Welcome on the website of the peregrine falcons of Amersfoort.
A short summary in English.
Peregrine falcons are birds of prey that can be found all over the world. In the 1960's they were in Europe almost extinct, as pesticides were the cause of thinner egg shells - so the eggs often broke during the breeding process. Since those pesticides were abolished, the peregrines soon recovered in numbers : from a single pair in 1990, there are now approximately 200 breeding pairs in the Netherlands. Breeding is nowadays usually on tall towers or other high man-made objects.
The female of the peregrine is much bigger then the male. They often hunt by diving from a high level on flying birds, like seagulls or pigeons. In that dive they can reach a speed of over 300 km/hour, making them the fastest birds on earth.
During the breeding period it is the male that does all the hunting. The female does most of the breeding, and feeds the chicks the first few weeks. Usually there are 4 eggs, laid within a week around half March. The eggs hatch around half April. After 3 weeks the young will be ringed, and start changing their white wooly feathers for a proper outfit. At 6 weeks the first flying efforts will be made. End of July the young will leave the area.
Since early 2013 a pair of peregrine falcons has chosen the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwetoren in the centre of the old city of Amersfoort as their territory.
From their rings it appeared that the male was born in Eindhoven (80km from Amersfoort) and the female was born in Brussels (in Belgium - 160km from Amersfoort).
A nest box was placed on the second gallery (halfway up the tower), but the two falcons were still too young to breed. However the next year they managed to raise successfully 3 chicks (2 males, 1 female).
The following year (2015) there has been a fight between some peregrines, resulting in the replacement of the female by another female. This female was born in Cologne (Köln - Germany, 160km from Amersfoort). The first female was not (fysically) hurt and she moved to the next town Hilversum. She chased away the local female peregrine, and since then (untill 2022) has successfully been breeding on the main church. The new female in Amersfoort raised that year only one chick - a female.
Since 2015 this pair of peregrines (new female with original male) has every year successfully raised four chicks, and each year two males, two females. In 2021 one egg did not hatch; the three remaining young were all female and succesfully raised. In 2022 only one egg of the four hatched, so only one chick - a male. The remaining three eggs are being examened to see what might be the cause.
The nest box on the tower has two webcams : one inside the box, the other viewing the platform near the entrance of the box. You can find the Links to these two webcams on the HOMEPAGE of this website.
Of course it is mainly during the breeding period (March until May) that there is much interesting activity to be seen on the webcams. Especially in April and May, when the young are being fed by their mother and you can see them grow bigger by the day. End of May the young peregrines start to fly and soon the falcon family moves to some nearby high office blocks (near the station). Here the young get their flying lessons, and are taught how to hunt. End of July they usually disappear and will not return to Amersfoort. The parent peregrines stay behind for the rest of the year and hang around the tower and the office blocks, but in a very relaxed mood.
As the OLV-tower is year-round also climbed by many tourists, a special arrangement was needed to keep the breeding peregrines separated from those visitors. On the second gallery a large area around the nest box is permanently closed for visitors and shielded off with a high wooden fence. The rest of the second gallery can normally be used by the tourists. However as soon as it is noticed that the young peregrines start walking around outside the nest box, the complete gallery is closed off for a few weeks. Only when it is certain that all the young can properly fly, the gallery is opened for visitors again.
On this website you can follow (in Dutch) the entire history of the Amersfoort falcons, as for each year there is a special page (see verslagen), usually with many pictures. On those pages you will often also find a Link to a list of videos of special moments, captured on the webcams.
So even if you do not understand all of the Dutch text, you can get an impression of the breeding process.