The Peregrine Falcons at the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula
The Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula, whose construction began 1000 years ago*, stands in the center of Brussels, near the famous Grand Place! It is one of the most magnificent and therefore most visited buildings in the city. Since the Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, almost 4 years ago to the day, the number of foreign visitors has multiplied again!
But, for almost 20 years, the cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudula has been home to a new treasure: a nest of Peregrine Falcons!
It was in April 2004. A couple of Peregrines came to settle at the top of the north tower of the cathedral; a couple of Peregrines nesting in the heart of Brussels which has (at that time) one million (human) inhabitants!
Since then, 3 female and at least 3 male Peregrines have succeeded each other at the cathedral. The decryption of the code engraved on the scientific rings, via cameras or thanks to a powerful telescope, allows this count. Banding, in Belgium and well beyond, allows us to know that nesting Peregrines are extremely faithful to their nesting site, they return there year after year. But they are not immortal. When an adult is not seen again the following spring, it is more than likely dead or... prevented from nesting.
The female Peregrine who currently nests at the cathedral was observed for the first time on the building on 03/16/2019. She is ringed, which indicates that she was hatched in the spring of 2016, in Frimmersdorf, Germany. The distance from Brussels is 155 km. The male, on the other hand, is a local: he hatched at the top of the Saint Guidon collegiate church in Anderlecht, less than 4 km from the cathedral. The nest in Anderlecht is located almost at the top of the spire that adorns the tower of the collegiate church. It is therefore impossible to access and therefore to ring the falcons. One of them, in the spring of 2017, missed its first flight and was recovered by the Brussels Fire Brigade to be then entrusted to the Care Center of the Royal League for the Protection of Birds. Not being injured, he was released and … banded the same day.
Anyway, this couple, which is still united this spring, did not nest in the spring of 2019, lost its two chicks in the spring of 2020, raised one juvenile falcon in 2021 and another juvenile in 2022. This couple is therefore not very productive, unlike the one that nested between 2006 and 2018 at the cathedral. We will talk about that one again!
This year, the female from Frimmersdorf laid… one egg! It was March 9. The brooding extends over 32 days. The hatching of this single egg is therefore expected in the next few days. Patience !
* To find out more about the history and current events of the Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudula => https://www.cathedralisbruxellensis.be/en
Blog 09042023 video 1. The female, who hatched in spring 2016 in Frimmersdorf (Germany), replaces the male, who hatched in Anderlecht in 2017.
Blog 09042023 video 2. The male lands on his favorite gargoyle atop the north tower of the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula.