Our Feathery Residents

There have been breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons at Pear Mill for over 40 years.

Peregrine Falcons

The peregrine is a large and powerful falcon. It has long, broad, pointed wings and a relatively short tail. It is blue grey above, with a blackish top of the head and an obvious black ‘moustache’ that contrasts with its white face. Its breast is finely barred. It is swift and agile in flight, chasing prey.

The strongholds of the breeding birds in the UK are the uplands of the north and west and rocky seacoasts. Peregrines were at a low point in the 1960s due to human persecution and the impact of pesticides in the food chain. Improved legislation and protection have helped the birds to recover, and they have now expanded into many urban areas.

The Peregrines diet

The peregrine feeds primarily on birds, which it catches in flight. It spots the prey at distance and, once positioned correctly, it stoops at speeds of up to 180 kph for the catch. To enable the bird to breathe at this speed, it has special baffles in its nostrils, which control breathing.

Feral pigeons are favourite prey wherever they are freely available, though a wide range of birds are taken, ranging in size from goldcrest to woodpigeon. The larger females take larger prey than males. This generalist diet allows peregrines to exist wherever there are good mixed bird populations. They sometimes take mammals, and there are records of occasional amphibians, lizards and large insects.

The Nest Site

The nest site, known as an eyrie, is usually on a grassy or earthen cliff-ledge, quarry or other inaccessible undisturbed location. Buildings and other constructions are increasingly being used. Old nests of other species such as ravens are used elsewhere in the world, but rarely in the UK.
The nest itself is a slight scrape in earth or old debris on the nest ledge. No material is brought in to build a nest. The female forms the scrape using her chest and legs.

The female normally lays a clutch of three or four eggs in late March or April at 2-3 day intervals. Both birds share the incubation, which begins with the last or penultimate egg, and takes 29-32 days per egg.

The Hatching Period

The chicks hatch over a period of a couple of days, and have smaller size differences than chicks of most raptor species. Most of the brooding and feeding of small young is carried out by the female, while the male hunts to supply the food. After the first couple of weeks, the female shares the hunting.

The young fledge at 35-42 days, and are independent two or more months later. During this time, the adult peregrines teach the young to hunt and handle prey in flight. Less than a third of peregrines reach breeding age. Those that do can expect to live 5-6 years. The oldest known peregrine was more than 16 years old.

Installation of Nest

In January 2019 we had a nesting box installed high up on the side of the Mill in the hope that the Peregrines would find it and use it instead of using spaces in the side of the mill wall.

This was successful and in Spring 2019 there were 4 eggs laid. 3 of these hatched and we had 3 healthy chicks who all grew up and fledged. All the chicks are tagged so that they can be recorded if they appear anywhere else in the country.

In December 2019 we had a camera installed on the wall of the mill so that anyone could watch the breeding, laying, hatching and fledging of the babies.

Two boys and a girl

2020 – Four eggs were laid this year and all hatched but unfortunately the smallest one died. There had been a gap of approximately one week between the third and fourth eggs being laid and subsequently hatching and we think that the smallest one could not fight for enough food.

2021 – Another four eggs but again sadly only 3 hatched. 2 boys and a girl again. They all grew and fledged successfully. Well apart from one having a detour on their maiden flight and landing on a fires escape, he was recovered and placed on the roof of the mill. His sister then flew around the side of the mill on her maiden flight and had an overnight rest on the low roof above the main stairs entrance much to peoples amazement when they visited the mill that day.

Peregrine Falcon Camera App

Installation Instructions

  • Download app: MaxxOneElite
  • Create Account – click Sign Up
  • Enter email address and click verify
  • Enter verify code that was emailed to you – press Enter
  • Enter a password – tick to agree and press sign up
  • Press menu (3 lines at top left) – choose devices
  • + Add
  • Select scan
  • Scan the barcode on other attachment
  • Sharing password – pearmill2019
  • You should now be able to view the Peregrine Falcon nest live.