Cathedral nest box for city’s peregrines

Published on 21 March 2016

A NEST box has been installed at Leicester Cathedral to encourage peregrine falcons to make a home there.

Leicester City Council has been working with Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) on a project to survey the birds and make the city more hospitable for them.

Peregrine sightings have been recorded in Leicester for the past 30 years, with more regular sightings in the past 10 years. Six nest boxes have now been installed across the city, in locations known to be favoured by the peregrines.

To help protect the birds, nest box sites are not normally revealed. However, local wildlife experts from the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust (LRWT) were approached by the Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith, who asked if the cathedral would be a good site for one of the boxes.

LRWT put the Dean in touch with the city council and the ornithological society, and as a result, a national expert was called in to survey the suitability of the site.

Richard Kelly, assistant nature conservation officer at Leicester City Council, said: “It’s great that we’ve been able to work with the cathedral to set up this nest box, which will also give people the chance to observe this beautiful bird.

“Peregrines naturally nest on cliff faces, so this means man-made structures such as tall buildings are also a perfect habitat for them. To catch their prey, peregrines will climb to extreme heights and dive-bomb their prey – making for fascinating viewing!’

David Monteith, Dean of Leicester said: “Many English cathedrals host peregrines. The word peregrine actually means pilgrim. So these birds are our latest pilgrims and we very much hope they will make their home with us and that many people will wish to follow the developing life of these elegant and beautiful birds.”

Jim Graham, president of the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society, said: “It is extremely heart-warming when different aspects of the community work together in the name of wildlife. Peregrine falcons are iconic and fascinating creatures and the opportunity for people to see them in the city in close proximity is very exciting. We are indebted to the city council, Leicester Cathedral and the Bradgate Park Trust, amongst others, for their expertise and input in bringing this project to fruition.

“The installation of a really high quality nest box at the Cathedral is exciting and we are looking forward to seeing if the birds will choose to nest in it this year.”

There is a display featuring information about the peregrines and the nest box project inside the foyer of St Martins House, adjacent to the cathedral.

To find out more about the project, follow the Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/LeicsPeregrines

The LROS website is at http://www.lros.org.uk/

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