paired off with boy falcon Grinnell in late 2016. Since, the couple have been doing the most—nesting on UC Berkeley’s Campanile, mating like bunnies, and providing hours of entertainment for local birdwatchers.

Young love, however, is terribly fickle. In October, poor Grinnell was attacked by a rowdy pair of hooligan falcons who left him with injuries to his chin, beak and left wing. He was found afterward languishing on a trash can (the humiliation!) at the Berkeley Tennis Club, and whisked away to Walnut Creek’s Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital to recuperate.

During his three-week absence, Annie and one of Grinnell’s avian attackers started brazenly flirting in front of God and everyone, all over town. They even spent Thanksgiving together! (What must the children think?) This despite the fact that the Lothario in question is a “floater”—ornithologist parlance for homewrecking, non-breeding falcons who are just in it to win a nest. (Get it together, Annie!)


Shortly after Thanksgiving, ornithologist Sean Peterson told Berkeleyside that “[Annie] is definitely interested in the new male, if he’s the one that ends up taking over the territory. Eventually, Grinnell and the new male will probably have a fight of some kind that will determine who the male at the Campanile will be.”

Since his release from the hospital on Nov. 17, Grinnell has been seen hanging out at the Campanile every day, in the spot where he and Annie have nested for the last five years. Despite making himself so embarrassingly available, Grinnell is apparently back in Annie’s good books. On New Year’s Day, Annie came to her damn senses and got back together with him. (New year, new leaf, girl!)

Early in the morning of Jan. 1, the two were caught canoodling on the Campanile balcony, performing head-bowing displays and hanging out like nothing ever happened. Cal Falcon Cam‘s video of the heartwarming reunion has since been viewed over 19,000 times.

The day after this little ritual, Annie was seen prepping her nest by lying on her belly and kicking gravel around. (Whatever floats your boat, birds.) If she and Grinnell do decide to mate for a sixth time, it will likely be in February.

If Grinnell’s got any sense, he’ll start prepping their Valentine’s Day plans now.

Don’t miss an article and video on Annie and Grinnell from KQED’s own Deep Look:

lower waypoint
next waypoint