A young peregrine perfecting the art of flying.
Peregrine falcons have been nesting, at Chichester Cathedral, since 2001. Including 2010, the parents will have raised 34 youngsters. According to RSPB members, the parents used to hunt away from the cathedral, but now, with advancing years, are hunting closer to the cathedral. In 2010, the female has been timed at approximately 2.5 minutes to return with a kill, and has regularly achieved under 5 minutes.
The peregrines have reduced the local pigeon population in 2010, and the survivors are flying scared. While peregrines usually hunt for birds, mammals can be taken. Two photographs (quality too poor to be used), taken on 12th June, seem to show the remains of one squirrel, with a second being brought in for the four youngsters.
The notes, below, are taken from the RSPB website:
The peregrine is a large and powerful falcon. It has long, broad, pointed wings and a relatively short tail. It is blue-grey above, with a blackish top of the head and an obvious black 'moustache' that contrasts with its white face.
Peregrines are territorial, with each territory containing one or more nest sites. The territories are well-spaced, and their size is determined by the abundance of food.
The female normally lays a clutch of three or four eggs in late March or April at 2-3 day intervals. Both birds share the incubation, which begins with the last or penultimate egg, and takes 29-32 days per egg.
The chicks hatch over a period of a couple of days, and have smaller size differences than chicks of most raptor species. Most of the brooding and feeding of small young is carried out by the female, while the male hunts to supply the food. After the first couple of weeks, the female shares the hunting.
The young fledge at 35-42 days, and are independent two or more months later. During this time, the adult peregrines teach the young to hunt and handle prey in flight. Less than a third of peregrines reach breeding age. Those that do can expect to live 5-6 years. The oldest known peregrine was over 16 years old.
Peregrines are widespread in the UK through the western part of England, and in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. In southeast and east England they are found on a small number of isolated sites, though their range is slowly spreading.
They reach their highest densities in upland areas of Wales, southern Scotland and northwest England. The UK population was estimated at 1,400 pairs in 2002.
SU8504 : Peregrine Falcons at Chichester Cathedral (6)