Today marks four weeks since the first chick hatched, and the three young birds continue to grow and develop well. As is always the case at this stage, they are changing their appearance rapidly as their feathers grow through.
They will carry on changing over the next 10 days before leaving the nest, which may even coincide with next Friday’s talk in St George’s church. It’s hard to believe it’s that close given how they look at present, but the down will soon be lost, they will stand (rather than rest on their ‘ankles’) and start to exercise their wings with increasing regularity and vigour.
The screengrab above shows one of the feeding sessions and the poor quality is explained by the time it was taken – 10:15 p.m.! This is unusually late in the day for the Sheffield pair, which was not observed to engage in night feeding in the extensive footage that Esther Kettel reviewed as part of her PhD, though some pairs did (as she reported in the Journal of Raptor Research). A couple of minutes later, the webcam switched to its night mode, almost exactly an hour after sunset, so perhaps we can count this as a night feed for the St George’s pair. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make out the prey, as Peregrines are known to take bats! For an urban pair, the presence of city lights may provide additional opportunities to hunt at night, thought there has been little evidence of this here in Sheffield.
Perhaps worth keeping an eye out for any further examples of this uncommon behaviour if you find yourself suffering from insomnia! And a couple of minutes later again, the female hopped out onto the perch and the chicks settled back down for the night.