Peregrine falcons happy with high-rise Burnley home

A pair of majestic peregrine falcons have found a new high-rise home in Burnley.

Friday, 8th April 2016, 9:00 am

Eagle-eyed staff at Burnley’s St Peter’s Health and Leisure Centre, who had recently spotted the stunning birds of prey circling around the multi-storey building, were more than happy to help provide a more suitable home when approached by the Manchester Raptors Society.

The group is working to provide urban nesting places for peregrines and barn owls throughout Lancashire and Greater Manchester, and asked if the centre could house some specialist nest trays for the birds.

Judith Smith, secretary of the group, said: “Peregrines have successfully moved into urban areas in the last 20 years or so, which is just as well as there is quite a lot of persecution when they nest in the wild, with eggs and young being stolen.

Peregrine nest tray at the top of the St Peter's Centre in Burnley

“Egg collectors target the eggs and the young chicks are stolen for the Middle East falconry trade.”

The nest tray, located on one of the centre’s ledges, has a perforated base and is filled with gravel.

Judith added: “Peregrines don’t build a nest but just scrape together any loose earth or sand on a ledge to form a base for their eggs.

“On buildings this is not available, or if it is, water may collect in any recess in stonework and kill the eggs. So the ideal solution is to provide a nest tray.”

Peregrine nest tray at the top of the St Peter's Centre in Burnley

If the birds are successful in nesting, the young would be ringed with a metal ring and a colour ring with two white letters on a red background on the other leg.

The male from the St Peter’s pair is identified as HK and was born at Rochdale Town Hall in 2012. The female has a red ring but as yet the group has been unable to identify her. Ringing is strictly controlled by the British Trust for Ornithology.

Jo Walmsley, St Peter’s Centre manager, said: “I approached Eric Wright Facilities Management and luckily found a strong ally in Mr Eric Wright himself, who is also a keen bird watcher and Raptor.

“He fully supported the project and his company constructed and installed the nest tray a few weeks ago.

“We’re waiting with baited breath for any interest in the nesting tray.

“Our pair of peregrines now have a very ‘des res penthouse’ with a bird’s eye view of the town which we hope they will use for many years.

“We are hoping soon to have our own web cam so we can watch the birds’ activity.”