(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.
(Elliot Nelson; 17 March 2017)
On the evening of March 9, 2017, Lauren LaFave, 16, was walking across a bridge over the Flint River on the campus of the University of Michigan-Flint. LaFave noticed an unusually white bird resting on the bridge and was able to snap a few quick pictures on her phone. After those photos were shared among a number of Facebook groups it was confirmed that the bird photographed was, in fact, one of the rarest birds in all of North America, an ivory gull.
To understand the rarity of finding an ivory gull in downtown Flint, one must understand a bit about the species. The ivory gull is a bird rarely found south of the Arctic Circle. In North America, ivory gulls breed in the high arctic regions of Canada on bare rocks exposed only during the summer months. Unlike most arctic birds that head south for the winter, the ivory gull spends its winters remaining in the arctic. It can be found foraging on pack ice in the Bering Sea as well as the ice edge region between 50°–65° north latitude around Labrador and Greenland. The bird research database Birds of North American Online notes that only 2000-3000 of these birds breed in North America. It is listed in the 2014 State of the Birds report as being a species that will most likely become threatened or endangered unless conservation actions are taken. The species decline is due in part to declining sea ice associated with climate change as well as high mercury levels that accumulate in their tissue.