Birds of prey take up res­i­dence in church tower

The Argus - - NEWS - By Mar­garet Roddy

Dundalk has some new high rise res­i­dents as a pair of Pere­grine Fal­cons has taken up res­i­dence in St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral this win­ter.

Their pres­ence in the bell tower be­side the church was first no­ticed be­cause sev­eral dead prey items were found on the ground below the site, ex­plains Br­effni Martin.

‘ This may be a win­ter roost­ing site but it’s pos­si­ble that they may go on to breed here dur­ing the sum­mer

‘From a bio­di­ver­sity point of view, we would wel­come the pres­ence of this mag­nif­i­cent an­i­mal in Dundalk bring a touch of wild­ness to the heart of the town!’

Their ar­rival in Dundalk is part of a world­wide trend which sees these birds leav­ing ru­ral habi­tats for ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments.

City dwelling pere­grine fal­cons have been re­ported through­out Europe and the United States, where they often nest on sky­scrapers, bridges and cathe­dral spires.

Pere­grine fal­cons are mag­nif­i­cent birds, and are the fastest an­i­mal alive, ca­pa­ble of reach­ing speeds of up to 400 km per hour in a stoop. They also have re­mark­able eye­sight so that they can pick out an in­di­vid­ual prey item more than one mile away. They mainly feed on medium sized birds, and in­vari­ably pick out the weak­est least fit from a flock, thus play­ing an im­por­tant eco­log­i­cal role in main­tain­ing the over­all fit­ness of their prey.

Pere­grines are per­se­cuted for var­i­ous rea­sons in­clud­ing fal­conry (tak­ing of young from nest), pi­geon fan­cy­ing as there’s a per­cep­tion that they prey on rac­ing pi­geons and even mis­con­cep­tions that they im­pact on pop­u­la­tions of song­birds.

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