Salisbury Cathedral Chicks Named & Ringed Today

The three peregrines chicks that hatched on the Tower last month were named and ringed today by Nigel Jones from the British Trust for Ornithology, assisted by Phil Sheldrake, the Cathedral’s Nature Conservation Adviser.

The chicks, which are around three weeks old, were weighed, measured and fitted with a small metal British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) ring on their right leg, used for tracking/record-keeping, and a larger orange plastic Darvic ring bearing a unique two-letter ID on their left leg. The Darvic ring allows anyone with sharp eyes, binoculars or a telescope to identify the falcons and let the BTO know where they saw them and how they were.

Ringing is an important part of the Cathedral’s peregrine project because it provides the BTO and Cathedral with clues as to the secret lives of these magnificent birds, where they go and what they do.

Measuring the tarsus ahead of ringing    📷 Finnbarr Webster

The peregrines were also named during the ringing procedure. An initial shortlist themed around the Coronation was provided by Cathedral volunteers and on 12 May the choice was opened up to a public vote. Six hundred and fifty-three people took part in the public vote and the names they chose are below – along with the weight and ID details for each chick:

Top choice for the single male chick was Rex which garnered 196 votes. Rex (Orange ID ring VDR) weighed in at a modest 655g. The name Rex was put forward by the Tuesday Morning and Thursday Afternoon Guiding teams. Latin for King, Rex seems a wholly appropriate name for the fastest member of the animal kingdom.

Rose was top choice for the females. Put forward by the Cathedral Volunteer Gardeners, Rose received 115 votes. The royal connection? The Right Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury presented Queen Camilla with The Queen Consort’s Rod during the Coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey. The largest of all the chicks, Rose (Orange ID ring VHR) weighed in at a hefty 930g – not far off a kilo.

Finally, the third chick, Lily, (Orange ID ring VRR), weighed a more modest 840g. The name Lily was put forward by the Cathedral Flower Arrangers because it is a symbol of purity, joy, love and sincerity, and one of the favourite flowers grown at Buckingham Palace, a flower frequently used in Royal Bouquets...

               Left to Right Nigel Jones with Lily, Ruth Churchill With Rex and Phil Sheldrake with Rose               📷 Finnbarr Webster

Now they have been ringed the Salisbury chicks will remain on the South Tower balcony for a further three weeks during which time they will start moving up and down the balcony, flapping their wings to strengthen them and growing their juvenile plumage.

One of the advantages of their penthouse nest on the Cathedral Tower is that by the time the chicks manage to fly up onto the balcony parapet they are pretty much ready to go. Occasionally a fledging gets grounded after its first flight and is carried back up the Tower to have another try.

Once fledged, the juveniles will stay around the Cathedral for at least a month, learning survival and hunting skills from their parents before striking out on their own. When fledging starts in early June, the South Wilts Local Group provide a fabulous peregrine themed Date with Nature experience on the Cathedral’s West Lawn. A team of South Wilts RSPB volunteers armed with telescopes and information set up by the Cathedral’s cloister entrance, offering visitors the opportunity to watch the juveniles close up and sharing their expert knowledge about these amazing birds.  

Date with Nature runs from 11am to 4pm from Tuesday 6 June. Dates are listed below:
Tuesday 6 - Saturday 10 June
Monday 13 - Friday 16 June
Monday 19 - Friday 23 June
Monday 26 - Friday 30 June, except Wednesday.

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