News

Manchester city centre peregrine falcon family gather flock of Twitter fans

By David Keyworth

A peregrine family, who live in the city centre, have now learned to ‘tweet’ in a different way.

They have gathered a flock of nearly 300 Twitter fans in less than a fortnight, with a little help from their human friends.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) approached Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) a year ago about improving their use of social media.

The MDDA decided to help the RSPB make more use of the motion sensor built-in to the camera which films the peregrines’ nest (also known as an eyrie).

When significant movement is detected, video clips are uploaded to Flickr and an automated tweet sent out.

Joanna Keene, the RSPB’s Manchester People Engagement Officer, said: “With four hungry, fast-growing chicks in the nest, there is rarely a dull moment.”

The RSPB say they think this is the first time birds have sent out ‘their own tweets’ to the site.

Perry Grin’s messages include such gems as: “Another day, another pigeon” and “It’s a good job we don’t have vertigo, living on our high rise apartment.”

The twitter project comes in the fifth year that the RSPB have run their viewing-stall in Manchester’s Exchange Square.

FEEDING TIME: The location of the nest is kept hidden to protect the birds

Between April and July, RSPB members give members of the public a chance to look through a powerful telescope and to see the nest on the BBC Big Screen on selected days.

Ms Keene said that it is impossible to predict who will stop by. She told us: “It can be business men on their lunch, people out with their family, it can really be anybody and everybody.”

The male peregrine often keeps a look out for pigeons from the letter E high up on the Arndale Tower.

Changing landscapes and farming methods have resulted in more of the falcons deciding to create their eyries on city towers, including New York’s Empire State Building.

Ella Dixon is an RSPB Information Assistant and can often be found on the Exchange Square viewing-stall. 

She told us: “A lot of people don’t realise peregrines are here.  They often think it’s a one-off thing or they’re not wild.”

Ms Keene explained that bird-lovers first became aware of Manchester’s peregrines in the 1990s.  This prompted the British Ornithology Trust to put out four nest boxes, one of which the birds eventually picked.

The location of the nests are kept secret.  Peregrines receive the highest degree of legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Peregrines usually mate for life and the majority stay within 100km of their birthplace. They dive at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

Manchester’s peregrines have already had more than 7,000 views on Flickr.

The MDDA is part of the City Council and develops the Digital Strategy for Manchester.

Mr Harding said: “We’re proud of our work on this project as we know it’s made a big impact on the people of Manchester and has also helped the RSPB reach a global audience with limited resources.”

Follow the peregrines on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/mcrperegrines.

For live streaming visit: www.ustream.tv/channel/livenest or www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature.

Video clips can be found on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcrperegrines/

Related Articles