WARNING: You may find images shown on these webpages distressing. Peregrine falcons are predators and will bring their family birds and other creatures that they have just caught to eat.

If you have any questions about the Peregrine Falcons, please read through the information on this page before attempting to contact us.

Vegetation has been cleared and a nesting tray installed on our hostel roof, and we are thrilled to say that a pair of Peregrines have not only shown interest in nesting there but have also now laid four eggs. Bird expert, Barry Trevis, has been advising us regarding the birds, and built the bespoke nesting tray for us. We have also been partnering on this with David Faraday from Express Telephony who has installed equipment to allow us to share a livestream of the Peregrines’ activity.

Barry has been advising One YMCA on the breeding Peregrines on the Charter House roof since late 2020. The site was the first confirmed breeding of the species ever in Hertfordshire in 2017, along with a pair on a pylon at Wymondley, near Hitchin in that year.

Last year we changed our plans to hold a fundraising Abseil Challenge from our building to avoid disturbing a visiting pair, instead using one of the carparks at Atria shopping centre to descend, thanks to manager Simon Plumb. Unfortunately, the birds failed to breed in 2023. This year, we have planned around the breeding season and will be holding a fundraising abseil from Charter House in the autumn; in the hope that the Peregrines will breed successfully.

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If you would like to make a larger donation please click here.

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Read about the history of Peregrine Falcons at One YMCA, Charter House, Watford town centre.

Read the History of Peregrine Falcons at One YMCA


Where does the name Peregrine Falcon come from?

Peregrine comes from the Latin word ‘peregrinus’, which means ‘wanderer’ or ‘pilgrim’. Outside of the breeding season Peregrine Falcons around the world are known to travel great distances although Peregrines in the UK tend to stick around.

How big are Peregrines?

Peregrines Falcons are 39-50 cm in length, with a wing span of around 95 – 115cm and can weigh 600 – 1,300g.

How fast is a Peregrine Falcon?

A Peregrine can exceed 200mph when they are diving to catch their prey. This makes them the fastest recorded animal on the planet.

What do Peregrines eat?

Peregrines will often eat Pigeons, although they will eat a wide range of other bird species.

How can I tell the difference between a male and female?

Males are smaller with dashes on the wings and a clean, white breast. Females are much larger, heavily barred on the wings with flecking on the white breast.

Are Peregrine Falcons endangered?

Peregrine numbers were low in the 1960s because of human persecution and pesticides in their food chain. Improved legislation and protection has helped the birds to recover and their numbers are increasing. However, they are still persecuted – birds are illegally killed to prevent predation on game birds and racing pigeons. Eggs and chicks are also stolen for collections and falconry. Peregrines are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Which states that it is a criminal offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or take a Peregrine.

Why have they chosen to nest on top of a One YMCA hostel?

Traditionally Peregrine Falcons nest on cliff faces where the female will scrape a shallow hollow in the loose soil, sand, gravel or dead vegetation where she will lay her eggs. They choose high, out of the way, spots with tall buildings becoming more common, particularly as there is lots of food to be found nearby.

Do Peregrines mate for life?

Yes, generally they do mate for life and will return to the same location each year to nest.

How many eggs will the female lay?

Peregrines normally lay 3-5 eggs each year and each egg takes about one month to hatch.

What if the livestream isn’t working properly?

If you find that the picture has frozen/isn’t working please try refreshing the page, changing your web browser, and checking your internet connection first. If there still seems to be a problem please email us at [email protected].

*We are happy for images captured on our webcameras to be freely used by others – even commercially – under a Creative Commons CC BY SA 3.0 licence. Please acknowledge Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project as the source. Any video or product based primarily upon these images must also be available free of charge or of copyright restrictions under the same Creative Commons agreement. You may also use webcam screenshots posted on our Flickr Group. However non-webcamera photos are likely to belong to third-parties, and will be therefore copyright. Please contact us if you need to use such an image, and tell us why. We will do our best to get permission for re-use.
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