The young raptors hatched in early April in a nest box at the top of UC Berkeley’s Campanile. Credit: Bridget Ahern

Zephyr flew first, followed by Rosa and then Luna. On Friday, May 26, all three peregrine falcon siblings, offspring of Annie and Lou, flew off UC Berkeley’s Campanile for the first time. The young raptors — two females and a male hatched in early April in a nest box on the tower — have practiced their takeoffs, flights and landings ever since and will continue perfect their skills, and also learn to hunt, in the next month or two. Then, they’ll leave home to find their own territories.

This story was produced by UC Berkeley and first published on Berkeley News

“They’re all starting to fly really well,” said Mary Malec, a raptor expert with Cal Falcons. She and a team of about 25 volunteers have now wrapped up the annual Fledge Watch. For about a week, as the newest falcons learned to fly, they monitored the activity through binoculars and were ready to help should a fledgling get stranded or hurt.

But photos by wildlife photographers such as Bridget Ahern and John Davis provide the most close-up looks at Zephyr, Rosa and Luna and how Annie and Lou are encouraging, teaching and helping them.

On Saturday, May 20, Annie sits on a loudspeaker on the roof of Evans Hall, seemingly calling out the start of Fledge Watch, an annual springtime event when her newest offspring learn to fly off the Campanile. Credit: Bridget Ahern
Annie (front) glides past the Campanile that same day as Lou watches from a perch on the tower. Credit: Bridget Ahern
Fledge Watch volunteers Wing Ng (left) and UC Berkeley students Violet Henneberger (center) and Miles Turman (right) check the skies for signs of flying falcons. Credit: Bridget Ahern
On Tuesday, May 23, at sunset, Zephyr peers down from an opening in the Campanile’s upper balustrade, through its fleur-de-lis ornamentation, but is not ready to fly. Neither are his sisters, Luna and Rosa. Credit: John Davis
On Thursday, May 23, with the flap of her wings, mother Annie (above) encourages Zephyr (right) and Luna (left) to jump off the west side of the tower and to try and fly. They don’t budge. Credit: John Davis
On Friday, May 26, Zephyr is the first to try flying. He leaves the Campanile at 3:45 a.m. and lands on the oldest building on campus, South Hall, which was completed in 1873. This photo was taken at 10:43 a.m., when he was continuing to test his skills around the building. Credit: Bridget Ahern
“I did it!” Could that be what Zephyr’s expressing? Credit: Bridget Ahern
Rosa takes her first flight around 7:30 a.m. on May 26, about four hours after her brother Zephyr did. Credit: Bridget Ahern
In the evening, Rosa attempts a tricky landing on the Campanile. Credit: Bridget Ahern
It’s a vertical challenge, but Rosa eventually nails it. Credit: Bridget Ahern
Annie brings food to Zephyr on South Hall. She subsequently places the food into his mouth. Credit: Bridget Ahern
Looking confident, Luna, the largest of the two female juveniles, soars through the skies on Friday evening. This photo is of her first flight. Credit: Bridget Ahern
As she lands, Luna gives us a look at her beautiful wings. Credit: Bridget Ahern
Luna chooses to spend time in a tree near the Bancroft Library with Zephyr (left). Credit: Bridget Ahern
On Sunday afternoon, Lou delivers a meal to Rosa on Wheeler Hall. Credit: Bridget Ahern

Ahern, who was part of the Fledge Watch team, said she took about 5,000 photos over eight days, documenting the progress being made by the newest members of Berkeley’s famous falcon family.

“I took a week off of work to participate. … It’s just thrilling to see them take their first flights,” she said.

Malec said the falcon siblings like to spend time together and can also can be seen “playing talon tag,” where they hook their talons together midair. It’s good practice, she explained, for when their parents, holding prey in their talons, urge the young raptors to grab it — an important step toward hunting to feed themselves, and their own families, some day.