Sadness after body of Norwich Cathedral falcon chick is recovered

One of the cathedral peregrine chicks. Picture credit: Andy Thompson

One of the cathedral peregrine chicks. Picture credit: Andy Thompson - Credit: Archant

Officials from a conservation group spoke of their sadness yesterday after it emerged that one of Norwich Cathedral's peregrine falcon chicks had died.

The body of a female chick was recovered on Saturday after staff from the Hawk and Owl Trust were alerted by workmen in the bell tower that one of the four chicks had passed away.

The dead bird has been taken to a veterinary surgery and a post-mortem examination is set to take place this week to established the cause of death.

However, experts said it was not unusual for peregrine falcon chicks to die after fledgling and it was an uphill task for its parents to successfully raise four juveniles to adulthood.

Carrie Kerry, project manager from the Hawk and Owl Trust, said concerns were raised when the fourth chick was not seen for a couple of days.


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However, she said the three surviving chicks were doing well.

'It is sad because you form a personal relationship with them when you are watching them, but it is not unexpected and it is normal. For them to bring up four would have been difficult. The mortality rate is quite common and it is something that can happen pre or post fledgling.'

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'The other three are doing fantastic and are being fed close to together. It is quite exciting now because the parents will start to teach them how to hunt,' she said.

Officials from the Hawk and Owl Trust hope to remain outside the cathedral for the next two weeks and a stand in The Close has received a regular stream of visitors and bird watchers craning their necks to get a look at the peregrine chicks and their parents.

Experts fear that strong winds at the end of last week may have been a contributory factor towards the death of the chick.

The first peregrine egg was laid on March 22, the second on March 24, the third on March 27 and the fourth on March 30.

The four eggs hatched in a nest at the top of the cathedral between April 30 and May 2 and the four chicks left their nest for the first time between June 6 and 9.

The youngsters will remain at the cathedral for the next couple of weeks until they can learn to fend for themselves.

The progress of the falcons has been of keen interest to bird lovers via a webcam which broadcasts from the nesting box for the Hawk and Owl Trust and Norwich Cathedral websites.

Peregrines have suffered illegal killing from gamekeepers and landowners in the past, and been a target for egg collectors. However, better legal protection and control of pesticides have helped the population to recover considerably from a low in the 1960s.

To view the web camera, visit www.edp24.co.uk/home/webcam/falcon-cam

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