Peregrine Chicks, 2017

The peregrines on Wakefield Cathedral have been incubating four eggs for almost five weeks. The first hatching was expected on Tuesday, 2nd May, 34 days after the laying of the third egg.


On Tuesday afternoon, it was clear that something was happening because the female fidgeted a lot and looked down towards the eggs frequently. She also refused to take anything when the male tried, several times, to make a food delivery. Eventually, she shifted position and we could see that at least one egg was hatching.

First Sighting of a Chick

Our first sighting of a chick came later on Tuesday evening, when the female left the chick and eggs briefly to relieve herself by reversing up to the edge of the nestbox. Judging by internet comments, a lots of people, including at least one in Australia, were glued to their screens as they waited to see how many eggs would hatch. For peregrines, it’s normal for most of the eggs to hatch almost simultaneously, whilst the remaining egg hatches a couple of days later.

First Feed

It was the following morning when we saw that three eggs had hatched. The female fed the chicks and then, for the first time, allowed the male to go near them so that he could sit on them whilst she took a short break.

Damaged Egg

Unfortunately, one egg was damaged at some point during the incubation period. The damage was first noticed a few days before the hatching. It looks like a puncture caused by a talon. In the picture, you can see that the female has relaxed the toes of her left foot so that they curl up. This is what the birds do instinctively as they approach the eggs to avoid causing damage. However, accidents do happen and it isn’t unusual for an egg to be damaged. As three chicks hatched together, the damaged egg must have been the last one to be laid.


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28 Responses to Peregrine Chicks, 2017

  1. Mick atkinson says:

    Was that a budgie they just had for breakfast?

    • Francis Hickenbottom says:

      I’ve just looked at the recording and I think it could be something like that. The feathers are white but too small for domestic pigeon. There are also some blue feathers.

  2. Gill Curan says:

    Looks like the unhatched egg is being “recycled” at the moment.

  3. Phil says:

    is the 3rd chick being fed? looks like a future dinner!

    • Francis Hickenbottom says:

      Phil, all of the chicks are being fed. There might sometimes seem to be one that is missing out but that is usually because it has had enough to eat. Each day, the chicks are getting bigger. However, some size differences might appear in the coming weeks because males are bigger than females. Last year, at the ringing of the chicks, the males were around 650 g but the female, which was two days younger, was 800 g.

      Please not that it isn’t normal for peregrine chicks to consume a sibling. This is seen frequently with barn owls and some other species but I have not seen peregrines doing it.

      • Paul Batty says:

        Males bigger than females,maybe in this nest because of the timings of them hatching
        In general female is the bigger bird as in all birds of prey

  4. Brenda Turner says:

    What are the pink feathers from?

  5. Pete Griffin says:

    I noticed that some bright pink feathers have appeared in the nest box. Could these belong to a locally dyed pigeon?
    I have seen groups of similarly coloured birds in South Leeds.

  6. Gill says:

    So pigeon fanciers dye their pigeons pink to confuse peregrines?

  7. Elaine farrar says:

    Will you be putting rings on the chicks this year

    • Francis Hickenbottom says:

      Yes, they will be ringed on Saturday, 27th, starting at about 10 a.m. Anyone in Wakefield at that time will see the parents making some noise when we remove the chicks from the box. They will be fitted with metal BTO rings and coloured, plastic “darvic” rings.

  8. Mick atkinson says:

    Every day I look in on the nest and the rate of growth of the chicks is astounding .the parents are terrific providers .

    • Francis Hickenbottom says:

      Yes, it’s always interesting to see that some people worry about whether all of the chicks are receiving enough food in the first few days after hatching. As time goes by, it usually becomes clear to watchers that the parents know their job and do it very well. Data from the Bath peregrines is interesting. It covers about 10 years and shows that the number of youngsters hatching each year equals the number that fledge, i.e. they feed and raise them all.

  9. Stuart fryer says:

    Has a chick died?

  10. Elaine farrar says:

    The chick are looking fabulous


    I have only seen 1 bird since I first looked this morning are the other 2 hiding ?

    • Francis Hickenbottom says:

      One bird (PBA, the male) was the one rescued yesterday. Early today, it was hopping on and off the wall at the top of the tower when the wind caused it to lose its footing and take to the air. Whilst being pursued by jackdaws, it flew around to Wakefield House, next to Trinity Walk. It spent the day there and was still there when I left Wakefield at 3:00. The building has a large, flat roof and is a good place for the youngster. The parents know where it is and they will feed it. One female was located above shops on Westgate. It was still there at 3:00. In other words, all three juveniles were in safe places as I left Wakefield. They will go back up onto the tower when they have the strength to fly up.

  12. Pamela Simms says:

    Morning Francis,
    I found one of the chicks last night on the road at the side of Trinity. The bird was unable to fly and was limping. We caught her and called out Scissett bird of prey centre. I would like to know if you are aware and how she’s doing

    Thanks Pam

    • John Gardner says:

      Hi Pam

      Thanks for your help last night in saving the peregrine. I went along with Francis and the Scissett team had already caught the bird. It’s due at the vet this afternoon at 3:00pm and hopefully will then be put straight back into the nest. I’m sure Francis will give an update later today

  13. Pamela Simms says:

    Hi John
    Thats great news. If possible please could you let me know approx time when the chick goes back to the nest ? I know it’s a big ask but would love to watch.

    Thanks Pam

    • Francis Hickenbottom says:

      Pamela, I’ve only just seen your request. However, you haven’t missed anything because we never return youngsters to the nestbox. Approaching or opening the box would cause any other youngsters in there to jump out. Any youngster that we tried to put in there might also try to jump straight out of the front. Instead, we take the bird to the top of the tower and release it onto the walkway that runs around the top of the tower, behind the wall that supports the box. The parents will see the youngster there and feed it. The youngster should be able to get up onto the wall, when it has the strength, and it may then go back into the box. The box loses its importance once youngsters have fledged. As long as a youngster is on a roof in Wakefield centre, the parents will find and feed it. They will continue feeding their offspring until early autumn.


    Are all 3 birds still alive ?
    I only see one in the nest these days

    • Francis Hickenbottom says:

      Pauline, the webcam isn’t the best way to check on progress any more. The best way to know what is happening is to go into Wakefield with a pair of binoculars. The main places where you might find young peregrines are: the cathedral, County Hall, Town Hall, the police radio transmitter and any of the tower blocks. I can confirm that all three youngsters are flying around and they are being fed by the parents.

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