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Watch These Peregrine Falcons Become Fierce Parents | Deep Look

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 Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science
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High up in their 300-foot tower penthouse, falcon stars Annie and Grinnell's romance quickly gets real, as they face the tough demands of raising a family. They furiously guard their eggs from invaders, then stuff their screaming newborn chicks with meat. Will these kids ever leave the nest?

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DEEP LOOK is an ultra-HD (4K) wildlife and nature series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.

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Grinnell, a male peregrine falcon, looked up from his nest and started screaming. It was late March and he was taking a turn warming the four eggs he and his partner, Annie, were caring for in their home atop the bell tower at the University of California, Berkeley. A young female peregrine falcon, quite a bit larger than Grinnell, was lurking on the ledge above him. Young peregrine falcons will often come around the site where a pair is already nesting to check it out and plot a possible takeover. She walked right up to Grinnell in the nest and shrieked almost in his face. Grinnell spread his wings wide and swiftly chased her off the tower.

Grinnell had reason to be territorial. He and Annie have been raising chicks on this 300-foot tower since 2017.

Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals in the world: When in hot pursuit of a pigeon or other bird to pluck from midair they can reach 240 miles per hour faster than a single engine plane. But even these raptor superstars need to settle down with a mate and have some babies to whom they can pass on their love for meat. When they do, they often pick a tall building in a city. Peregrine falcons regularly make their homes in cities across the United States, from New York to Chicago to San Francisco.

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--- Why do peregrine falcons nest on tall buildings?

Tall buildings just like the cliffs they live on in the wild give peregrine falcons protection from predators, a perch from which to hunt pigeons and other birds and ledges where they can lay their eggs.

--- Do peregrine falcons make nests?

Peregrines dont build a nest of twigs and leaves. In the wild, they lay their eggs on a ledge in a cliff into which the female has scratched a bowl-shaped depression called a scrape to prevent her eggs from rolling away.

--- Why did the peregrine falcon nearly go extinct?

The pesticide DDT, used heavily in the 1940s and until 1972 in the United States to control mosquitoes and agricultural pests, accumulated in peregrines bodies. It thwarted the development of their embryos. And it reduced the amount of calcium in the eggs, which resulted in eggshells so thin that they broke when parents sat on them.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

https://www.kqed.org/science/1969983/raising-peregrine-falcon-chicks-is-a-real-cliff-hanger/

---+ For more information:

Watch Annie and Grinnell live on three cameras on the Cal Falcons channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmjo8Rlp6q98TZlG8TDF4GQ/featured

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---+ About KQED KQED, an NPR and PBS affiliate in San Francisco, CA, serves Northern California and beyond with a public-supported alternative to commercial TV, radio and web media. Funding for Deep Look is provided in part by PBS Digital Studios. Deep Look is a project of KQED Science, the largest science and environment reporting unit in California. KQED Science is supported by The National Science Foundation, the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, the Vadasz Family Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Campaign 21 and the members of KQED.
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