The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird on earth. But its speed couldn't help it avoid the dangers of the pesticide DDT. By the 1970s, the species had declined as much as 80-90% across the US. Since the ban of DDT – and with the help of the Endangered Species Act – well, theyyyy're baaaack! And they've become urban birds.
Written by Ellen Blackstone
This is BirdNote!
[Cakking of Peregrine]
Peregrine Falcon – the fastest bird on earth. But its speed couldn't help it avoid the dangers of the pesticide DDT. By the 1970s, the species had declined as much as 80-90% across the US. Since the ban of DDT – and with the help of the Endangered Species Act – well, theyyyy're baaaack! And they've become urban birds.
From a low of only about five pairs in the entire state of Washington in 1980, there are now nearly 10 pairs in the Seattle area alone. The Bay Area is home to at least 35 nesting pairs. New York State boasts that "Peregrines nest on every Hudson River bridge south of Albany." In the Midwest, three-quarters of the Peregrine population nests on tall buildings.
[sounds of the city]
What’s the attraction? In addition to the rooftops, ledges, and bridges that must seem like cliffs to these wild creatures, Peregrines are drawn by the abundance of other city birds. Urban falcons rely almost totally on birds as food—especially Rock Pigeons. [Cooing of Rock Pigeon] They fill in with other birds, too – ducks, shorebirds, woodpeckers, jays, starlings, and yes – crows.
Danger lurks in the city canyons, though. Instead of Great Horned Owls or furry, four-legged predators, collisions with windows and other manmade objects are the greatest hazard, especially to young Peregrines.
[Cakking of Peregrine]
Visit a live webcam and see a Peregrine on its nest, when you come to our website, BirdNote.org.
Bird sounds provided by the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call of Peregrine Falcon [uned] recorded by G. Vyn; cooing of Rock Pigeon  A.L. Prioiri.
Theme music composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org May 2013 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# 052206PEFA PEFA-03b
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7059.html
NYC ½ bridges, 1/3 bldgs, 20% towers
Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: Recommended Citation: White, Clayton M., Nancy J. Clum, Tom J. Cade and W. Grainger Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithologyhttp://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/660 doi:10.2173/bna.660