Yes, peregrine falcons are protected in the UK by law. An excellent example of that protection is currently published in today’s The Times newspaper. Network Rail are refurbishing the grade II listed Britannia Bridge which links mainland Wales with Anglesey. They have stopped refurbishing the central Britannia tower because an eagle-eyed birdwatcher spotted a peregrine falcon near this tower. Bird experts were consulted. They noticed that the behaviour of the male peregrine indicated a nest of eggs or chicks on that tower.
There are three towers called Anglesey, Britannia and Caernarfon. Work will continue on the other towers. The bridge was completed in 1850. It was designed by Robert Stevenson and it crosses the Menai Strait. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1970.
Peregrine falcons are known to favour high spots. They’ve nested in Salisbury Cathedral and the BT Tower in Birmingham. James Campbell an ecological consultant at Whitcher Wildlife was called out to monitor the falcons. He has been advising network Rail. He said: “After a few visits to the bridge, it soon became clear that a solitary peregrine falcon was roosting, preening and hunting from the central tower. It was displaying the typical field signs of an adult male, defending the nesting site and tending to feed the female peregrine falcon on the nest.”
Access to the tower to confirm the existence of eggs has proved impossible. However, the behavioural signals are clear. It is believed that the chicks will leave the nest in August at the earliest. They will continue monitoring the site.
Females normally lay 3 to 4 eggs in late March or April at intervals according to the RSPB. Incubation normally takes just over a month. The chicks hatch over a couple of days. The male hunts for food while the female does the brooding and feeding.
Young peregrine falcons fledge at 35-42 days. They are independent about two months later. Adults teach their young to hunt and handle prey in flight. Campbell said that network Rail have done everything asked of them. They have followed recommendations.
Legal protections of the peregrine falcon has helped populations to grow since the 1960s when they reached an historic low. The birds have expanded into urban areas.