FEATHERS have been ruffled after peregrine falcons were encouraged to nest at Beverley Minster.
Garden bird lovers and pigeon fanciers have criticised the church for allowing the RSPB to install a bird box on top of the minster.
The box was installed this month after a pair of peregrines were spotted in residence at the minster.
But Beverley resident Annie Cox, 69, who lives near Beverley Minster, claimed the falcons are preying on song birds.
She said: “When we moved to Minster View we were delighted to wake to the dawn chorus.
“It was wonderful until summer, when falcons were introduced to control feral pigeons around the minster, we had blackbirds raising their young and variety of small birds – even the endangered sparrow.
“I’m disabled with severe osteoarthritis and had great pleasure watching birds at the feeder in the front garden. Now there are no birds to eat the seed.”
Mrs Cox said she has put up net curtains so she cannot see piles of feathers in the garden.
She said: “All that is left are piles of feathers and one pair of blackbirds and wood pigeons in our garden.”
Mrs Cox said she was distressed when she found out peregrine falcons were being encouraged to nest at the minster.
She said: “Falcons and other raptors have no place in towns and should be returned to their natural environment in the countryside where they can live on rabbits and rodents rather than decimating the small bird population, which is already at risk.”
Local pigeon fanciers are also upset about the peregrine falcons preying on other birds.
John Baker, who keeps racing pigeons, said: “It is very nice to see peregrine falcons flying, but they eat pigeons and song birds.
“They pluck them alive and pull them apart.
“Churches are not their normal habitat and I personally think the vicar is out of order letting this happen. Is he not supposed to love all creatures?”
Minster Vicar Reverend Jeremy Fletcher said: “I am not an expert, but I think sparrowhawks have much more impact on garden birds.
“The peregrines adopted the minster towers last year as a place to roost and hunt from. They came of their own accord.
“It appears peregrines are protected so if you have them you can’t do anything about that, you are required by law not to affect them.
“One of the reasons it is good for us is having peregrines at the building scares off feral pigeons, which cause damage to the stonework.”
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