Threatened and Endangered Species Week: Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) have had a long, bumpy history in Michigan. Historically before wide use of DDT in pesticides we had 13 known nesting sites, eyries, in northern Michigan mostly on the cliffs of the Upper Peninsula. But when DDT in pesticides began being widely used in the 50s, a 1964 survey revealed that there were no peregrine falcons left east of the Mississippi.
Eventually DDT was banned and the Eastern Peregrine Recovery Team was formed in 1975 to bring them back to the eastern United States. The program began re-introducing birds to the east and 400 of them were placed around the upper Midwest. So far, 139 peregrine falcons have been release in Michigan, 108 in the U.P. and 31 in urban areas.
In Europe falcons have been found in castles and cathedrals, along with skyscrapers and bridges in the eastern U.S. These birds are able to thrive in cities due to the abundant prey of pigeons and starlings. They also use the tall buildings in urban areas to hunt. Peregrine falcons attack their prey by diving from far above, catching them mid-flight. During these dives, or “stoops”, they can reach speeds of up to 180 mph.
Historically they were never found in cities here in Michigan, but their placement in Detroit, Lansing, and Grand Rapids has turned out to be a success. Here in Lansing pairs of peregrines have successfully raised chicks on top of the Eckert Power Station. You can read updates on them and see a live of their nest HERE http://www.lbwl.com/falcon.aspx.

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