Friday, September 18, 2009

Peregrine Falcon

The first legal Peregrine Falcon take for falconry in 30+ years opens this Sunday in Oklahoma. The Peregrine had been the poster child of successful reintroduction efforts through the years and much of this was spearheaded by falconers. Peregrine numbers in much of the U.S. had dropped severely low due to the use of DDT, but recovered enough through the reintroduction process to be taken off the endangered species list in 1999.

Last night I got to thinking about the role that I played in the effort. It was a very small role; as a teenager I volunteered with the Peregrine Fund's project monitoring captive
raised juvenile Peregrine Falcons that were released in the downtown area of my home town, Fort Wayne, In.

For most of the summer I could be found, along with my brother, binoculars in hand watching these newbies take their first flights, make their first kills, and keep an eye on them for their own general well being. Peregrines traditionally nest on the sides of cliffs and coincidentally buildings are very much like a rock face to a falcon, coupled with the convenient food source, pigeons, cities make a good home for the birds. But cities are also more dangerous. A bird in the wild that goes to the ground has to be wary of predators but city falcons also have the added danger of traffic. Also several of the birds crashed into reflective windows where the falcons only saw the sky in until they were to close to stop. With the exception of a few birds, the majority had little problems living in the city and became very good at being wild.

We used this sheet identify the birds .
The wings were painted in a certain way that
allowed us to identify them from a distance.

Overall, the project was a huge success in the United States and elsewhere. It only took three years after their release for Peregrine Falcons to nest in Fort Wayne for the first time and they continue to nest there today, 13years later. That summer was one of the most memorable I have had. After that summer, falconry had me hooked.


Isaac said...

That's awesome. Are you planning on trying to trap one?

Ryan said...

I would love to, but I'm already flying two longwings, neither of which is experienced so to add another wouldnt be fair to any of us. Plus I kinda feel that Peregrine trapping just popped up on us and I was not prepared. I guess I never thought that it would happen before the new regs. We'll see what next year brings. Hopefully many others do though!