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.


Wakefield Peregrines in the News

It was good to see Wakefield’s peregrines and Wakefield Naturalists’ Society receiving recognition on this evening’s television news. The ITV weatherman Jon Mitchell did a good job of informing the public about the opportunity for seeing these exciting animals in the centre of Wakefield.

John Mitchell on ITV's Calendar

John Mitchell on ITV’s Calendar

We hope to see more giant peregrines on the TV in the future.


Four Peregrine Chicks

On Tuesday, heavy rain fell for long periods and we had to wonder what state the young peregrines, which were just approaching one week old, would be in. A check of the video recordings showed that they looked almost untouched by the rain and the parents were continuing to carry out their duties very efficiently.

As can be seen, the male is working hard and he is bringing in so much food that it isn’t always needed immediately.

Peregrines tread carefully.

Peregrines are equipped with sharp talons and they can, occasionally, cause damage to an egg as they step into or out of the nest scrape. To reduce the chance of this happening, the birds move very carefully , particularly when settling down on the eggs. In addition, they instinctively curl their toes to put the talons out of harm’s way.

Egg care 1

Egg care 2