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Reserves

chickYesterday (13 May 2019) the three Peregrine chicks at Norwich cathedral were ringed by fully-trained licenced bird ringers, who have been granted special access to the nest of a Schedule 1 protected species – without which it is illegal to approach the nest of Peregrines.

After being carefully removed from the nest, the chicks are taken inside and measured, checked and weighed before a lightweight, individually numbered metal ring is placed on their leg. Once each has been ringed and their details – biometrics – recorded they are replaced in the nest together.

Handling the chicks like this allows us the opportunity to check their health and the biometrics will reveal the likely sex of each chick, although it is never 100% accurate.

During the ringing process the parents were nearby and aware of what was happening. As in previous years the male seemed unconcerned and the female, who has not experienced ringing of her chicks before, flew around and called, but quickly settled as soon as the chicks were returned. Food was brought in and the family were feeding normally very shortly after the ringers had left the cathedral spire.

The ring is the equivalent of us wearing a bracelet or wrist watch and the birds ignore them, but they do allow individual identification should the bird ever been found in the future. In addition to the metal BTO rings, we also fix lightweight plastic ‘Darvic’ colour rings, each with a unique combination of colour and 2-letter code. These allow individual identification of the bird without the need to capture or handle them in any way – much as the resident female Peregrine at Norwich is ringed with a blue Darvic ring with the letters ‘GA’ inscribed on it. This has revealed that she is the same bird that was ringed as a chick at Bath in 2013, and that several of her siblings have also been resighted in various locations around the country.

This year the chicks measured as two females and one male. The two females were colour ringed with orange YL and YS and the male with orange L7. We look forward to finding out where the three Norwich chicks this year end up, whilst all the while adding to scientists’ knowledge of the birds, their dispersal and survival patterns.

Photo by Chris Skipper

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