Soon the eggs at the ULB will hatch!

The Peregrine pair which nest on the Solbosch campus, at the top of the bell tower of the historic building of the University of Brussels (ULB), has been there since 2019.

Unlike other Peregrine pairs, its territory is in between urbanized areas to the east and wooded areas to the west. It will do to cross Avenue Franklin Roosevelt to fly over the Bois de la Cambre which forms a continuum with the Forêt de Soignes to Waterloo for more than 10 km! Does this Peregrine pair benefit from the proximity to these natural areas? We don't know, because when they fly, Peregrines are very difficult to follow! And if a Peregrine Falcon is observed above the Bois de la Cambre, it is completely illusory to be able to conclude that it is indeed one of the occupants of the ULB. This could be a Peregrine falcon which is still nomadic, either because he is immature or because he is still looking for a territory. Or it could be the partner of another nesting pair. Especially since, another particularity of the ULB couple, they are the ones who have the closest “neighbour” among the Peregrine couples in Brussels. Another family of Peregrines has been based since at least 2010 in the office tower erected at the end of Avenue Louise, on the Bois de la Cambre side. The two sites are 900 m apart. Such proximity is quite exceptional. Hence, this is not the only couple of Pilgrims installed in a modern building in Brussels.

Let’s get back to the ULB couple. As their scientific rings indicate, the partners have been the same since the first nesting in 2019. The female is now 10 years old. She was born 106 km from the Solbosch campus, in the Netherlands, in Sittard, precisely on an industrial tower not far from Maastricht, in the Meuse valley.

The male was hatched in April 2012 at the Notre-Dame church in Laeken. This nesting was very special! The brood was discovered on the afternoon of May 12, by chance, on a balcony of the building, just below the majestic dome which covers the royal crypt. Nest discovered “by chance”? Yes ! Because these were workers who were putting up scaffolding, who found themselves face to face with 4 falcons who were not happy to see these visitors arriving! And what about the falcon parents, especially the mother, who constantly alarmed in order to chase away the intruders and their metal forest! But all is well that ends well, the organization of the work was immediately adapted and the brood fledged successfully. And so, it is one of these 4 falcons who, 7 years later, started a family in Solbosch.

This year, the ULB female Peregrine laid 4 eggs. It returned to “normal” compared to the exceptional laying of 5 eggs in 2022 and 2023. The first 2024 egg was laid on March 18. Brooding typically began with the laying of the third, on March 21. Male and female take turns on the eggs as shown in the attached videos. Incubation in Peregrines lasts 32 days. Almost!

Video 1 March 17, the female will lay her first egg the next day; the male comes to offer him a blue tit.

Video 2 Return of the female to the nest.

Video 3 The male incubates, the female comes to take over, but she is slow to incubate the eggs.

Video 4 Brooding is coming to an end, the female returns to brood.