Peregrine Falcon

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"Every American should be proud. In 25 years, the people of the United States have rescued this awesome raptor from the brink of extinction...We don't have to stand idly by and watch our wildlife go extinct...We have proved it with the peregrine falcon."

- Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Aug. 25, 1998

Facts

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Scientific Name: Falco pereginus
Habitat: Open country with high ledges or rock cliffs; cities.
Adult Weight: 1-1.5 lbs. male; 1.6 - 2.1 lbs. female
Adult Body Length: 14 - 18 inches
Nesting Period: April - May
Broods Per Year: 1
Clutch Size: 3 - 4 eggs
Life Expectancy: 12 - 15 years
Foods: Primarily birds, but also rodents, and insects

Notes

Peregrine falcons can be found on all continents except Antarctica. Three subspecies are found in Ohio. They bring a feeling of awe to anyone who watches them fly and hunt. In level flight, they can fly about 60-mph. Peregrines hunt on the wing (birds that are flying.) When they dive after their prey, they can reach speeds of over 200 mph.

History

Settlement

There are no historical nesting records known for peregrine falcons in Ohio.

20th Century

Between the 1940s and 1960s, pesticides, like DDT, hurt peregrine populations. Falcons ate birds that had eaten poisoned insects. The poisons built up in the adults and caused eggshells to become too thin to incubate. Fewer and fewer peregrines hatched.

There were fifty-two annually recorded birds from 1927 to 1939 but only one annually recorded falcon from 1940 to 1967. Peregrine falcons, for the most part, had disappeared from the eastern United States by 1965. It was placed on the Endangered Species list in 1970.

In 1993, the tax-funded Ohio Division of Wildlife's Peregrine Falcon Management Program began for the sole purpose of protecting the species. Peregrine falcons were banded and released in metropolitan areas such as Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati. The falcons were provided nesting boxes atop downtown buildings, similar to the high ledges on which they naturally nest. The falcons prey on pigeons, doves, bluejays, and ducks.

These falcons have paired with other released birds, from several states, and have begun to breed successfully across the United States. The Columbus pair has been responsible for raising 19 young since 1994. In 1998, Ohio recorded eleven pairs of peregrine falcons and seventeen young.

See Also

References

  1. Peterjohn, John. The Birds of Ohio; Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN; 1989.