A famous peregrine falcon whose nest rests atop the UC Berkeley bell tower appears to have a new beau, according to the group of scientists and volunteers who monitor the birds and share photos and information about them on social media.

The female falcon Annie has lived since 2016 in a nest on the Campanile bell tower, the third-largest bell-and-clock tower in the world, and has drawn attention thanks to webcams set up by the Cal Falcons group that monitors the birds.

YouTube video
One of three live cams covering the peregrine falcon nest atop Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus. (Cal Falcons/YouTube)

Last April, a naming contest was held at UC Berkeley for three chicks that hatched atop the tower from a union between Annie and Lou, a male bird that replaced a former falcon father named Grinnell that was found dead in March 2022 after helping Annie make their home at the Campanile.

However, Lou has not been seen at the tower since early January and the Cal Falcons group said Tuesday that a courtship between Annie and her as-yet-unnamed paramour has entered a new stage.

“We have our first head bow display between Annie and her new fella,” the group said. “Head bow displays are one of the major courtship behaviors we see in peregrine falcons.”

Losing track of Lou

According to an article by the UC Berkeley media relations team, Lou had no identification bands and avian flu could be the culprit in his disappearance.

Now Annie, who is about 10 years old, is welcoming the new falcon into her nest.

“She was definitely soliciting him very aggressively, so she wants him around,” said Mary Malec in the UC Berkeley article. Malec is a member of Cal Falcons who monitors raptor nests for the East Bay Regional Park District. “Our typical egg-laying period is in mid-March, so they have plenty of time to get together and have their hormones sync up. It’s very encouraging.”

A peregrine falcon — one of 18 that Annie has raised atop the Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus — appears with chicks and eggs on Alcatraz Island in an undated photo. Peregrine falcons make their nests in shallow depressions, often along cliff edges. (National Park Service via Pagransen)

Annie has raised 18 chicks on the bell tower and the university says that if all goes well with her new mate, Cal Falcons could soon launch a public contest to name him and announce the winning name on Valentine’s Day.

The local peregrine falcon population, which includes one of Annie’s offspring that made its home on Alcatraz Island, appears to still be doing well despite Lou’s disappearance.

“That we have a new mate showing up on Annie’s doorstep relatively quickly suggests that the population of peregrines in the Bay Area counties continues to be healthy,” said Sean Peterson, an ecologist with Cal Falcons, in the UC Berkeley article. “Hopefully, the last couple of years were just bad luck and Annie and her new mate will have an extended time together.”

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Pagransen, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.