A male peregrine falcon’s efforts to protect his eggs ended in tragedy after a chick hatched on top of St George’s church died yesterday evening.
This came after he had to single-handedly fend off an intruder of his own kind and bring food for the injured mother falcon, all while sitting on the eggs.
Bird enthusiasts who have been monitoring the progress daily via a special webcam installed by the University of Sheffield took to Twitter to express their disappointment with the latest tragedy.
Forget Line of Duty and Game of Thrones, this is pure drama, and a happy ending looks increasingly unlikely 😢 https://t.co/t1i5xCDWy1
— Sheffield Peregrines (@SheffPeregrines) May 6, 2019
News that a pair of falcons has laid four eggs first broke by jubilant bird enthusiasts on April 4 (Thursday).
— Wendy Scott (@Wendspix1) April 4, 2019
🎶 I lay, I lay, I lay 🎶 pic.twitter.com/KdAus4ARir
— Sheffield Peregrines (@SheffPeregrines) April 29, 2019
However, the first signs of trouble were raised on May 2 (Thursday) after another Peregrine falcon was spotted trying to disrupt the peace.
— Gillian Daniels (@GilliDaniels) May 2, 2019
Netizens later observed that the female falcon was injured.
@SheffPeregrines Here is the footage showing MrsP's struggles to collect & deal with the prey brought by Mr P … unfortunately I did not get footage of her flying off with it at least a further five minutes after my footage ended … https://t.co/QCg0xF5Qax
— wendy bartter (@wendy_bartter) May 5, 2019
But daddy falcon refused to give up on his eggs, drawing praise from concerned netizens.
I saw this. Mr P was guarding those eggs. I’m amazed he stuck it out so long. He really is doing the best he can under such difficult circumstances. The intruder obviously was not going to budge.
— Wendy Scott (@Wendspix1) May 7, 2019
While the intruder persisted around the eggs for days, netizens expressed a mix of hope and despair whether the chicks would be hatched.
Yes the eggs should be hatching about now, but the parents have spent so much time fighting off intruders that I wonder if they will actually hatch. Quite distressing to watch at times. 😢
— Wendy Scott (@Wendspix1) May 6, 2019
Brave ,little male keeps coming back for his chicks ,imagine what chaos it would have been if chicks had hatched 😭😭😭😭
— christine roper (@chrisitneroper) May 6, 2019
A chick was hatched yesterday evening.
— Louise Adam (@LouiseAdam16) May 7, 2019
But joys turned to sorrows after it was pronounced dead minutes later.
— Dr Christine Sexton (@cloggingchris) May 7, 2019
— Jilliano (@Jilliano) May 7, 2019
Sightings of Peregrine falcons in the Sheffield skies is a common occurrence.
In a joint effort by the University of Sheffield and the Sheffield Bird Study Group, Peregrines successfully bred for the first time in 2012 on a platform on St George’s church.