THE first peregrine falcon chicks to have hatched on England's tallest cathedral spire in more than 60 years have been ringed.
The three chicks hatched in a nesting box installed on Salisbury Cathedral's iconic 123 metre (403ft) high spire three weeks ago.
They were ringed today with a unique colour-ring and identification number by well known ornithologist and wildlife presenter Ed Drewitt.
The chicks, who have been named Pip, Peter and Paula, were each weighed, measured and ringed in a process that took between five and seven minutes for each bird.
They were removed from the nest on the south balcony at the top of the cathedral tower and taken inside the tower for the procedure.
A human 'spotter' remained out on the balcony to prevent the parent birds from returning to an empty nest during the well-established process which will have no adverse effect on the chicks' continued development.
Feeding time for the peregrine falcon chicks
Gary Price, clerk of works, said: ''I feel privileged to have played a small part in securing the peregrines' presence here at Salisbury Cathedral for many years to come.
''It's reassuring to know that a few small steps by various people can make all the difference to the local wildlife.''
Phil Sheldrake, conservation officer at the RSPB, said: ''Salisbury Cathedral really is the ancestral home of the 'urban' peregrine, with records dating back to the mid-1800s.
''It has been brilliant working with everyone at the cathedral to bring back such a spectacular bird to the country's most spectacular cathedral.
''After 61 years, this is a fantastic result, let's hope they are here to stay for many years to come.''
The chicks are expected to start to fledge in the next four weeks and remain around the cathedral for a further four weeks. It is hoped they will return in future years to nest in the box they were born in.
The last time the bird of prey nested at the cathedral was in 1953.
Peregrine falcon numbers rapidly declined during the 19th and 20th centuries due to illegal shooting and use of certain pesticides on farms.
According to the RSPB there are 1,500 breeding pairs in the UK.