With a consistent six feeds a day the 4 chicks continue to develop and are doing just fine at the moment. Their rate of growth is remarkable. It almost seems that it can be seen day by day. Subtle changes in the daily routine are starting to emerge though, indicating the adults are adapting to the changing needs of their offspring even at this stage.
Firstly, the falcon has finally allowed the tercel to feed the chicks. This has been the preserve of the female up until these last two days despite his efforts sneak in and do so earlier. As their digestive systems develop and grow, the amount the chicks are consuming and the size of the morsels being fed to them is increasing too. You may have also noticed that they do not drink. All the fluids they need they get from the meat.
Prey is now being brought to the nest and plucked in front of the chicks – the first stage of their education on how to look after themselves in later life. What with discarded feathers from the prey and the chicks projectile poos the nest box will start to look a little messy from now on.
These developments can be seen on the latest YouTube clip, taken yesterday morning:
Although the chicks just sit on their haunches and not able to stand yet, they are showing signs of increasing strength in their legs. Note the way that the older, larger chicks are now raising themselves slightly each time the adult presents food to the group. Its good exercise and improves the chance of being given food.
A tentative date of 21 May has now been set for the ringing of the chicks. The leg bones of the chicks will be virtually fully formed at this stage so the identification rings can be fitted in the knowledge that they will not cause problems because of further bone growth in the future. The rings will be fitted by Phil Littler, a fully qualified member of the BTO, working with the Hawk and Owl Trust Conservation Officer, Nigel Middleton.
This date assumes that the weather will be suitable and we are granted the necessary permissions. If bad weather causes the ringing to be delayed by more than a day or so it is likely that we will not be able to ring the chicks at all. There are also strict laws covering the disturbance of wild birds, particularly applicable to peregrines. These laws apply equally to the general public and those within the Hawk and Owl Trust that are well qualified and hugely experienced in working with wild birds of prey. No one is allowed to approach the nest without the necessary permissions from the authorities, even though the intentions would be honourable. There are many factors to consider. We have to demonstrate that we have good cause, the potential for adverse consequences have been minimised and it’s in the overall best interests of the birds themselves.
I’m off for a short break now but hope to bring you another update in about 10 days time. By that time the chicks will be starting to show signs of independence and shuffling around the nest. In the meantime please keep an eye on the Hawk and Owl web site, www.upp.hawkandowl.org, for any significant developments at Norwich Cathedral or make a trip to the Watch Point and speak to one of our members. It’s a great day out, and there is a beautiful cathedral to look around too.
David Gittens | Volunteer – Wildlife CCTV,
Hawk and Owl Trust – Sculthorpe Moor
For the live video stream, and to help with the costs of running our webcam please visit www.upp.hawkandowl.org/live/