Peregrine falcons make their home at Leicester Cathedral
Published on 11 April 2017
EASTER is traditionally a time for eggs symbolising new life, but a family of birds of prey at Leicester Cathedral have taken it one step further.
Peregrine falcons nesting in a newly-created habitat in the cathedral’s bell tower have laid their first clutch of three eggs.
The nest area was created just over a year ago, when a 180kg block of stone was carefully removed from the cathedral, allowing a nesting box to be installed to create a suitable urban habitat.
Peregrines normally nest among cliffs, but often make their homes on high buildings in cities.
Now after months of patient watching and waiting, experts from the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) have confirmed that the peregrines have made the cathedral their home.
Leicester City Council nature conservation officer, Richard Kelly, said: “It is a huge relief that the peregrines have chosen Leicester Cathedral as their home.
“This has been the ultimate aim of the Leicester Peregrine Project to ensure their safety and conservation for the future. However, this is only the start.
“We are planning to install webcams and continue to raise awareness of the peregrines through watch points, talks and the website.
“This project would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of LROS members and the staff at Leicester Cathedral.”
LROS president Jim Graham added: “Between the end of March and the beginning of April, peregrines will start to lay up to four eggs. This year there are some records coming in of peregrines laying up to six, so the Leicester peregrines are right on track.”
The peregrines will now incubate their eggs for about 30 days, with hatching usually taking place after 40 days. Both adult birds take it in turns to mind the eggs, allowing each other to feed.
Operations manager at Leicester Cathedral, Richard Mackinder, said: “One of my roles is to encourage as many people from different backgrounds to come to, and use, the building. Another of my roles is to utilise the building as much as possible.
“The peregrines, dare I say, in one fell swoop have helped this.
“It is great to see that they have gone from casual users of the building last year to breeding this year.
“Hopefully in a few weeks we will have a resident young family and in the years to come we will not only be able to learn a lot from them, but they will feel at home enough to carry on raising young for years to come.”
People will be able to see the birds up close for themselves at the next Peregrine Watch event, taking place at Cathedral Gardens on Wednesday, April 19, from 9.30am.
The installation of the nesting box was part of a joint project by the city council and LROS completed in March 2016.
Leicester assistant city mayor for energy and sustainability, Cllr Adam Clarke, added: "It's very encouraging to see that wildlife such as these peregrines can live and thrive in the city, where suitable urban habitats have been created for them.
"I hope projects such as this help safeguard the future of these birds of prey in Leicester, and in turn increase the thriving biodiversity of the city."
For more information visit: http://leicesterperegrines.org.uk/ or follow @leicsperegrines on Twitter