Saturday 20 July 2019

Birds of prey take up residence in church tower

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.

The Argus