I READ with interest the letter from Mr and Mrs P Chapman (May 20 Missing out on Wildlife) regarding the Peregrine Falcon eating birds on her lawn.
While not having proof, I feel sure that they are mistaking what is more than likely a Sparrow Hawk for a Peregrine Falcon. Sparrow Hawks usually catch birds up to Blackbird size and this would include Thrushes and Skylarks although some readers may have witnessed them taking bigger prey. A Peregrines favourite food is Pigeon but I am sure when they have young they are catchers of opportunity.
Peregrines are birds that have suffered years of persecution from man, and also suffered greatly in the past from chemicals used by man. The young have a 50% survival rate over their first winter. If they are injured they cannot catch their food and starve to death. They spend huge amounts of their time preening, not a feather out of place. This attention to their plumage is what gives them their “Formula One” performance allowing them to catch their prey (food) thus avoiding starvation. An example of this performance was witnessed by my brother (who has been monitoring peregrines in various parts of Yorkshire for 30+ years) who saw a Peregrine chase down and catch a Swift. We are lucky in Scarborough, we have two sites where there are Peregrine. Rest awhile and watch their fantastic flying display, they aren’t always chasing other birds.
They are not like some of us, they hunt for food to survive not for “enjoyment”.
They are protected by law and huge fines have been handed out to those who take eggs or young, or who disturb nesting birds. It is important not to get hysterical over what is after all “nature”. The average suburban cat accounts for large amounts of birds and most of them aren’t hungry, I have not seen any comments regarding this fact in the paper.