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Urban wildlife: when animals go wild in the city

18 / 11 / 2014, The Guardian

Tall buildings, abundant food sources and a lack of predators make modern cities a natural habitat for many birds and animalsPerching on the side of an old power station chimney with St Paul’s Cathedral to the north and the Shard, Europe’s tallest building, to the east is not where you might expect to glimpse the world’s fastest bird. Yet Tate Modern, and London landmarks including Battersea Power Station and the Houses of Parliament, have been home for several years to peregrine falcons. A surprising flash of the wild in the heart of the city, the powerful bird of prey is also a specialised hunter of feral pigeons, considered such an urban pest that in 2003 a ban was imposed on feeding them in Trafalgar Square.With cities’ abundant food sources and tall buildings providing a predator-free equivalent of the species’ traditional cliff-side home, the raptor’s success has extended far beyond the capital. Having colonised urban areas from Aberdeen to Cardiff, ecologists now believe it is only a matter of time before peregrine falcons are breeding in every major UK town and city. Related: Birdwatch: Peregrine falcon Related: UK green spaces worth at least £30bn a year in health and welfare, report finds The capital has been losing the equivalent of 2.5 Hyde Parks a year Continue reading...

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