Peregrine Falcons breed at former Sheffield church

Peregrine Falcon in flight in Sheffield
Peregrine Falcon in flight in Sheffield
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Peregrine Falcons nesting at The University of Sheffield have become Yorkshire’s first urban breeding pair - and a web cam is to be installed for the birds to be monitored and to ensure their safety.

Professor David Wood from the university’s Department of Hispanic Studies, and chairman of the Sheffield Bird Study Group, has been observing the birds since a nest platform was placed at the top of St George’s Church in 2010 to encourage the birds to land and nest there.

He said: “In February I saw the first signs of territorial behaviour around St George’s as the pair attacked a kestrel over Brookhill roundabout. Then in late March copulation was observed on several occasions.

“This was a clear indication that they intended to breed at the site and both birds were seen repeatedly on and in the nest platform. They’ve been sitting on eggs for a few weeks, and the adults’ behaviour indicates the eggs have now hatched.”

Phil Riley, energy manager in the university’s Department of Estates and Facilities Management, said: “The university plans to install a webcam near the nest over the summer.

“This will not only act as a security camera to ensure the nest is not tampered with, but will also allow us to make high quality images of these beautiful wild birds available to the public.”

Peregrine Falcons were previously an endangered species but their population has increased since the 1970s.

Prof Wood led the project to get Peregrines nesting in Sheffield after seeing similar platforms constructed and used in Derby, Manchester and Lincoln.

The birds at St George’s are the first to nest in Sheffield city centre since records began.

Prof Wood added: “Peregrines are one of the most spectacular species in Britain, traditionally associated with remote sea cliffs and inaccessible sites, and to be able to see them in urban Sheffield is an absolute privilege.

“I know they have brought a great deal of pleasure to local residents around St George’s and beyond, as well as to me.

“For the pair to be successful on their first breeding attempt is fantastic and I was really thrilled when I watched the female taking food to the nest, the clearest indication yet that the chicks have hatched. It certainly makes the efforts of all involved hugely worthwhile.”