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peregrine falcon

peregrine falcon Crow-sized, grey, black and white bird of prey. It inhabits craggy open country or rocky coastlines and marshes or estuaries. The largest breeding falcon in Britain, it flies swiftly with prolonged glides. Length: to 48cm (19in). Family Falconidae; species Falco peregrinus.

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White, Peregrine

Peregrine White, 1620–1704, first child born to English parents in New England. He was born on the Mayflower as she lay at anchor in Cape Cod Bay on Nov. 20. He became a citizen of Marshfield, Mass., and held minor offices.

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peregrine falcon

peregrine falcon: see falcon.

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Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine falcon


The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus ), a bird of prey in the family Falconidae, is one of the most wide-ranging birds in the world with populations in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. However, with extensive pesticide use, particularly DDT, beginning in the 1940s, many populations of these birds were decimated. In the United States by the 1960s, the peregrine falcon was completely extirpated from the eastern half of the country because DDT and related compounds, which are amplified in the food chain/web , caused the birds' eggshells to become thin and fragile. This led to reproductive failures, as eggs were crushed in the nest during incubation. Prior to the DDT-induced losses, there were about 400 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons in the eastern United States. In the early 1970s there were over 300 active nests in the western states, but within a single decade that number dropped to 200. The numbers continued to decline, and in 1978 there were no breeding pairs of peregrine falcons in the eastern United States. By 1984, due to reintroduction efforts, there were 27 nesting pairs, and in 1985, 38 nesting pairs were present in the east with at least 16 pairs fledging young. Also in 1985, 260 young, captive-raised peregrine falcons were released into the wild, 125 in the eastern states, and 135 in the west. By 1986, 43 pairs were nesting, and 25 of those pairs fledged 53 young. By 1991, over 100 breeding pairs were found in the east, and 400 pairs were found in the west. The increase of peregrine falcons has brought the numbers up to 215 breeding pairs in the mid-west regions.

The recovery success of the peregrine falcon is due largely to the efforts of two groups, the Peregrine Fund based at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the Canadian Wildlife Service at Camp Wainwright in Alberta. Much of their research centered on captive breeding for release in the wild and finding ways to induce the falcons to nest and raise young in their former range. With great patience, and limited early success, the projects paid off.

The restoration projects also yielded much valuable information as well as innovative approaches to reestablishing peregrine falcon populations. For captive breeding, falcons trapped as nestlings stood a much better chance of reproducing in captivity than when trapped as flying immatures or adults. Since habitat destruction and human encroachment limit potential nesting siteswhich typically are cliff ledgesresearchers found that a potential, and ultimately successful, alternative nest site was the window ledge of tall, city buildings. These locations mimic their natural nest sites, and these "duck hawks," as they were once called, had a readily available prey in their new urban ecosystem . Peregrine falcons immediately began killing rock doves for food, which some saw as a service to the cities, since these "pigeons" tended to be regarded as a "nuisance" species .

Since it began in the 1970s, this captive breeding and release program has become well established, with over 4,000 captive-bred peregrine falcons released over the past three decades. In August of 1999, the peregrine falcon was removed from the Endangered Species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service .

[Eugene C. Beckham ]

RESOURCES

BOOKS


Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. Birds in Jeopardy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.

Ratcliffe, D. A. The Peregrine Falcon. Vermillion, SD: Buteo Books, 1980.


OTHER

The Peregrine Fund. [cited May 2002]. <http://peregrinefund.org>.

The Raptor Center. [cited May 2002]. <http://www.raptor.cvm.umn.edu>.

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Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Resources

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) is a bird of prey in the family Falconidae. It is one of the most wide-ranging birds in the world with populations in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, and occurring on all continents except Antarctica. It is also the worlds fastest-flying bird. Unfortunately, beginning in the 1940s, many populations of the peregrine falcon were decimated by the ecotoxicological effects of pesticide use, particularly DDT and other organochlorines. The concentrations of these chemicals become amplified in the ecological food web, severely affecting top predators such as the peregrine falcon. The organochlorines cause falcons to lay eggs with thin, fragile shells, as well as other physiological problems that led to reproductive failure and population decline.

By the 1960s the peregrine falcon was extirpated from the eastern half of the United States. Prior to the organochlorine-induced losses, there were about 400 breeding pairs of these falcons in that region. Similarly, during the early 1970s there were over 300 breeding pairs in the western states, but that dropped to 200 within a decade. (Populations in Alaska and northern Canada involve a different subspecies of the falcon, which was less affected by organochlorines.)

The peregrine falcon has benefited from programs of captive-breeding and release. Due to reintroduction efforts the species once again breeds in the eastern United States. In 1985, for example, 260 captive-raised young falcons were released to the wild, 125 in the eastern states and 135 in the west. By 1991, more than 100 breeding pairs were found in the eastern United States and 400 pairs in the west.

