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Aston University protecting on-campus Kestrel home

10 October 2008 – for immediate release

There’s more than education and research on the agenda at Aston University this autumn as measures are rolled out to protect their long-standing, resident family of kestrels.

For over fifteen years, several generations of kestrels have occupied the ceiling space of a technicians’ study room on the University’s city centre campus. With procedures now in place to refurbish the room for use next year, kestrel-friendly alterations are being made to the plans to preserve the birds’ habitat. The University are in talks with wildlife protection bodies to ensure the welfare of the birds remains undisturbed.

Kestrels are on the Royal Society for Protection of Birds’ amber list of conservation concern as a result of intensive farming practices and the subsequent destruction of their natural habitat. They regularly set up home in urban areas – commonly sheltered ledges on tall buildings or man-made nesting boxes - and the same nest site* is often used in successive years, with some sites used for decades.

Aston University are currently working with the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust to ensure that plans to refurbish the teaching room do not impact on the kestrels’ nesting area. Any alterations made to the room will be carried out before the New Year – well before the kestrels’ courtship rituals and the nesting season in the spring. Working with The Wildlife Trust, there are also plans in place to ring next year’s chicks for identification purposes – to monitor their movements and contribute to conservation research.

Garry East, Director of Estates and Facilities, Aston University, said:

“We’re doing everything we can at Aston University to ensure that our unusual campus residents are not disturbed in anyway. It’s imperative that the teaching room is refurbished and brought back into everyday use and by working closely with the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, we can ensure this is done without disturbing the kestrels’ habitat. At Aston, we’re passionate about conservation and the environment and this is just another way in which we can make a positive contribution to the planet.”

Paul Stephenson, Senior Ecologist, Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, added:

“It is marvellous that kestrels have lived at Aston University in the heart of Birmingham for many years. So we are really pleased to support Aston University in ensuring that their resident kestrels are protected, so they will have a safe home for many years to come.”

Aston University’s commitment to going green was recently acknowledged in a league table published in the Times Higher Education. The Green League Table, compiled by national campaign network People and Planet and published in July, cites Aston’s staggering jump up the league table in comparison to last year. In twelve months, the University has leapt from 93rd to 45th place – pitching Aston as the third top performing university in the region.

ENDS

For more information on Aston University contact Laura Plotnek, University Communications Team, Aston University on 0121 204 4549 or prtemp@aston.ac.uk.

www.aston.ac.uk

Notes to editors

* No nesting material is used by kestrels - but a small hollow in bare rock or stone known as a ‘scrape’.

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