City cen­tre hunters

Wher­ever you travel, one of the world’s most iconic birds of prey can now be seen in the mid­dle of our big­gest conur­ba­tions

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

One of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary de­vel­op­ments in bird­watch­ing in the last three decades has been the coloni­sa­tion of our city cen­tres by the Pere­grine, the fastest liv­ing thing on earth. In his col­umn this month, on Cen­tral Lon­don, David Lindo talks about how these high­ve­loc­ity rap­tors have taken up res­i­dence in the cen­tre of the cap­i­tal – as well as the well-known breed­ers on the Tate Mod­ern build­ing, oth­ers take ad­van­tage of the ready avail­abil­ity of prey (es­pe­cially Feral Pi­geons) in the many parks and squares. But it’s not just Lon­don. Many of Bri­tain’s cities and larger towns now have their own Pere­grines, with cathe­drals prov­ing to be a favourite nest site (for ex­am­ple, in Nor­wich, Chich­ester, Derby, and at York Min­ster). In fact, any build­ing with ledges and crevices that ‘mimic’ the Pere­grine’s nat­u­ral breed­ing habi­tat of cliffs is likely to be used, so power sta­tions and quar­ries out­side cities (but still in low­land ar­eas pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered un­suit­able for the species) are also pop­u­lar. Adap­ta­tion You won’t be sur­prised to learn that this adap­ta­tion is far from just a Bri­tish phe­nom­e­non, ei­ther. Pere­grines use churches and other city cen­tre build­ings right around the world, with New York pro­vid­ing prob­a­bly the most ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­am­ple. Pere­grines had ef­fec­tively be­come ex­tinct on the east coast of the USA, for the same main rea­son that they had be­come scarce here (in­di­rect poi­son­ing by pes­ti­cide use), and a pop­u­la­tion had to be re-es­tab­lished us­ing re­leased fal­con­ers’ birds. These birds – from a va­ri­ety of sub­species – have now ef­fec­tively formed a new sub­species of their own, with the man­made canyons of the Big Ap­ple as their home. So, which­ever town or city you’re in, take David Lindo’s ad­vice, and look up – there’s a good chance that this su­perb rap­tor will be above you.

Pere­grines at the nest-site

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