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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007, 06:41 GMT 07:41 UK
Clock tower home for falcon pair
City Hall clock tower (pic courtesy of Cardiff Council)
Tall buildings like the clock tower mimic cliff edges, experts say
A clock tower on one of Cardiff's most iconic buildings has become home to a pair of peregrine falcons for the first time in nearly a decade.

The birds have taken over an abandoned raven's nest on the tower of City Hall in Cathays Park and experts hope there could be chicks hatching soon.

It is thought the birds arrived in the city during the winter and found it the perfect place to nest.

A camera is recording the activities of the nest 24-hours a day.

The nest is on the north face of the clock tower and experts think the high rise setting is ideal for the legally protected birds.

"Tall urban buildings like the clock tower mimic cliff edges where they would nest in rural areas," said RSPB officer Pete Etheridge.

"In the 1960s there was a crash in the population of Peregrines because of the pesticides being used at the time.

"But slowly the numbers are increasing and that's why we are seeing more and more birds heading to urban settings to nest."

Peregrine falcons are considered "magnificent hunters" and can reach speeds of up to 112 mph as they stoop to catch prey. They usually feed on smaller birds like feral pigeons and starlings.

Peregrine Falcon and young
Experts hope there will soon be chicks in the nest

"People are often genuinely surprised that these birds have chosen an urban location like Cardiff to nest in," added Mr Etheridge.

"It is true that peregrines are more usually found on cliff ledges or quarries, but City Hall is actually a great spot, in a high, inaccessible location where they will not be disturbed.

"The female is spending lots of time on the nest, so we are hopeful that she is incubating eggs."

The RSPB working with the National Museum Cardiff and Cardiff Council, have set up a large viewing screen inside the museum for visitors to see images of the nest.

The images are also available online.

It is hoped any eggs in the nest will hatch in May.

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