Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Peregrine Falcon Tracking

The Peregrine Falcon. Truly, this bird is the classic example of how much we humans impact other species, both good and bad. From the brink of extinction due to the over-use of the egg-shell-thinning chemical DDT, these raptors have made a remarkable comeback. With loads of assistance from conservation organizations, environmental groups and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Peregrine's survival has been assured and maintained.In particular, the USFWS has monitored, protected, breed and released the US Peregrine population back to healthy numbers. And though they are still very much protected, Peregrine Falcons can be found (if you're lucky and spend a lot of time looking at the sky) year-round here on the East Coast.These maps, courtesy of FALCONTRAK, show the incredible distances that these birds travel. As you can easily see, these falcons like to roam. Peregrine, from it's Latin origin, means a "traveler, wanderer."Enjoy this video of Craig Koppie banding and giving a health assessment to some Peregrine Falcons in our region. CLICK HERE.

Maryland's neighbor to the South, the Commonwealth of Virginia, has an interesting program called FALCONTRAK. FalconTrak is a cooperative project designed to answer a collection of questions about the movements and survival of Virginia peregrines. It is all a part of the much larger organization, The Center for Conservation Biology, a research and education organization within the Department of Biology at the College of William & Mary.If you're so inclined, you can even SPONSOR a falcon. Why, you ask? Well, the process of utilizing satellite telemetry to track young falcons throughout their annual cycle with the use of solar-powered satellite transmitters that are fitted to the backs of peregrines before fledging... I'll be it can get a bit expensive. And since these birds are going to be tracked for a period of 3 years to determine survivorship, movement patterns, and eventual breeding locations, your financial assistance would probably be more than welcome by the folks performing the research.Still not convinced? Check this out: you can go online and track these birds yourself HERE.There is a lot more information available on the VA FALCON'S MAIN WEBSITE.As for me, I'm just looking forward to observing our local Peregrine's as they attempt to increase the population. I often wonder what ever became of the little Peregrine chick that I swam with that summer day back in 2007?She was an adorable, albeit a slightly loud, falcon. I can still feel her talons in squeezing my pinky finger and hear that scream she let out while driving in my Volvo. It was only after I went into great detail about the numerous safety features of the Volvo did she finally quiet down. What a bird.-Dan

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