Five fluffy kestrel chicks have been discovered in the tower of a historic castle in Belgium
The nest was discovered by workers at Gaasbeek Castle, a national museum today, located in the municipality of Lennik in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant.
According to reports, employees found the kestrels in a tower by chance, and it is the first time such an incident involving nesting birds of prey has been recorded as happening at the castle.
However, kestrels have been used for hundreds of years traditionally by the lords and ladies as a way of catching wild quarry.
The use of the kestrel was immortalised in the mediaeval manuscript that depicts which bird is suitable for which social class: “An Eagle for an Emperor, a Gyrfalcon for a King; a Peregrine for a Prince, a Saker for a Knight, a Merlin for a Lady; a Goshawk for a Yeoman, a Sparrowhawk for a Priest, a Musket for a Holy water Clerk, a Kestrel for a Knave.”
The ‘Kestrel for a Knave’ reflects the fact that the kestrel was the bird used for the working classes, and the expression was the inspiration for the book of the same name by Barry Hines about an impoverished boy and the bird that becomes his friend.
After the discovery of the nest, museum worker Tess Thibaut said: “We discovered the kestrels by accident in one of the tower windows.
“This really is the first time something like this has ever happened here.
“My colleague Pieter was showing the fire brigade around the tower. When they went into the Carletto room, a room that is not accessible to the public, he discovered the kestrels.
“We immediately reached for our phones to film the scene and take photos.”
Thibaut added that the kestrel family appears in good health.
The fortified castle was first built around 1240 to defend the Duchy of Brabant against the County of Flanders. However, the castle was destroyed by Brussels troops in revenge for the assassination of Everard t’Serclaes.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the property was inherited by the House of Hornes and they constructed a brick castle on the ruins of the medieval fortress.