Peregrine chicks on the nest tray after being ringed on 27 May. Image by Keith Smith

Herts Breeding Peregrine Co-ordinator, Barry Trevis gives us a first-hand account of ringing the Peregrine Falcon chicks at St Albans Cathedral, and reveals some exciting news about the Cathedral’s very first chick, Artemis.

When a Peregrine chick was bred for the first time on St Albans Cathedral in May 2022, as a licensed bird-ringer/nest recorder and holder of a government license to visit the nests of this specially protected species, I ringed the young female bird which was seen to successfully fledge the nest in late June of 2022. We were then delighted to see the Peregrines return to breed again in 2023 and they raised three young, all males, which I ringed on 1 June in that year.

On Bank Holiday Monday 27 May 2024, now with another three chicks in the nest tray, I went with colleagues to the nest and carried out the ringing of them, just three weeks after they had hatched. We know from the webcam live-stream that the parents have looked after them well, so when we checked them over we saw that they were all in good condition. We fitted a ring on each of their legs. One is a British Trust for Ornithology metal ring, a bit like a license tag, the other is a larger ring which is coloured orange with black lettering which means we’ll be able to track them in years to come.

Quite reasonably many people ask why do we need to ring birds? Well, if we don’t put rings on these birds we don’t know much about their origins or their future. We see birds sitting around, they turn up at nests or whatever and we have no idea where they came from, how old they are, who they are. However, those with the colour-rings which can be read from a distance let us know exactly who each bird is. That means we have a much better idea of how long they live, their movements around the UK and even abroad, along with their relationships as sometimes they might not get on and split up or have mishaps, so the ringing gives us a way of tracking the family trees of Peregrines going forward.

In addition to fitting the rings we also took measurements which from these, particularly their weights, we can ascertain the sex of each bird as female Peregrines are much larger than males. On Monday we concluded that we have two females, known technically as ‘Falcons’ and a male, known as a ‘Tiercel’.

Peregrine chicks being fed in the nest after ringing on 27 May 2024

Although one can never be sure whether all of the young falcons will make it to the flying stage we are very hopeful that this latest Cathedral three will fledge from their nest ledge about the end of the third week of June and will be seen around the area for some months to come before finding their own way further afield.

Breaking News: Artemis Re-sighted!

The first-ever Peregrine that was bred at St Albans Cathedral was ringed on 9 June 2022 which included an orange colour-ring showing digits on the ring TZV. Shortly after ringing, the female bird was given the name ‘Artemis’ by public vote. She flew from the nest in early July and was seen with her parents around the cathedral a few times during that summer.

Our first Peregrine chick Artemis - Image by Patrick Wainwright

I have recently received a ‘Recovery Report’ from the British Trust for Ornithology, that she has been re-sighted flying near the church in the coastal village of Winterton-on-Sea in Norfolk, with another Peregrine on 14 April 2024. This was 675 days since she was ringed and is 106 miles away from St Albans.

If there are any more sightings reported I will, of course, be sharing the news with the Trust and the team at St Albans Cathedral.

Barry Trevis, Herts Breeding Peregrine Co-ordinator

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