Grinnell, UC Berkeley's perennial male hawk, is found dead downtown - Bark Sedov

Grinnell, UC Berkeley’s perennial male hawk, is found dead downtown

Grinnell, UC Berkeley's longtime male peregrine falcon, perches on a ledge of the Campanile.

Grinnell, UC Berkeley’s male peregrine falcon, died Thursday, March 31, at the age of 7. He first arrived on campus in late 2016 and made a home with his companion Annie at the top of the Campanile. (Image courtesy of Cal Falcons)

UC Berkeley’s male peregrine falcon, Grinnell, was found dead midday today (Thursday, March 31) in the middle of the street in downtown Berkeley, near the campus. According to members of Cal Falcons, it’s not clear why the seven-year-old Raptor was hit by a car. Two passers-by saw the downed Falcon and contacted Cal Falcons via social media to ask if it was Grinnell; A member of the group of ornithologists and raptor experts recovered his body.

This morning, a juvenile peregrine falcon threatened the nest of Grinnell and Annie, his longtime mate, on Berkeley’s Campanile, said Lynn Schofield, an ornithologist at Cal Falcons. The young bird of prey visited the tower twice and entered the nesting box of the pair of falcons, in which Annie has laid two eggs so far; a third was expected today. It is not uncommon for Annie to walk away from her eggs for a few hours at this point in her oviposition. Cal Falcons posted a video of Grinnell defending the nest on Facebook this morning.

“We don’t know if (the activity on the tower today) is related to why Grinnell was out,” Schofield said. “If (the youngster) had fought (with Grinnell), she might have tried to punch him to the ground. All morning Annie and Grinnell defended the tower. We’re not sure if we’ve seen this youngster before (on the tower) or not.

“All we can say is that Grinnell was on the downtown street and was hit by a car. … We are all very upset.”

Later today, Mary Malec, a raptor expert at Cal Falcons who retrieved Grinnell’s body from the scene, said she believes Grinnell “landed on the ground after his encounter with one of the floaters” and then, alive or dead, was hit by a car. She said his remains were being examined at the State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Health Laboratory in Sacramento. Floaters are non-breeding adult birds of prey lured by occupied areas.

“We get calls from people saying, ‘There’s a hawk on the ground,’ or ‘There’s a baby hawk on the ground,’ but it’s never a hawk,” Malec said. “But we always look at it. We always answer these calls. …Today the first thing I saw was it was a hawk and the second thing I saw was Grinnell’s (identification) band. Then my heart sank.”

Schofield said the eggs in Annie and Grinnell’s nest are unlikely to hatch this spring because Annie cannot hunt, feed, and incubate the eggs at the same time.

“If Annie doesn’t find a new partner really quickly, and there’s a possibility that the new partner (for Grinnell) will just step in,” Schofield said, “these eggs most likely won’t make it.” Annie got over one this afternoon and early evening seen from three webcams on the campanile sitting on the nest.

“She’ll probably find out soon enough” that Grinnell is gone, Malec said, adding that she doubts Annie will accept a new partner any time soon. “It would take time for them to bond. She will not trust (another man) right away.”

The news of Grinnell’s death is devastating for Annie and Grinnell’s fans, both locally and worldwide, especially as the past six months have been unusually dramatic in the birds’ lives. After a relatively dramatic life together, beginning with establishing a territory on the Campanile and hatching 13 chicks in late 2016, Annie and Grinnell have had only great ups and downs since last October.

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Just a few days ago, Grinnell was defending the nest he shared with his mate Annie, who had started laying eggs, from an intruder. (Image courtesy of Cal Falcons)

In late October, Grinnell was found injured atop a trash can at the Berkeley Tennis Club, wounded by rival hawks eyeing his territory atop the clock tower. He healed at Lindsey Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital and was discharged in mid-November, then flew back to the Tower and Annie. But while Grinnell was away, Annie had courted the male hawk that had attacked her mate; Both male hawks hung around the tower until New Year’s Day 2022, when Annie and Grinnell displayed courtship behavior. The rival disappeared and Annie and Grinnell appeared ready for their sixth breeding season.

The hawk Grinnell takes off from the ground on the day of his release after being hospitalized.

Grinnell was released across campus on November 17, 2021 after being hospitalized at Lindsey Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital. At the end of October he had been attacked by rival hawks. (Photo by Bridget Ahern)

But in late February, Annie went unusually missing for at least a week, prompting Cal Falcons to announce she was likely dead, badly injured somewhere, or out of territory. Surprisingly, she returned to campus on March 1 and settled into her nest as if she had never left it. She laid her first egg of the season on Saturday March 26th.

What will happen next in the Tower is unknown, as are any other details about Grinnell’s death.

“We can only speculate,” Schofield said. “If someone takes a closer look at their body, we might get more insight into their injuries and if there are any signs of injuries other than the car.”

Malec added that the state lab will conduct a toxicology analysis to see if anything shows up in Grinnell’s organs that could have contributed to his death.

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