How long?


On Monday 13th May the male Peregrine was still attempting to incubate the eggs whenever he hadn’t been dislodged from the nest.  Today is 40 days since full time brooding began and perhaps  as many as 8 days since they “should” have been expected to hatch.  We watchers know the eggs won’t hatch at this stage, regardless of the long periods they’re left unattended, but the question is ‘why doesn’t he?’  Birds don’t think and rationalise like humans do, they don’t ponder and reason, or count the days back to laying, they act on instinct, especially raptors.  The Peregrine’s urge to breed keeps him there, it’s hard wired into his DNA.  Factors such as hormones and length of day triggered him to return to his territory in mid-winter, to re-bond with his mate, to provide food for her, to copulate, to defend the territory, to incubate eggs.  The same urge keeps him trying to incubate eggs in vain and it is only a waning of this instinct which will cause him to give up.  That waning may be through time as hormones lower, it may be stress from all the intrusions and physical threats or he may be forced off physically once and for all.  He’s not sad because he’s lonely and he’s not looking at his watch thinking ‘I’ll give it till Thursday,’ but its difficult viewing as he doesn’t yet appear to “know” what we know.  We can’t help feel sorry for him, even though it won;t help him at all.  It’s made all the more difficult watching other Peregrine webcams and seeing chicks arrive and grow, Wakefield have 3 chicks so far and Derby finally have their first.  Be sure to check these out sites and follow their fortunes – we wish them luck between now and fledging.

But that’s not the end here.  There will be plenty to watch here over the summer and it will be fascinating and be important for the future of our nest site.  It may not be a summer of watching fluffy white chicks but it will still be a summer of learning about and being entertained by these amazing birds.  For a site with doomed eggs and a missing resident female there’s still peregrine action all day on the webcams!


Signs that the incubating will end soon are the feathers and carnage in the nest platform from two recent pigeon kills.  Rarely do we see such a mess even with hungry chicks to feed!  The diligence required to keep a habitable home must be receding.  Once the eggs are truly abandoned we will see what happens around the platform.  It may be that the birds stick around much more than we might anticipate in a bid to retain/takeover the nest.  Possession is undoubtedly 9/10ths of the law in Peregrine land!  Or it may well be that the action, the battle for territory, moves to a wider arena around St. Georges, in which case visits to Broad Lane in person will be the order of the day.  I cannot envisage either bird giving up on their claim and prize perches will be coveted and watched.  Look out on the top of the Arts Tower to see who is holding the upper hand, the tops of the construction cranes are worth a scan too.  Binoculars essential.

This blog will continue too, keeping a periodical eye on events and talking all things Falcon.  After all Peregrines are for life…



  1. Great blog……isn’t nature a wonderful yet cruel fact of life…Having watched the only chick to hatch just fade away before being removed by the male….and seeing how messy the intruder female has left the nest box in I can’t wait to what happens next…
    I have got everything crossed that next year will be more successful, in the meantime I shall continue to watch in utter fascination as the story continues to unfold in front of us….

  2. 2 years ago something similar happened at Norwich young falcon saw off the resident one. In this case there were 4 young, tercel raised them only for the them to be attacked as they fledged. The young falcon was very large just like the one in Sheffield, she could be traced to Bath. They became a pair and have successfully produced offspring

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