The original falcon
We’re watching the falcons breeding on top of the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral in the heart of Brussels daily for over a month now. But not all peregrine falcons breed on cathedrals! Originally they built their nest only on cliffs. Throughout the centuries, and as a consequence of the dominance of man on planet Earth, the peregrine falcon began making other choices. He first chose side walls carved out by man in quarries. Then he installed himself on buildings made by humans, such as cathedral, viaducts or the highest buildings (cooling towers of electricity and nuclear plants, industrial chimneys, appartment blocks).
In Belgium there are just over 20 peregrine couples that breed on a natural cliff or in a quarry. This represents half of the couples nesting in Wallonia. In Flanders there are no natural cliffs where peregrine falcons can breed. There are about forty couples there, and they have built their nest in artificial sites.
The Meuse valley is a magnificent region, one of the most beautiful in Belgium. The cliffs along the stream reach a height of up to 120 meters, the highest of the country! A paradise for the original falcon. Several couples are breeding there. The families of Freyr and Furfooz were visited in the last few days. Each nest has 4 falcons; both consist of 2 males and 2 females. We also took a look at another, smaller nesting site. It seems to harbour the same male of 2010 and 2011, with just one chick being raised. But the female is new; she's not yet full-grown and was born in 2011. Her plumage has not fully developed yet; brown on the back and a striped brown on the throat. Just like the plumage of the chicks of the cathedral, except for the fact that her colours are bleached by the sun. Today the male seemed to brood while the female was crying incessantly. Did she actually lay the egg? Is the male breeding while the inexperienced female spends more time in the air than on her nest? Will the brooding attempt succeed? You'll get an update the next time we visit the High Meuse!