It has been a busy three and a half weeks at the top of Leicester Cathedral, with the resident Peregrine pair doing a great job at raising their chicks. They have been back and forth with a good supply of prey items, feeding, stashing leftovers and generally protecting the chicks. For a couple of weeks, the final egg remained in the nest, but on the 21st May I noticed that it had finally been broken and eaten.
With all the attention on just two chicks, the adults have been able to work well as a team so far, which as you can see is paying off as the chicks are growing well and looking very healthy! Feather tips are quite noticeable now on their wings and tails, and they are becoming a lot more independent. They are even walking around and sitting on the ledge!
On the 24th May, the chicks were colour-ringed by licensed ringers to help identify them this season as well as in the future when they have fledged and matured. It’s nice to know that the siblings have also been sexed provisionally as one female and one male – how lovely!
This coming week, I expect to see a lot more body feathers push through their down, along with their wings begin to look larger and fuller. The chicks should also open their wings more often and start running around the nest box and ledge.
It is week four of the NTU peregrine falcon chicks’ development and I am honestly amazed at how quickly they are growing! I noticed yesterday that the cameras were off for a while, so knew that it was ‘ringing time’. It was exciting to later read that the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and NTU Sustainability team had indeed finally ringed the chicks and found out that there are three females and one male! To ring the chicks, the team waited for the parents to leave the nest and then quickly fitted a small, lightweight, harmless, metal ring around the leg of each eyas. Ringing birds is essential for bird conservation as it helps provide information about their movements, locations and lifespans.
Some brilliant photographs taken during the ringing process. (Thank you for these Emily).
The images below are just a few stills from the NTU live stream that I have saved. Archie and Mrs P have been providing a constant supply of feral pigeons and other medium sized birds for the eyases and as you can see in the fifth image, their crops have been nice and full. Although one chick is smaller than the others (and has been nicknamed ‘Diddy’ on Facebook) all four are getting their fair share of food… I even caught one of them possibly ‘gaping’ for food whilst both parents were away, which you can see in the sixth image!
On May 13th, I noticed that all four chicks were starting to grow their flight and contour feathers, and yesterday (16th) the new darker feathers were poking through their down quite clearly (image eight). The chicks may have changed a lot already, but we still have plenty of development to see. At this stage they have gained a sharp eyesight and are very interested in anything that moves – whether it be a fly or blowing feather. Their legs are getting stronger and they are a lot more active in the scrape.
In the next week or so, they will lose most of their down apart from a few tufts on their heads (hopefully – for our amusement) and will be showing off their juvenile feathers. We may see them flapping their wings and before long, in week six, the eyases may fledge the nest for the first time! They should remain around the nest-site for a few weeks, during which time they will become adept at flying, pursue other birds and capture their own food, but will still rely on their parents for most of their food. Around August they will leave the nest for good… and I must say that I will certainly miss watching them!