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Youngsters challenged to champion threatened birds
12:28pm Friday 11th October 2013 in News
A CHARITY is urging children to champion England’s most threatened bird of prey after the only two pairs which attempted to nest in the North this year failed to breed.
The RSPB has launched the Hen Harrier Hero Awards, a new scheme where children and young people are encouraged to carry out a activities relating to hen harriers and their moorland home.
Hen harriers, which are also known as sky dancers due to their courtship displays, have historically bred across the North Pennines and the North York Moors, and part of the North Pennines is a Special Protection Area.
The last pair to successfully nest in the North-East was in 2008 and this year, hen harriers suffered their worst breeding season in England for five decades, failing to raise a single chick.
An RSPB spokesman said while there is enough suitable habitat in English uplands for at least 300 pairs of hen harriers, their tendency to eat red grouse meant some shooting estates disturb or kill the birds to protect their stock.
Newcastle-based RSPB officer Blanaid Denman, who set up the free scheme which is open to individuals, families, youth groups and schools, said raising awareness about the breed through the award scheme would help reconnect children with nature.
She said: “Hen harriers are in desperate need of heroes.
“They’ve been an integral part of British wildlife since records began, yet most people have never even heard of them.”
To become a Hen Harrier Hero, children need to complete six activities from a choice of 15, which are outlined on rspb.org.uk/henharrierhero.
These include visiting a moor, designing a hen harrier poster and hosting a fun day.
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