THEY were once driven near to extinction.
But peregrine falcons are now thriving and the public have been invited to get a rare glimpse of tiny chicks hatching this weekend.
Since 2001, Chichester Cathedral has been home to a pair of breeding peregrine falcons.
The RSPB has rigged up a live HD webcam link from the nest to a viewing area in the Cathedral’s Royal Chantry Garden, as part of the Date with Nature event.
From April 28, RSPB staff and volunteers will be on hand with binoculars and telescopes, to help spot the birds and to answer wildlife questions.
Last year all four chicks successfully fledged from the tower, and this year the pair has laid a further four eggs.
They are expected to start hatching from Friday.
RSPC spokesman Mark Weston said: ‘Witnessing the new chicks hatching is one of the highlights of the project.
‘Visitors love to come and watch the screens as they emerge.
‘It’s a rare sight that people don’t often get to experience.
‘Our live video feeds provide a fantastic way for families with young children to get up close to nature, as they can see the birds in detail without worrying about any noise disturbing them.’
The widespread use of pesticides and hunters drove peregrine falcons close to extinction in the UK.
But as populations recover they are becoming more common in urban areas.
The Chichester Cathedral site was the first in Europe to host a peregrine webcam to provide an intimate view of peregrines raising their young.
The peregrines nest on the cathedral tower in a box made and supplied by the Sussex Ornithological Society.
When the young are starting to learn to fly, the RSPB will move out on to the cathedral green. Entry to the cathedral is free and the Date with Nature event runs until Saturday, July 2.
To see live footage go to chichestercathedral.org.uk. To see footage from last year go to portsmouth.co.uk.