The hatchlings are here!

A first falcon hatched this morning around 06:37 at the top of the north tower of the Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula in the center of Brussels. Watch video excerpt 1 here! The camera still films in infra-red, so the images are in black and white. The female falcon rises slightly; we see an open shell and two little feet beat the air. The falcon is still partly in its shell, but makes a final push. It's time to get out!

At 10:44, the female gets up and leaves the nest. The hatchling is slouching, exhausted. Its down is still partially wet. The male immediately relays his partner. He covers the little falcon and the three eggs still hatching, for more than two hours. Peregrine males actively participate in brooding and rearing younglings. And this is particularly the case with the couple of Peregrines of the cathedral. These two have been nesting together since the spring of 2010. This is the ninth brood they raise together.

 

At 13:01, she returns! The male leaves on his tiptoes. An hour later, The female gets up – always very carefully so as to not hurt her youngling or scratch her eggs – and leaves the nest. The little falcon is finally visible (video 2)! Two minutes later, mother Peregrine returns with a plucked sparrow in her left paw. It's time for the first feeding!

We have the opportunity to observe something really exceptional at the cathedral. This female Pilgrim, is among the eldest of her kind. Additionally, she is rearing a new brood and this is obviously unique! The German ornithologists, who banded it on 15/05/2002, when she was still a hatchling, are formal: the fertility of the Pilgrims decreases drastically with age and older falcons simply do not breed anymore.

In Uccle, the family is expanding! A second falcon came out of its shell while A third egg must still hatch. The fourth egg, observed at the beginning of March, is no longer visible. Has it been discarded? If it was laid in late February, when temperatures (briefly) reached -8 ° C in Brussels, it is possible  that it froze, with forseeable consequences. If you pass through Saint Job's Square, do look up at the top of the bell tower. There at the very top, a Peregrine Falcon holds watch most of the time. Not to be confused with the wind-vane! Observation sessions of the Uccle Pilgrims will be organized on April 18, May 6, May 13 and May 23. On each occasion, we’ll meet at 16:30 in Saint Job’s Square. It will be possible to observe the Pilgrim adults in "real life", thanks to powerful binoculars.

Meanwhile ; the couple of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre are still brooding. The hatching is expected to take place next week. Patience!

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