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Peregrine falcons take time to hatch chicks at City Hall.

Byline: JESSICA WALFORD Reporter jessica.walford@walesonline.co.uk

A PAIR of peregrine falcon chicks have just hatched - in the perhaps unlikely setting of Cardiff city centre.

The baby birds were first spotted about a month ago on top of City Hall's clock tower, and the chicks are the second set of offspring for a pair of falcons who call the landmark building home.

Last year, the same pair - nicknamed Mr and Mrs Peregrine - had chicks who have since left the nest.

Barnaby Flynn, who works for the RSPB, said the chicks can take about a month and a half to get their feathers and start to learn to fly.

But once they do, the area around City Hall can turn into a battleground for food. Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals in the world, and can reach speeds of up to 200mph during a dive.

Barnaby said: "They stay until the end of the summer after they've learned to hunt around the area. Once they do, they have a bit of a dog fight with each other.

"They can kill seagull chicks and have already eaten a pigeon - plucking its feathers out one by one." He added that watching the parents teach their offsrping to hunt is quite a spectacle.

"The adults kill birds in the sky and, as they drop down, the chicks have to catch them," he said.

"They can swoop at 200mph by folding their wings up, it's like a missile. It's really incredible."

But until then, there can be a few mishaps. Barnaby said: "They do fall off the ledge quite a bit. They end up at the bottom and have to be carried up."

Peregrine falcons may have a fearsome reputation for speed, but for a brief period were nearly extinct in the UK.

However, thanks to conservation work and awareness-raising, numbers have steadily increased since the 1960s when numbers of the birds reached their lowest due to human persecution and the impact of pesticides in the food chain.

Now numbers have risen and the birds have moved into more urban areas, according to the RSPB.

The chicks will be able to be seen around City Hall until the end of the summer.

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Youngsters try to spot the falcon chicks RICHARD WILLIAMS

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 27, 2017
Words:380
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