The recovery success of the peregrine falcon is due largely to the efforts of two groups, the Peregrine Fund based at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the Canadian Wildlife Service in Alberta. Much of their work centered on captive breeding for release into the wild, and finding ways to induce the falcons to nest and raise young in their former range. With great patience, and limited early success, the projects eventually paid off.

The restoration projects yielded much valuable information about peregrine falcons, as well as determining innovative approaches for re-establishing wild populations. For captive breeding, wild falcons trapped as nestlings stood a much better chance of reproducing in captivity than those trapped as flying immatures or as adults. In addition, researchers found that window ledges of tall buildings in cities were a useful site for releasing young falcons. These locations mimic the natural nest sites of peregrines on cliffs, and the birds have abundant prey in the urban ecosystem, particularly rock doves. Many people regarded this as a service to the cities, because the pigeons tend to be a nuisance species.

Since it began in the 1970s, the captive-breeding program has resulted in more than 4,000 young peregrine falcons being released to the wild. Because the widespread use of organochlorines is no longer allowed in North America, the habitat of the falcons has improved. In combination, these circumstances have allowed a substantial population recovery of peregrine falcons in North America. In 1998, there were at least 1,600 breeding pairs. Because of the population recovery, in 1998 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the peregrine falcon from its list of endangered species. It appears that this magnificent falcon is back from the brink of extinction in the continental United States.

Resources

BOOKS

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 2, New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1994.

Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. Birds in Jeopardy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.

Ratcliffe, D.A. The Peregrine Falcon. Vermillion, SD: Buteo Books, 1980.

Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf, 2000.

PERIODICALS

DeCandido, R., and D. Allen. Nocturnal Hunting by Peregrine Falcons at the Empire State Building, New York City. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 118 (March 2006): 53´58.

Loucks, B.A., and C.A. Nadareski. Back From the Brink. New York State Conservationist 59 (April 2005): 19´23.

Eugene C. Beckham

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Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine falcon

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) is a bird of prey in the family Falconidae. It is one of the most wide-ranging birds in the world with populations in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, and occurring on all continents except Antarctica . It is also the world's fastest-flying bird. Unfortunately, beginning in the 1940s, many populations of the peregrine falcon were decimated by the ecotoxicological effects of pesticide use, particularly DDT and other organochlorines. The concentrations of these chemicals become amplified in the ecological food web, severely affecting top predators such as the peregrine falcon. The organochlorines cause falcons to lay eggs with thin, fragile shells, as well as other physiological problems that led to reproductive failure and population decline.

By the 1960s the peregrine falcon was extirpated from the eastern half of the United States. Prior to the organochlorine-induced losses, there were about 400 breeding pairs of these falcons in that region. Similarly, during the early 1970s there were over 300 breeding pairs in the western states, but that dropped to 200 within a decade. (Populations in Alaska and northern Canada involve a different subspecies of the falcon, which was less affected by organochlorines.)

The peregrine falcon has benefited from programs of captive-breeding and release. Due to reintroduction efforts the species once again breeds in the eastern United States In 1985, for example, 260 captive-raised young falcons were released to the wild, 125 in the eastern states and 135 in the west. By 1991, more than 100 breeding pairs were found in the eastern United States and 400 pairs in the west.

The recovery success of the peregrine falcon is due largely to the efforts of two groups, the Peregrine Fund based at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the Canadian Wildlife in Alberta. Much of their work centered on captive breeding for release into the wild, and finding ways to induce the falcons to nest and raise young in their former range. With great patience, and limited early success, the projects eventually paid off.

The restoration projects yielded much valuable information about peregrine falcons, as well as determining innovative approaches for re-establishing wild populations. For captive breeding, wild falcons trapped as nestlings stood a much better chance of reproducing in captivity than those trapped as flying immatures or as adults. In addition, researchers found that window ledges of tall buildings in cities were a useful site for releasing young falcons. These locations mimic the natural nest sites of peregrines on cliffs, and the birds have abundant prey in the urban ecosystem , particularly rock doves. Many people regarded this as a "service" to the cities, because the "pigeons" tend to be a nuisance species.

Since it began in the 1970s, the captive-breeding program has resulted in more than 3,000 young peregrine falcons being released to the wild. Because the widespread use of organochlorines is no longer allowed in North America , the habitat of the falcons has improved. In combination, these circumstances have allowed a substantial population recovery of peregrine falcons in North America. In 1998, there were at least 1,600 breeding pairs. Because of the population recovery, in 1998 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the peregrine falcon from its list of endangered species . It appears that this magnificent falcon is back from the brink of extinction in the continental United States.

Resources

books

Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. Birds in Jeopardy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.

Ratcliffe, D.A. The Peregrine Falcon. Vermillion, SD: Buteo Books, 1980.

Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf, 2000.


Eugene C. Beckham

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