Just a couple of days after saying the young birds hadn’t yet been seen on top of the box at least three of them have spent much of the day up and down from there during yesterday and today. According to Tom’s blog comment the correct term for young raptors is ‘branchers’, as they move from the nest into nearby branches (even though Peregrines rarely nest in trees).
The tail of two of the ‘branchers’ on top of the box can be seen above while a third is just hopping up to join them. The bird in the right-hand corner of the box, looking up in admiration, looks to be the smallest of the four and I’ve not yet seen him (a young male?) make it up there. Andy J sent me some more great pics from a visit this lunchtime that show they’re becoming increasingly restless and adventurous. Thanks Andy!
It’s looking pretty crowded up there! Venturing onto the webcam housing (the grey box) was one of the things they did last year shortly before taking the plunge for the first flight. At times this evening the camera was visibly shaking and loud clattering noises could be heard, no doubt caused by one of them on top of the housing flapping their wings. Andy also captured one of them having a slip while doing some vigorous flapping on the perching post.
Must have been a bit of a scary moment, both for the bird and for anyone watching below. The other young are certainly interested observers.
On a couple of occasions they’ve also looked as if they might hop across to the ledge around the church, but haven’t yet done so. Last year they did spend a bit of time on the ledge after fledging, and perhaps will do again.
The adults continue to bring food to the nest, but are now tending to leave it for the young to deal with themselves. There’s no sign of the adults leaving food away from the nest to encourage the young to leave the nest. This evening I happened to catch the male bring a Starling in to the nest, which he started to feed to the smaller chick, the two looking very similar in size.
I’ve heard of adults leaving live prey for the chicks to deal with, and apparently Starlings are the classic such item for urban Peregrines, but this wasn’t the case here. Less than a minute later, one of the young birds hopped down from the roof of the box and grabbed the Starling from the male and ran off with it to the corner out of sight. Presumably a female!
Today’s poor weather (it’s been raining for most of the day in Sheffield) will have discouraged any attempts at first flights, but the forecast for tomorrow is for an improving day, so all could be set for some fledging, just in time for the evening’s public talk in the church. My money’s on the presumed male to be the last to leave, but we’ll have to wait and see, though not for long!