Peregrine chicks hatched at Salisbury Cathedral to be named in honour of NHS

Four chicks which hatched on the Tower of Salisbury Cathedral are to be named in relation to medicine and public health in honour of the NHS.

The chicks which are believed to be two females and two males weigh in between 530 grams and 830 grams – the heaviest being a female that already weighs as much as a fully grown male.

Chick PHJ chilling out Credit: James Fisher

The four Salisbury chicks will remain on the Cathedral Tower balcony until June, when they are expected to fledge. They'll stay around the Cathedral for at least month after that, learning survival and hunting skills from their parents before striking out on their own.

The Falcons nesting on the tower of Salisbury Cathedral in April

The chicks have now been ringed, and voting for their names will begin soon.

In honour of the amazing work done by the Sarum South vaccine team working in the Cathedral, and all the other NHS teams who have been working so hard on the rollout, the Peregrine team decided to offer up names from the field of medicine and public health.

All have a connection, however distant, to Salisbury and the Cathedral.

All the names for the chicks will have a connection to Salisbury Cathedral

Philip Sheldrake established the peregrine project at the Cathedral eight years ago, wooing the birds back after a 60-year absence.

Salisbury Cathedral has three camera feeds on the balcony with many people watching the live stream during the various lockdowns.

Each chick now sports a distinctive orange ring, the colour used for peregrines ringed in.

An orange ring is put on the first chick Credit: Salisbury Cathedral

Each ring bears a unique three-letter code that allows researchers and livestream viewers to keep track of each individual chick from now on. This year’s letters are TVD, PTJ, TND (the enormous female) and PHJ.

The largest chick is a female and weighs as much as an adult male Credit: James Fisher

Salisbury Cathedral has an historic bond with peregrines. There were nine fully authenticated sightings between 1864 and 1953.

However, a long period of absence followed, from 1953 until 2014 when a pair bred successfully on the South side Tower balcony.

Salisbury Cathedral has an historic bond with peregrines Credit: Salisbury Cathedral

Three peregrine chicks were hatched, ringed and fledged from the base of Salisbury Cathedral’s spire that year and a further four in 2015.

In 2016 two peregrines out of a clutch of four survived and fledged and in 2017 only one chick hatched but was joined by an orphaned chick after a few weeks. Both birds successfully fledged.

There were no chicks on the Tower in 2018, but a new pair moved in in 2019 and that year and the following year successfully fledged 4 chicks.

Phil Sheldrake, Cathedral Nature Conservation Adviser with the chicks Credit: James Fisher

That a total of brings the total number of chicks hatched on the Tower to 22 plus our orphan, adopted in 2017.