Norwich Cathedral Peregrines Update – Tuesday 14th June 2016

It is with regret that the Hawk and Owl Trust has to announce that the final chick to fledge from the cathedral has been killed by the new female (GA) as of 9.15pm on the evening of Monday 13th June.


“The drama all started on the 15th May when our resident female here at Norwich disappeared after an altercation with the intruding female falcon.  With the loss off the resident female, the Hawk and Owl Trust was concerned for the 4 chicks and not sure if the Tiercel (male) could provide enough food.  Thankfully he turned out to be an excellent provider.  Last Thursday (9th June) when chick 43 fledged from the platform at 6.44am, she ended up on the wall of the Deanery, this created a problem as it is known that the Tiercel would not come that low to feed, so it was taken back to the Bell Tower by a Hawk and Owl Trust employee, within a matter of minutes the new intruding female who by this time was well and truly established her dominance at the spire.  She started to attack chick 43, knocking her onto the bell tower roof this happened on several occasions.  Later that day she was again seen attacking chick 43, and by 5.00pm the Hawk and Owl Trust received a call from a member of the cathedral staff for say that 43 had been found dead in the Cathedral grounds it had suffered a severe eye injury.   The body was sent to a local vet for a post mortem the results are still to be confirmed.

On Friday evening (10th June) chick 41 fledged from the platform and was found on Saturday morning in the Upper Close.  After four attempts at putting her back on the Cathedral, she finally succumbed to the barrage of attacks from the new female forcing her to land on the pavement in Tombland.  The Hawk and Owl Trust staff decided to intervene as these were exceptional circumstances.  It was found that she had an open wound injury on her wing.  She is now being rehabilitated under the supervision of Neil Forbes one of the country’s top avian veterinary surgeons.

On Monday morning (13th June) at 5.21am, chick YY fledged from the platform and subsequently landed at ground level.  She was immediately put back on to the Cathedral only to be attacked by the new female and ended up on the ground, again a second attempt was made to place her back on the Cathedral, which also failed.  So a decision was made to take YY into care.

With a single chick 42 left on the platform, the hope was that the Tiercel could provide more food, enabling her to become strong enough to fledge and fly.  Sadly this was not to be and at  approx 9.15pm Monday evening the new female attacked chick 42, knocking her off of the platform, she was subsequently found dead on the Bell Tower roof this morning.  The behaviour of the new female has baffled  not only the Trust but also peregrine experts, it was widely known that adult female peregrines  and male will attack each other over territories but for adults to attack fledglings in juvenile plumage is very rare.

The Hawk and Owl Trust hasn’t taken the decision to bring birds in for rehabilitation lightly and it is on welfare grounds that this has been taken.  Once the remaining chicks (YY and 41) are fit and healthy, they will be released back in to the wild at a location here in Norfolk to allow for our male and females legacy from 2016 to live on.

Also as of midday on 14th June, the new female, GA, has been seen entering the nest box to consume a feed there.   This has shown to us here at the Hawk and Owl Trust that she has now asserted her dominance on what she now recognises as her territory on the Norwich Cathedral spire.  With evidence recently that our resident Tiercel has been seen to be showing bonding behaviour towards GA, there is now a possibility that she could be the new breeding female at Norwich Cathedral for 2017 onwards, but we will have to wait and see.

The Hawk and Owl Trust would like to take this opportunity to thank our followers online and on social media, the staff and volunteers at our Cathedral watch point and the cathedral community and staff for the resounding support during this very traumatic time.”

Thank you

Nigel Middleton – Hawk and Owl Trust Urban Peregrine Projects Co-ordinator

Tuesday 14th June 2016

Chick 42 seen tumbling off of the nesting platform as GA dives at her and knocks her off. (9.15pm on 13th June)
Chick 42 seen tumbling off of the nesting platform as GA dives at her and knocks her off. (9.15pm on 13th June)
Chick 41 seen on the Cathedral as of 7pm Saturday evening (11th June) before she was taken into care.  (Credit - Martin Lippiatt)
Chick 41 seen on the Cathedral as of 7pm Saturday evening (11th June) before she was taken into care. (Credit – Martin Lippiatt)
GA seen in the nest box at 12.13pm on Tuesday 14th June showing her dominance in her new territory.
GA seen in the nest box at 12.13pm on Tuesday 14th June showing her dominance in her new territory.

