Red Road feathered family flies the nest
Published by Glasgow Housing Association on Fri 27 Jul 12 @ 10:18
A pair of peregrine falcons who set up home in Glasgow's iconic Red Road flats has raised what is believed to be the city's first ever peregrine chick.
The birds of prey became surprise tenants of the multi-storey flats, in the North of the city, after nesting on the 24th floor of the 27-storey building at 10-30 Petershill Court.
The empty building is due to be demolished by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) as part of the ongoing regeneration of the city. The first block was demolished in June this year.
Traditionally associated with the countryside, changing landscapes have meant that peregrines have had to adapt to living in more unusual places.
Local resident Steven McGrath first spotted the birds, which are relatively new additions to Scotland's cities, late last year.
Steven said: "I'd noticed the peregrines were spending a lot of time around the flats. As the first block was due to be demolished I was concerned the birds might be at risk if they decided to nest within them, so I decided to contact RSPB Scotland and others for advice.
"I've never heard of these birds breeding in Glasgow so I wanted to do everything I could to make sure they were successful."
It is illegal to disrupt breeding birds, so to assist the nesting pair, GHA and demolition contractor Safedem funded a new purpose-built nesting box for the adult peregrines at a nearby block of flats at Red Road. The nest was constructed and installed by Central Scotland Raptor Study Group, assisted by RSPB Scotland staff.
Despite their efforts, the adult peregrines decided to stick with their original nesting site, and laid two eggs in Spring.
Great care was taken to safeguard the nest site. Steven, and volunteers of the Central Scotland Raptor Study Group, installed a research camera to monitor the nest.
Despite one egg failing at an early stage, the pair successfully raised a single chick, which left the nest on 12th July.
Toby Wilson, of RSPB Scotland, added: "The Red Road flats housed many new families in their time, so it's fitting to see the first breeding peregrines in Glasgow join that list. It's been a real team effort getting to this stage. Thanks to Steven's dedication and watchful eye, as well as the ongoing cooperation and support of Safedem, Glasgow Housing Association and Central Scotland Raptor Study Group, we've given this chick a good start in life."
William Sinclair, Safedem Managing Director, said: "Our staff at Red Road kept in regular and close contact with Steven and the RSPB officers. We provided protective measures and controlled access to the building in order to monitor and record the progress of our peregrine family. I'm delighted that, with such care and commitment from everyone involved, our peregrine chick is thriving."
David Fletcher, GHA's Assistant Director of Regeneration, said: "We wanted to do everything we could to make our unusual tenants feel at home so that's why we worked closely with the RSPB, local birding groups and Safedem to give the chick the best start in life.
"Hopefully other peregrines will hear how GHA is such a great landlord and start flocking to Glasgow in increasing numbers."
James Leonard, of the Central Scotland Raptor Study Group, added: "This has been a fantastic project, showing that industry and rare breeding birds can coexist - it's truly brilliant. It has been great to contribute our knowledge and practical experience of peregrine falcons to help throughout the project, from building boxes to ringing the chick. We have been privileged to be involved."
After leaving the nest or fledging, the young bird will continue to be fed by its parents for another 4-8 weeks, after which it should normally leave the area.
Recognised as the world's fastest species, peregrines are renowned for their aerial mastery, reaching impressive speeds as they dive for prey.