As March begins we enter Peregrine season proper. This is the month when we expect to see some action! Across the UK urban Peregrine nests with webcams and Twitter feeds are reporting more frequent visits from their birds, male and female birds being seen together more frequently, brief glimpses of courtship behaviour and even a copulation attempt or two.
Here in Sheffield we continue to see the birds frequently on the nest platform as we have been doing since December. There are 3 birds appearing on camera; the female, the male and one of last year’s youngsters. Personally I am not seeing that much of the male bird but I’m not able to watch all of the time so that’s not a particularly scientific observation, it may just be a matter of timing on my part. The female is present for large amounts of time now and is the bird I see most often on camera. She will not stray too far now and is firmly in place to defend her territory, ready for breeding. She is often accompanied by the juvenile bird, just hanging around or begging for food if a kill has been made. I haven’t seen the adult male at the platform at the same time as the juvenile for a while now but, again, that could just be me.
It will be interesting to see what happens this month as the days get longer and Peregrine hormones switch the birds on to breeding.
Will the young bird hang around?
Will it still be fed?
Will it be forced out?
Time will tell.
We haven’t had a juvenile bird linger like this at St. Georges previously, typically the fledged juveniles have quietly moved on come September/October time. In most cases to destinations unknown….
Expect to see the male and female bonding in and around the nest platform, they will face each other and bow their heads down and make loud contact noises to each other which, frankly, I can only describe as clucking! They will make a right old racket – this is not the sweet sound of songbird! Individually look out for either one of the birds scraping about in the nest platform substrate – the result being the creation of a little depression for eggs to be laid in. Don’t expect both birds to do this in the same place! If you do see any sort of bonding or breeding behaviour please do take a screen grab or short video and tweet it to @SheffPeregrines – we aren’t all necessarily able to watch the feed all of the time.
As this pair have only bred together once before it is a little difficult to predict what schedule they will be on. As mentioned above some Peregrine pairs elsewhere are showing clear signs of courtship & copulation. We’re definitely not that far along yet. All we have to go on are last years timings – a summary of which are made below. In 2020 this pair kicked off with laying their first egg on March 29th. This is somewhat later than we were used to in Sheffield with the previous female (or females). Over the 4 years from 2014 – 2017, Sheffield first laying dates were consistently the 19th or 20th of March. In those years very obvious pair bonding and copulation could be seen as March began. Things would have to speed up very quickly if we were to hit similar dates this year. Only the birds will know when they are ready. Let’s hope that things progress nicely and we see some mating and egg laying before March is out. The days will be much longer by then too. All things to look forward to.
1st Egg laid: 29th March
2nd Egg laid: 31stMarch/1st April
Chicks hatched: 7th May
Chicks ringed: 27th May TRF & TNF
Chicks fledged: TRF 15th June, TNF ?16th June?