Peregrine Falcon chick safely returned to the Gilbert Scott Tower nest

A breeding pair of Peregrine Falcons, known as the fastest birds in the world, returned to the Gilbert Scott Tower on the University’s main campus this year to raise their young. Peregrines have made the UofG campus their home for twenty years, and staff believe that the pair raised one chick this year.

Peregrine Falcon chick

The Peregrine Falcon chick

Peregrines Falcons are a highly protected species under The Wildlife and Countryside Act, and across the UK they are increasingly using historic buildings like the Gilbert Scott Tower to nest. The University took various measures to safeguard the Peregrine Falcon nest, including blocking staff and public access to the tower to allow the birds to raise the fledgling undisturbed.

In further efforts to contribute to the conservation of the Peregrine Falcon, University staff assisted in returning the falcon chick to the nest after it was spotted at the base of the tower. It is likely the bird was learning to fly because it landed unharmed on a grassy quadrant but was unable to return to the nest.

Peregrine Falcon Chick 3

Clarke Elsby safely handling the Peregrine Falcon chick.

Clarke Elsby, a Building Surveyor at the University of Glasgow, spotted the bird and reached out to his colleague Lynsey Paterson, a Conservation Building Surveyor, who has knowledge and expertise in handling wildlife. Together Clarke and Lynsey sought advice from the SSPCA, the Central Scotland Raptor Study Group and UK National Wildlife Crime Unit. An SSPCA animal rescue officer was able to gently capture, weigh and microchip the bird with assistance from Clarke and Lynsey. The data captured will contribute to future efforts to protect the Peregrine Falcon population.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcons can reach speeds of up to 180kpm while hunting.

Clarke said: “It was a very worthwhile day and I feel very lucky to have been in the right place and the right time to assist. There are conversations now happening around potentially installing a nest tray as this maybe a chance to secure the birds at the University of Glasgow for years to come”.

The University are waiting for the current nest site to be evacuated before installing a nest tray. It is hoped this will encourage Peregrine Falcons to return to the tower in future years.

The SSPCA advised that the fledgling be returned to a spot close to the nest site to allow the parent birds to care for it without disturbing the nest or driving the parents away. Clarke and Lynsey arranged access to the tower, and the team climbed the steps to return the fledgling. They successfully returned the chick and were rewarded with a fantastic view.

According to the RSPB, around 20 per cent of the European peregrine population breeds in the UK, and we therefore have an international responsibility to conserve this species. Thanks to SSPCA, The Scottish Raptor Study Group and the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit for their rapid response in supporting the University of Glasgow to protect the Peregrine Falcons nesting on campus.

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First published: 29 August 2022