More news from Woluwe-Saint-Pierre

The three falcons of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre will obviously not be joined by a fourth. The last egg has not yet hatched and it seems now illusory to hope, 4 days after the outbreak of the third, that this will still happen. But it is one of the eldest that now leaves us puzzled.

By viewing the images of the cathedral cameras recorded during the brooding, we encounter a surprise! On April 1 at 17:39, a Peregrine Falcon makes a crash landing on one of the gargoyles (video). What a funny behaviour! This falcon, clearly a male, shows an unusual clumsiness and moreover, it seems panicked. On closer inspection, its plumage does not match that of the male of the cathedral. One reflex: look at his paws. It has, clearly visible, a black ring engraved with a white code on the left leg! This is not the male of the cathedral since he only has a metal ring! For 6 minutes, this Peregrine with striped plumage on the chest, observes its environment. He does not look very comfortable. He looks left, right, down, up. He ruffles his plumage, and then straightens it. Peregrine Stress? Yes, without a doubt. Peregrines are very territorial birds during the nesting season. And this male must have spotted that there are a couple of fellow falcons nearby. Fortunately for him, it is mostly females who fight and exclude each other, with sometimes deadly fights. There are some almost every year in Belgium. The fact remains that males are less bellicose, probably because they are generally smaller than females. Their weight is in fact between 600 and 650 g while that of females reaches 1100 g. The intruder of the day will finally be spotted because at 17:45, after scanning the sky and showing some concern, he takes off. A few seconds later, the female from the cathedral lands on the stone ornament. She is at home and it shows! She also scours the surroundings. And then, she calms down, ruffles her feathers and makes her toilet.

What is the link with Woluwe-Saint-Pierre?  A direct one: the male intruder who stopped for a few minutes at the cathedral is one of the first two falcons that hatched at the top of the tower of the town hall, in the spring of 2014. He had never been observed since. And this is the first time that we have had tidings of one of the 8 falcons that have so far flown from this site.

Interesting observation, therefore, which shows that Peregrine males do not generally move far away from their place of birth. The distance between the cathedral and the tower of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre is exactly 4.9 km. Of course, we can’t be sure that since its first flight, this falcon has not left Brussels. But today, he is old enough to reproduce. Obviously he is not doing so. Since otherwise, he indubitably wouldn’t appear in "enemy" territory. He is therefore more than likely in search of a territory and a partner. It is probably by flying over the city that he spotted the cathedral ; an ideal nesting site with its multiple balconies and gargoyles. No luck, the place is taken!

The literature speaks of an average distance of 18 km between the hatching site and the place where the young male will settle for nesting. The data collected in Belgium and particularly in Brussels contribute to this knowledge of the Peregrine Falcon ecology. The breeding male of the cathedral is a good example since it was hatched on the spot in the spring of 2008! Dispersion distance = 0 km.