London’s falcons changed their eating habits during lockdown

London is home to about 40 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons (PA)
London is home to about 40 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons (PA)

Scientists have discovered that during lockdown London's peregrine falcons were forced to consume more parakeets.

According to King's College London, as pigeons fled urban areas during the Covid epidemic, peregrines had to find substitutes. Researchers came to the conclusion that it was because locals weren't feeding birds bread.

London has about 40 breeding pairs, one of the densest populations of peregrine falcons, which are the world's fastest birds. They are believed to have arrived in UK towns for the first time in the 1990s, drawn by the profusion of pigeons. The increasing number of ring-necked parakeets and pigeons that may be harming native species is something that bird conservation organisations are hoping to address with these birds.

Here is what you need to know about the changed diet of London’s peregrine falcons, according to research by King’s College London.

London falcons’ parakeet diet

Throughout three breeding seasons, the researchers studied peregrine nutrition and reproduction at 31 locations in 27 UK towns using online nest cameras. The first time frame, from March to June 2020, fell during the first Covid-19 lockdown in England. During this time, the diet of peregrine falcons consisted of 35 per cent pigeons, 36 per cent starlings and 18 per cent parakeets. Pigeons constituted roughly half of the falcons' food over the subsequent times that were observed.

Brandon Mak from King’s College London, said: “Peregrine falcons are not fussy eaters and they will eat whatever birds they can find. As pigeons moved away from central London during the lockdown as a result of less food, the peregrines had to find alternative food. Now that the pigeons are back in the city, the peregrine falcons have gone back to primarily eating them.”

The Global Anthropause Raptor Research Network, which examines how lockdowns have affected raptors worldwide, will benefit from the findings of this study.