Peregrine Falcon – The Fastest Animal On The Planet

by Larry Jordan on April 14, 2009

Peregrine Falcon photos by Larry Jordan

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on earth, or should I say, above the earth.

This beautiful raptor was almost driven to extinction from the use of DDT, a popular pesticide used in the early 20th century.  The DDT interfered with eggshell production causing the shells be so thin that they broke during incubation or failed to hatch.  Beginning in the 1930’s Peregrine Falcon numbers were reduced until in 1970 there were a mere 39 breeding pairs left in the United States.

In 1970 the Peregrine Falcon was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 and by 1972, DDT was banned for most uses in the United States.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service established peregrine recovery teams made up of federal and state biologists, as well as independent biologists, to recommend actions needed to restore the Peregrine Falcon in the U.S.  Luckily for me, a good friend of mine was a wildlife biologist here in California in the 1980s when we met.  He took me to see a Peregrine Falcon nest on Shasta Lake and being in awe of this powerful raptor, my love of birds took flight.

I was fortunate to capture these Peregrine Falcon images at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge where this bird seems to be a permanent resident.  I don’t know if there is a breeding pair at the refuge but I am going to see what I can find out about that possibility.  This last image was one of my last shots of this falcon as the sun was setting over the refuge.  You can begin to see the color changes from the setting sun turning the grays to an amber brown.

The Peregrine Falcon is a success story brought about by the restrictions placed on the use of DDT, the protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act, and the reintroduction of captive-bred chicks.  A cleaner environment and the success of cooperative recovery efforts provide great promise of a bright future for the Peregrine Falcon in North America.

Here is a link to a Peregrine Falcon cam in Rochester New York with lots of good information and another interesting video showing a pair of peregrines raising their young in Peregrine Falcon Fantasia.

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