Cathedral Peregrines Update | 20 May 2013

Day 20 | A full 20 days have past since the first of the 4 chicks to hatch at Norwich Cathedral emerged from its shell. With 6 or maybe 7 feeds a day the group are developing quickly. They now sport recognisable feathers amongst the down and, driven by curiosity and a new found mobility, are shuffling around the box on their haunches exploring the corners of their little world. Those visiting the Watch Point will soon be able to see the chicks peeking over the edge of the box.

The chicks on Day 19, gaining independence, mobility and enough down to keep themselves warm
The chicks on Day 19, gaining independence, mobility and enough down to keep themselves warm

You may have noticed that the parents no longer continually (try to) cover them for warmth and often leave the chicks for increasingly long periods. In fact one of our Hawk and Owl Trust experts tells me that the chicks will have grown a second, dense layer of down which although not completely waterproof does provide the insulation they need to keep themselves warm most of the time.

The chicks have now grown to a point where they can be fitted with leg rings that uniquely identify each individual bird. Ringing is planned, weather permitting, to be carried out week commencing 20 May, by a fully qualified member of the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology, www.bto.org). The BTO is the only authority licensed to ring wild birds in the UK. At this stage of their development the chicks still tend to sit still and can be picked up without inducing unnecessary stress. When recovered, these rings provide valuable scientific information that all helps to gain a greater understanding of the life and needs of a peregrine falcon. The rings do not hinder the natural activities of the birds and in fact they pay little attention to them.

It is remarkable to think that chicks’ leg bones have already grown to almost adult size. They can therefore be ringed safely in the knowledge that the ring size will be right for the rest of its life. The correct ring size is determined by careful measurement of the leg. This measurement is also an aid in identifying the sex of the chick with female peregrine leg bones being slightly larger in diameter than those of the male.

The webcam will be switched off while the chicks are being ringed. This is not because it’s the ringing process is traumatic process for the birds but simply because many of our viewers may not be aware of what’s going on and become very concerned when they suddenly see a hand removing a chick from the nest. We included a video on the DVD covering the 2012 nesting season which showed the activity in the nest during ringing.

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/