A global audience of online birdwatchers are celebrating after the highest number of peregrine chicks in eight years were born in Sheffield.
Last week’s successful hatching of four eggs came as an unexpected surprise after adverse conditions left many pessimistic.
While the eggs were laid earlier this year, a younger peregrine displaced the long-standing male and father of the new chicks, leaving the eggs exposed to the cold for several hours and at risk of failing.
Chris Greenwood, trustee of Sheffield Bird Study Group, said he wasn’t sure the eggs were going to hatch in the nest which is located on the roof of St George’s Church. This is part of the university campus and has been home to peregrines since 2012.
The birds were initially attracted to the building due to the ledges and decorations on the roof, which emulate the shapes of their native cliffs and crags.
Mr Greenwood said: “Whether you’re a person or an animal, if your partner gets chucked out and someone else takes their place, that would be traumatic to some degree.
“When nature declines so much, I think it’s a really good thing to have. It educates people, it gives them a bit of comfort and it engages them with nature.”
People from across the world will be able to track the birds’ growth online on a stream which has attracted viewers from as far as Canada, America and parts of Africa. It is operated on a volunteer basis by members of university staff.
The nest is tracked by a webcam for 24 hours each day. After the first egg hatched last Tuesday, the fourth was spotted on the livestream on Friday.
A Twitter user was the first to notice the latest addition. She wrote: “It seemed really lucky that even one hatched after all the shenanigans!”
Within a number of days the chicks are expected to double in size before developing their fluffy white weathers and they will take their first flights in mid-June before leaving the nest for good in September.
The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on the planet and, after steep declines in the 1950s and 60s, it took 30 years for the species to reach its pre-decline figures in Britain.
For updates, visit: https://sheffieldperegrines.wordpress.com
Featured image by Chris Greenwood.