Prey Species

Being able to observe the peregrines, study the webcam footage, and collect prey debris from the nesting site and local vicinity has enabled us to start recording data on the prey selection and diet of the peregrines nesting on Wakefield Cathedral. In turn, this will enable us to build up a picture of their hunting behaviour, including how far they are travelling to catch their prey.

Some of the prey isn’t a surprise, for example the Feral Pigeon. However, on one occasion a Bat (Nyctalus) was recorded being brought to the nest box.

Bat (Nyctalus) on the menu

Below are the 46 different species recorded to date, and their frequency. There must be others that have been caught but for which we have not seen the evidence.

  • Avocet (once)
  • Bat (Nyctalus) (once)
  • Black-headed Gull (occasional)
  • Blackbird (occasional)
  • Budgerigar (once)
  • Bullfinch (once)
  • Chaffinch (occasional)
  • Coal Tit (once)
  • Common Snipe (regular in season)
  • Common Tern (twice)
  • Cuckoo (once)
  • Dunlin (occasional)
  • Feral Pigeon (frequent)
  • Fieldfare (regular in season)

Fieldfare skulls and feathers

  • Golden Plover (regular in season)
  • Goldfinch (occasional)
  • Great Crested Grebe (once)
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker (occasional)

Great Spotted Woodpecker feathers

  • Green Sandpiper (once)
  • Greenfinch (occasional)
  • Greenshank (once)
  • House Sparrow (once)
  • Jack Snipe (twice)

Jack Snipe skull

  • Jackdaw (occasional)
  • Knot (occasional)
  • Lapwing (occasional)
  • Leach’s Petrel (once)

Leach’s Petrel skull

  • Lesser Redpoll (once)
  • Lesser Whitethroat (once)
  • Linnet (once)
  • Little Grebe (frequent)
  • Magpie (not eaten – remains found below County Hall)
  • Moorhen (occasional)
  • Nuthatch (once)
  • Pied Wagtail (occasional)
  • Redshank (once)
  • Redwing (regular in season)
  • Ringed Plover (once)
  • Robin (once)
  • Starling (frequent)
  • Swallow (twice)
  • Swift (occasional)
  • Teal (frequent)

Teal skull

  • Water Rail (twice)
  • Woodcock (regular in season)
  • Yellowhammer (once)

There’s still a lot to be learnt about the prey selection and diet of the peregrines nesting on Wakefield Cathedral. We will update this page with the details of any new species we record.

Edward J. A. Drewitt and Nick Dixon analysed the diet of peregrines in three cities in southwest England – Bristol, Bath and Exeter – between 1998 and 2007. Their findings are summarised in this paper, Diet and prey selection of urban-dwelling Peregrine Falcons in southwest England, which also reviews the night-time hunting behaviour of peregrines.