Three peregrine falcons hatch on ABN AMRO head office roof

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Our peregrine falcon pair today welcomed three chicks into the world on the roof of the ABN AMRO head office in the Amsterdam financial district. A webcam is following mum and dad’s efforts to bring up their little ones.

A nesting box has been in place on the 21st floor of the ABN AMRO head office since 2011, at the request of then urban ecologist Martin Melchers, who had spotted peregrine falcons in the area. Since that first year, there has always been a pair of falcons that have nested in the box.

Nested sounds too cosy a word, though, as we’re talking little more than a stone box with gravel – which is exactly how these birds like it. They tend not to build their own nests in the wild either and are satisfied with an old crow’s nest, a power pylon or specially fashioned nesting boxes such as the one placed on top of ABN AMRO’s roof.

Viral Frits

In 2013, one chick – dubbed Frits – went viral, as its first attempt at flying took it to the ledge of the 14th floor, where it was kept alive on chicken and water after the floor’s employees had managed to prise open the window a little. This created a massive online response. The peregrine falcons also feature in the documentary known as De Wilde Stad (which translates as ‘The Wild City’).

Webcam

The webcam shows how the mother is keeping her chicks warm and feeding them after hunting. Who knows, it may be Frits – because despite its male name, Frits turned out to be female. In the meantime, a few other pairs have made the box their nesting home, so it could be that Frits has taken up residence on the roof. The chicks’ father isn’t often around at this point.

Back from the brink

A decade or two ago, peregrine falcons were very close to extinction, mostly because of pesticide use. Various measures, including the placement of nesting boxes, have pulled the species back from the brink and there are currently some 150 breeding pairs in the Netherlands.

Pigeon leftovers

In the next couple of weeks, we’re likely to regularly encounter the remains of pigeons around the building at Gustav Mahlerplein, as these constitute the main and easiest staple food for the two falcons.

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