Heidelberg wimmelt – Wimmelsearchtip of the Week 28 – Heidelberg’s Peregrine Falcon

Heidelberg wimmelt – Wimmelsearchtip of the Week 28 – Heidelberg's famous peregrine falcons above the Holy Spirit Church

Heidelberg wimmelt – Wimmelsearchtip of the Week 28 – Heidelberg's Peregrine Falcon

In Heidelberg, high up in the tower of the Holy Spirit Church live peregrine falcons which you see in my illustration wearing red Christmas hats. Heidelberg is proud of its peregrine falcons.

Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II

Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II's "About the Art of Hunting with Birds" Two Falconers (source Wikipedia)
Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II's "About the Art of Hunting with Birds" Two Falconers (Source: Wikipedia)

Historically, falconry has always been a noble art. The Hohenstaufen Emperor Friederich II even kept journals about it. He loved the falcon hunt and he practically developed his hobby into a science. He invited many Egyptian and Arabian Falconers to his court, had Arabic hunting literature translated and collected many works on the science of birds. Friederich himself wrote a book called 'De arte venandi cum avibus' (About the Art of Hunting with Birds), which later became the definitive work for zoology in the 13th Century. This work was considered so valuable that the manuscripts were stolen by citizens of the besieged city of Parma in 1248.


The peregrine falcons in Heidelberg have a hard time reproducing, because the Egyptian geese, who have made themselves at home in Heidelberg, often fly into the falcons' nest box and scare off the brooding parents.  But in 2016 scientists from Bonn developed a smart nesting box, which works with image recognition. It is programmed to frighten away the Egyptian geese with flashes and noises emulating a storm. Unfortunately it was not mentioned on the ag-wanderfalken.de page 2016 whether the modern nest box was successful or not.

This missing information felt almost like a cliffhanger in a movie, because on the day that I visited the ag-wanderfalken.de homepage there was no further entry in the submenu about how the saga went on in 2017.

But I later discovered a glimmer of hope: a recording of the webcam from 27.12. 2017. The falcon sits alone and listens to the tower bells ringing in the early morning. I decided to ask Mr. Gäng, who is responsible for the website. He said "Goosezilla" was successfully repelled. I think we can all breath a sigh of relief. The peregrine falcon chicks are really sweet and fluffy, who can resist them? Nevertheless, this current reprieve from the Egyptian goose doesn't mean real 'peace' for the falcons. They need your help.

Who can resist such cute fluffy balls of feathers? Photo ©Hans Martin Gäng, Verein AG peregrine Falcon Heidelberg, photo of the peregrine falcon with its chicks

The Association for Peregrine Falcons AG Heidelberg

The peregrine falcons are native to Heidelberg and the Association for Peregrine Falcons Heidelberg supports them with nest boxes, not only in the Holy Spirit Church but throughout the region. This work is time-consuming and also means that the association needs donations to keep the nest boxes in order. The NABU Heidelberg accepts donations for this. If you want to help this noble bird that has accompanied Heidelberg throughout history, visit www.ag-wanderfalken.de. There you will find information about donations and the issuing of donation receipts. Besides, this website is incredibly fascinating.

Just as fascinating are the stories in 'Heidelberg wimmelt', many of which are based on true stories. Go on a voyage of discovery through my wimmelbook, 'Heidelberg wimmelt', which you can get from your favorite book seller, directly from Silberburg-Verlag publishing house , or from an online bookstore of your trust.

Once you have it you can ask each other I-spy questions, e.g. who can find the Egyptian geese and where? (Tip, not at the Holy Spirit Church – not anymore). You can also ask your own questions about the picture stories in the comments section below. I'll be happy to answer them.

If you have a favorite animal you want to have drawn, just get in touch with me. Valentine's Day is soon and an illustration for your sweetheart is guaranteed to be a beautiful gift. Just send me a request. By the way, I also draw portraits of people, too.

See you next week!

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