24 Responses to Norwich Cathedral Peregrines Update – Tuesday 14th June 2016

  1. That was so interesting to read .learning all about the behaviour of that female and how it’s quite unusual thank you all for that .ive so enjoyed watching from laying eggs till now .,I’ve also been watching Bath peregrines too and they still keep popping back to platform ,they are such beautiful birds .once again thank you one and all for what you do .

  2. Thank you so much for your full explanation of what happened. I have been following the nest since before the eggs were laid, and of course even more closely since last night. It’s so sad, and obviously behaviour that hasn’t been seen before, so valuable research. Good luck to 41 and YY once they are fit and ready to be released. And huge admiration to all at HOT who work so tirelessly for these wonderful birds.

  3. So sorry of the outcome,I really believed no 42 chick was going to make it.good luck to the other two,it has been a very interesting story,will look forward to 2017 in March.thanks once again.
    John Arts.

  4. Chick 42 should have been taken into care before this happened,that poor chick spent the whole of the day absolutely drenched and then gets taken out like this.How sad is that!

  5. Thank you for this information. It has been very interesting and stressful following this family. Looking forward to next year with hopefully less trauma

  6. So sorry to hear the sad news today, but this female behaviour is similar to the male lions who kill the cubs in order to mate with the lioness of a different pack! GA is obviously desperate to mate with our ‘Super Dad’. Do hope there is a happy ending for the remaining 2 juveniles. Keep up the excellent work.

  7. Such a shame it has ended this way. The children in my class will be so sad. We have watched since before the eggs. Hopefully YY and her sister will now be safe. Special thanks to Martin Lippiatt who visited us at school.
    Kind regards.

  8. Thank you so much for such a clear and concise explanation of events. Decisions must have been very difficult so well done on the interventions, next year will be interesting.

  9. Will we be kept informed as to the health of the to chicks thanks to all at hawk and owl for a very interesting few weeks.

  10. Hope the two chicks recover well and are safely released soon

    Thank you for the update and all the work the whole team have done to keep us updated over the last couple of months

    Seems strange behaviour is happening elsewhere too…s/201605100086 – in this case the female adult killed 3 chicks to feed to the other chick

  11. They have gone to a fantastic vet so I am sure their rehab will go well, thanks for the update

  12. Can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated the unfolding news. They must have been hard decisions to make each time there was an intervention, but all has been thought through with great knowledge and sensitivity and I can only join others in hoping for a successful outcome for the remaining birds.

  13. Thank you to all at HOT for clear explanation of events and for allyour work and care of these beautiful birds.

  14. What right have you to go against natural instinct. You would not do it for other birds.

  15. Messing with nature is no way to go and personally id rather the air full of bird song than these marauding murderers lets hope the nest gets struck by lightning while mummy and daddy are home and do the rest of the local bird life a favour

  16. So sad. The chicks battled through rain , wind and scorching sun without a spare parent to shelter them and had to fight for their food without being fed to mouth. Superdad battled on like a hero. I really did hope they would all survive and pass on their tenacious genes. Such a sad ending. Thanks for all you have done.

  17. Interfering with the balance of nature, these murderers shouldn’t be introduced in towns, they are rock face birds

  18. I know this seems terribly sad but maybe two out of four is an average rate of survival. This has been fascinating to follow. Good luck to the remaining chicks.

  19. I tend to agree with those who have said these birds are rock face birds, not townies!
    Perhaps they should be dissuaded from nesting in this place, so they find a more natural breeding ground.
    Most birds are territorial, even the common sparrow, in fact they can be extremely aggressive! But Peregrine are rock and rough landscape habitants, so they should be encouraged to go there.

  20. It sure will be interesting to see how well GA parents. With DNA like hers it sounds like some super predator perigrines are going to take over that area. I wonder why GA didn’t move in sooner. Perhaps she had just arrived. Where has she been the three years since her birth? Killing chicks wherever she goes? Drama. Why did she leave the male alone to feed? Why wouldn’t he go low to feed? These birds are beautiful beyond belief. They shouldn’t be forced out. They’ve existed on the entire planet long before humans had straw beds in dark and dingy caves. Millions of years.