Scientific Journal of the BirdLife Hungary

A Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület tudományos folyóirata

Ornis Hungarica. vol.26(2). (2018) p.232-242.

Extreme territorial aggression by urban Peregrine Falcons toward Common Buzzards in South-West England
Nick Dixon & Andrew Gibbs

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Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) breeding on a city centre church in Exeter, in the south-west of England, have been studied in detail since first occupation in 1997. During this period, changes in both male and female falcons have been recorded. Following the arrival of a new female Peregrine in 2009, a dramatic change in behaviour towards Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) on passage over the city was noted. Buzzards flying over Exeter are attacked by the falcons, especially so when in proximity to the church. We have attempted to document these attacks through our own observations, with additional information from local residents and wildlife organisations. Further records have come from veterinary surgeries and wildlife rehabilitators regarding injured buzzards found in the city. This paper documents the extreme levels of territorial aggression as demonstrated by the pair of Peregrines during cooperative attacks on Buzzards. We reveal this unique interspecific behaviour by summarising the number, frequency, timing and outcome of attacks undertaken over an eight-year period. We describe and illustrate the strategy employed by the Peregrines during a typical attack, plus consider implications on breeding productivity and the future scenarios should one of the current pair be replaced.