Peregrine chicks saved after parents found illegally killed

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(RSPB 8 June 2017; Photo: Chris Gomersall)

  • Police suspect adult birds were deliberately poisoned
  • Smallest chick to feature on tonight’s Springwatch 
Three peregrine falcon chicks, which were rescued from a nest in Shropshire after their parents were found dead, have found new foster homes.
The RSPB’s Investigations Unit was called to Clee Hill quarry on 31 May after a dead adult peregrine falcon was discovered on the ground, leaving a nest of three young chicks dependent and vulnerable. On attending the scene, the RSPB found a second body, thought to be the bird’s mate.

A specialist climber abseiled down the cliff to rescue the orphan chicks. They were examined by a local vet then cared for by a specialist rehabilitator in Yorkshire and have now found new homes in foster nests in the wild. Two chicks are being placed into a nest in the Midlands, while the third, smaller chick – a male – will be fostered by the Salisbury Cathedral peregrines, as featured on BBC’s Springwatch.

The dead parent birds have been sent for post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death. A dead pigeon found beside the bodies has also been sent for analysis.

West Mercia Police Wildlife Crime Officer PC David Walton said: “We urge anyone with information about the death of these magnificent birds to come forward, quoting incident ref 0676 S 30/5/17.

“I believe that, had it not been for the fast action of all parties working together, we would have certainly lost the chicks as well as the adults, which look to have been poisoned.”
There are thought to be around 1500 pairs of peregrine falcons in the UK. They have just one brood per year of around 2-4 young, which fledge after five or six weeks.

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