21/01/2007 I’ve been given the enjoyable job of translating this excellent and complete webpage on the reintroduction of peregrine falcons in Barcelona. At the moment it’s only in Catalan but Spanish and English versions will be available soon. Persecution drove the peregrine to extinction in the city in 1973, but a reintroduction programme has successfully brought the bird back using hacking, and there are now four pairs of peregrines in Barcelona (Montjuic cliffs, Mouth of River Besós, Santa Maria del Mar and Sagrada Familia). A couple of interesting snips adapted from the web:
During the hacking work in 1999 in the Church of Santa Maria del Pi, a pair of kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) nesting in the same bell tower brought food both to their chicks and the peregrine chicks inside the nest box. They almost always brought swifts (Apus apus) and house sparrows (Passer domesticus ). When the young peregrines left the nest box, they lived together with the young kestrels and could often be seen perched together. Update The person in charge of the programme had looked for suitable sites in the year in question, but hadn’t realised this one had kestrels nesting “next door”. When their own chicks had fledged – which was early, before the peregrines- the adult kestrels heard the peregrines and started to feed them – but they couldn’t see them as they were in a box. They dropped headless swifts and sparrows through the letterbox. They also continued to feed their young, now-flying birds. When the peregrines emerged both species seem to have got on fine, and were frequently seen perching together. The next year they repeated the hacking in the same site, but on this occasion the kestrels hatched and fledged later than the peregrines, and the adult kestrels did not feed the young peregrines.
This phenomenon is somewhat surprising if we consider that both kestrels and peregrines are highly territorial species which zealously and aggressively protect their offspring. Moreover, peregrines will occasionally capture and eat kestrels.
Of particular interest in the diet of Barcelona ‘s peregrines is the presence of many migratory species, some as difficult to see as Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla), revealing the importance of the city as a point along the migratory routes of many species. Other species include scops owl, snipe, bar-tailed godwit and teal. A total of 29 different species of prey have been recorded since 1999, although pigeons make up 52% of their diet. Clearly, however Barcelona’s four pairs of peregrine make no dent on the city’s 180,000-strong army of doves. (Photos by Roger Sanmartà ) See also older piece on Kestrels and peregrine falcons in Barcelona