News from the nest of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre

The family Peregrines installed at the top of the tower of the town hall of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre counts this spring two falcons. However, the female had laid four eggs in early March. What happened? Is this normal?

The Peregrine falcons we discover are 100% wild animals that settle absolutely naturally in Brussels. And that makes their observation so fascinating. Because what we discover is Nature, with a big N. We are not in a zoo! In Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, as everywhere in Belgium, Peregrines have settled naturally. They must find food, defend themselves from the dangers of life, protect their little ones, adapt to the vicissitudes of the weather, defend their territory, etc. etc. And why all this? To live. To develop their lineage, their family, their species. The Peregrines we observe are one piece of the gigantic "puzzle" that makes up the cycle of life that has been developing on planet Earth for 3.5 billion years! No need to tell you that this cycle has been badly undermined in recent decades. The main threats are the disappearance of natural habitats, replaced by agricultural monoculture areas sprayed with pesticides and the development of concreting in urbanised areas. Added to this is the artificial warming of the climate, which causes evolutions at a rate that many animal species will have very difficult to adapt. Not to mention the threat that this obviously represents for human populations! Not funny!

So what about the Peregrines of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre? It is in 2014 that a pair has nested for the first time in this commune. It turns out that the male is ringed, which allows us to know that he was born in 2012. Peregrines are mature at 2 years. In 2014, this male was just able to reproduce. And he did it. Already a great sign! 2019, still the same male that nests in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre. Situation again perfect, this Peregrine is 7 year this spring. He finds in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre a perfect environment to live. The female is not ringed, so we do not know if it is the same that has been nesting since 2014. No way  to assess its survival rate.

In 2014, the female laid two eggs. Two falcons hatched. Both fledged. 100% success for this first year. In 2015, three eggs, three hatches, three falcons fledging, 100% success again. In 2016, the female laid 4 eggs, three falcons hatched and 3 fledged. An egg did not hatch. It was not fertilised. Nothing special. In 2017, there was a real problem. Four eggs laid, two falcons hatched and quickly died. Without explanation. It was an abnormal phenomenon, but it could not be identified with certainty. Perhaps the falcons have died after eating a poisoned prey? 2018, 4 eggs, 3 hatches, 3 fledglings. 2019, 4 eggs laid and 2 falcons hatched. On the images of this spring, we could see that a chick could not completely break the shell and thus hatch. The fourth egg will be examined at the time the nest is visited to ring the falcons to try to determine the cause of the non-hatching.

In summary, the Peregrine pair from Woluwe-Saint-Pierre have nestled every year since their arrival in 2014. Not counting this spring, the female has laid 17 eggs, of which 13 hatched and 11 falcon chicks (6 males and 5 females) fledged. Not bad at all !

By the way, do we have news of the 11 falcons from Woluwe-Saint-Pierre? Yes! Two females hatched in 2015, so two sisters, were observed on the same church in Hoboken (Antwerp). One was spotted for the first time in spring 2017 and nestled there last year. She was no longer seen this spring; another female came to replace her but nesting failed. The second was photographed a few days ago, April 22 precisely, by a passionate observer of Peregrines. She was accompanied by an immature male born in the spring of 2018 at the Notre-Dame church of Sint Niklaas in East Flanders.

 Long live the Peregrine Falcons of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre!


Photo 1: One of the first photos of the Peregrine pair of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre during its installation in 2014 (photo DV).

Photo 2: Two of the falcon chicks of the brood 2016 (photo DV).

 Photo 3: The two falcon chicks 2019 with their mother.

Photo 4: A female of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre spotted with her ring on April 22 (photo Maarten Mortier).