News of the cathedral

In order to observe the behavior of the Peregrines after the chicks died, we decided to not turn off the 3 cameras filming the cathedral’s balcony and gargoyles. Here we describe what happened since April 29, illustrated with 5 videos.

In the recorded files the male continues to incubate the remnants of the chick that died previous night, until 11h18. At that hour, the female arrives with a completely feathered prey, although quite nibbled already. She obviously has not yet understood that there is nothing more to do for her. The male disappears. She stays in the nest for about 5 minutes and then leaves.

Directly after, the male returns. He no longer looks at the death chick, but heads over to one of the two unhatched eggs. He quibbles and suddenly raises a half-shell! Did he just break it? Probably. He eats the albumin ("egg white") that is dripping out. The egg was thus not fertilized. It is interesting information. He then leaves with the piece of shell in his beak, returning within the next minute. He looks at the chick, touches it with the tip of his beak and then heads for the remaining half-shell. He again eats the albumin and then eliminates the rest of the egg. Astonishing!

Around noon, the female returns, she stays on the nest for about thirty minutes, leaves, then returns stays a few moments, and then leaves again at 12h56. She returns at 14h32. Carefully, she touches the chick with her beak, watches it for long minutes and then, grabs it with the tip of her beak and carries it away. Why this behaviour, clearly dictated by instinct!?

In the afternoon, the female Peregrine came back twice, for a few minutes each time. The next day too. Hence, it is mainly the male that appears in the picture. He comes several times a day. He is turning around the remaining egg. By the way, why didn't he break that one? But above all, he begins to scrape out a nest! He is turning round and round, shuffling his body scratching the ground with his claws so as to form a cuvette! This behavior has already been observed in the male who nested until 2018, but only after the fledging of the chick.

Will the Peregrine couple still come back to visit the nest? Perhaps. Will the female lay another cutch this spring? Certainly not. A second clutch can happen in case the first fails. But if chicks are born and then lost, the cycle is finished for that year.

A new step will now begin. Essential in the life of each bird. The female, and then the male, will start to moult in order to completely renew their plumage. The process will last several weeks. The feathers wear through the effect of mechanical wear (by rubbing against each other) and chemical wear (UV effect). It is therefore a question of replacing them every year in order to guarantee a plumage allowing the incredible Peregrine’s flight capacity! But that’s rather difficult to film and stream. And yet, we wish we could!



Video 1: The male eats and takes away the first part of the shell of one of the two un-hatched eggs.

Video 2: The male eats and takes away the second part of the shell of one of the two un-hatched eggs.

Video 3: The female eliminates the body of the chick.

Video 4: The female returns to the nest.

Video 5: Amazing male shuffling and scraping behavior!