Friday, 22 February 2013

Sex on the Peregrines' minds!

It is that time of the year again - Peregrines are thinking about sex.
Bristol Peregrines: Sam Hobson

Peregrines in urban areas have already been spotted mating, although eggs won't be laid until the middle or end of March. In Bristol, Sam has spotted the city centre pair mating over the past few weeks. It is a great way for the pair to strengthen their bond, and for the male to make sure that when the eggs are laid, he is the daddy! 

While Peregrines usually nest in pairs, they will sometimes nip off to mate with other Peregrines - this is known as extra pair copulations, and is common in the bird world from Great tits to Swallows. So, a female's clutch of eggs may not always be fathered by her mate.  For her, it is a great way of making sure her young have the best genes possible, while also having a devoted partner to help her rear them!
Bristol Peregrines in the act: Sam Hobson
On sunny days, Peregrines will also be displaying overhead - lots of soaring, circling, and spectacular dives may be in the offering. While at the nest, the female may be testing things out by shuffling around where the eggs will be laid. You may also hear the pair calling to each other - recently described as 'ee-chupping' by the Derby Peregrines Project, the pair may cheap away, giving the odd light grunt in between.

In terms of prey, the Bristol Peregrines have been feasting on Feral Pigeons, Woodpigeons, and the odd Teal throughout February. As we get into March, prey species migrating back to their breeding grounds, such as Redwings, Woodcock, and Water Rail, will begin to appear in the diet again. The male may even impress the female by bringing her some food, and transferring it to her in the air. It is his way of telling her that he is a good provider, and that he will make sure her and the chicks will be taken care of when they need to be fed. 

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