Photo Credit Nature Conservancy of Canada
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Status: special concern
The peregrine falcon is one of the world’s fastest animals. Their dives, or stoops, have been clocked at speeds of 300 km per hour from heights of 1 km. Commonly found near the shore, they are also just as at home in metropolitan cities where they make swift work of pigeon populations. They are a medium sized bird, weighing in at about 1 kg. They are able to catch ducks and other medium sized birds, making them a favorite with hunters for thousands of years. In fact, the methods used by falconers to train and handle these raptors were essential for the species recovery. In the mid 20th century the use of the pesticide DDT, had catastrophic effects on peregrine populations. While not killing the birds outright, the buildup of toxins in the animal’s body caused egg shells to be weak, thus reducing the success of future generations. Captive breeding programs and reintroduction have allowed populations to bounce back and in 1999 Peregrines were removed from the Endangered Species List. In our own backyard, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has announced the successful fledging of 3 Peregrines at Old Baldy on Charleston Lake. While they are no longer considered threatened or endangered, the MNRF still tracks their populations. If you see one, please report it to the Natural Heritage Information Centre to help track and keep these majestic birds in our neighborhood.