The death of the smallest peregrine chick at Norwich Cathedral yesterday came as a sad surprise to all of us, even though we know that life for young peregrines is tenuous at this stage of their development.
We have gone through the recorded footage for clues as to why it died but can still only speculate. All 4 looked fit and well the previous evening and we know that they have good, capable parents.
The fact that the chick was youngest by 2 full days would have made it tough for it, but not impossible. Natural ‘pecking order’ means it would not get priority at feeding time, although it seemed to be getting adequate. The tipping point would probably have been the poor weather overnight. Although the chick appeared reasonably dry in the morning, the wind was strong and would have chilled it unless it was well covered. The others, being stronger, would have been more able to ensure they got the warmest spots under their mother, at the expense of the little one.
This is all speculation of course and in truth we will never know for sure. It does not take much to tip the balance from life to death in the first few days of their lives. Painful as it is for us to watch this is the way it is for all wild creatures.
We know that the female initially tried in vain to revive the little chick by keeping it warm with the others, but finally removed it from the nest around 8.00am yesterday morning.
The three remaining chicks all looked fit and well this morning at 05:15am when the male came in to take over brooding.