So after yesterday’s repeated falcon fails, I thought I’d take a stroll past York Minster on the way home this evening on the off-chance. Inevitably, a Peregrine was sitting happily preening in the evening sun.
This bird is the tercel (or tiercel), the male bird. Smaller than the female. The word tercel comes from the Latin for ‘third’ and, depending on the source, is a reference to the belief that only the third egg hatches a male. Alternatively, it may be due to the male being roughly a third the size of the female.
Whatever the exact etymology (the study of the origin of words), we have such an unusual term because of the sport of falconry. We tend only to have such distinctive names for males and females for birds we have engaged with, either as food, or in hunting.
Unfortunately he was a way up, and I didn’t have my most powerful camera with me (though still better than the last Peregrine shots I shared). But I still got a fair few shots of him taking care of his plumage.
There wasn’t a huge amount of evidence around the base of the tower for what they have been eating. Sometimes you will get lucky and find substantial remains for identification, but today there was nothing beyond a few pigeon feathers.
There was something else there though:
Well, no. Peregrine eggs are brown. This is a pigeon egg. Which is no suprise as the Minster had a healthy pigeon population long before the Peregrines settled. As you can see.
There is the Peregrine at the top, and just below we can spot three pigeons! Someone asked me if they were living dangerously, but in fact this is a fairly safe spot for them. Peregrines take prey almost exclusively on the wing. So a pigeon can pretty much cosy up next to the falcon with a high degree of safety. So it’s arguable, as far as Peregrine predation goes, these are York’s safest pigeons!
I will return to the peregrines in future posts, especially when/if the chicks (or eyas‘) hatch. For now, a few more images from this evening.