Peter the Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcons are the world’s fastest birds. Able to dive at speeds of over 200 mph when pursuing their prey, the falcons are an amazing sight. Unfortunately, their impressive speed does not prevent them from being shot. Numbers declined during the 19th and 20th centuries due to illegal killing by humans. Numbers have since increased, reaching pre-decline levels in the late 1990's. However, numbers have been slower to recover in the east & southeast of England, with numbers thought to be declining again in Northern Scotland. On the other side of the argument, many pigeon fanciers have asked for their legal protection to be removed due to the numbers of racing pigeons being attacked by birds of prey.
Falcons Breed Again after 60 Years
Peter is a peregrine falcon who hatched at Salisbury Cathedral in 2014. He was one of a handful of the birds which hatched there after a period of 60 years without any new arrivals. Peter was, therefore, ringed to identify him.
Sadly Peter was found injured in the village of King Somborne, Hampshire on March 11th this year. He was taken to the nearby Hawk Conservancy Trust where a vet examined him and discovered that he had been shot. Peter was suffering from a fractured wing. The Trust took him in and nursed him back to health. After his two month stay, Peter was released back into the wild 23 May.
Reward for Information
Peregrine falcons are amazing birds and it is always a privilege to see them. But there are people who like to shoot or poison birds of prey and occasionally the Usain Bolts of the sky become victims of these attacks. It isn’t known who shot Peter but the RSPB are asking anyone with information to contact their investigations department on 01767 680551. You can also report any attacks on birds of prey online. There is a £1000 for anyone who can provide information which leads to a conviction in the shooting of Peter.
Peregrine numbers are at potential risk of declining again in certain areas of the UK because they are being persecuted in the natural habitats and so have been driven to colonise urban areas where they are now also under attack.
It is a criminal offence to harm or kill birds of prey but that isn’t stopping the offenders. According to the RSPB, there are thought to be around 1500 pairs of peregrine falcons in the UK many of which now live in urban areas where they use tall buildings as nesting sites and vantage points.
Have you ever seen a peregrine falcon? Let us know where and when you were fortunate enough to see one of these magnificent birds.