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North Dakota's

Federally Listed Endangered, Threatened, and Candidate Species – 1995

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum)

JPG -- species photo gif--species map

Official Status: Endangered (North Dakota)
Endangered species are species that are in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range. It is unlawful to kill, harm, or harass endangered species.

35 Federal Register 8495; lune 2, 1970

Historical Status:
The peregrine falcon was historically found on all continents except Antarctica. Most of the historic nesting records in North Dakota are from the western half of the state and the Turtle Mountains area. Peregrine falcons have not nested in North Dakota since a pair nested southwest of Medora in 1954.

Present Status:
Peregrine falcon populations are reduced worldwide. Breeding populations have been extirpated in large portions of the United States. In North Dakota, transient birds are occasionally reported. In the summer of 1990 a pair of peregrine falcons inhabited the downtown area of Fargo for over a month. No nesting attempt was reported.

Peregrine falcons will use almost any habitat type that provides hunting opportunities. For nesting purposes, peregrine falcons prefer habitats with cliffs. Peregrine falcons have been known to nest and hunt in cities with tall buildings.

Life History:
Sexual maturity occurs at 3 years of age. Peregrine falcons usually nest in depressions on the edge of cliffs. These sites are known as aeries. Some aeries in Europe have been occupied for more than 300 years. Peregrine falcons my use nests built by eagles, hawks or other birds. Peregrine falcons have also nested on tall buildings. A clutch of 3 to 4 eggs is laid in April. Incubation lasts about 33 days with both adults partaking in incubating and feeding the young. Young birds can fly in 35 to 42 days. Prey of peregrine falcons consist of pigeons, ducks, blackbirds, and other birds. Peregrine falcons swoop down on their prey and strike it with their talons. Peregrine falcons may be the fastest animals in the world, reaching speeds up to 200 miles per hour in a dive.

Aid to identification:
Peregrine falcons are the size of a crow. They have a dark blue to slate gray back, white throat, black facial markings, and spotted or barred belly. They have long, pointed wings and rapid wingbeats. Peregrine falcons can be identified from prairie falcons and merlins by their larger size and more distinct facial markings.

Reasons for decline:
A rapid decline occurred in the 1950's and 1960's due primarily to egg-shell thinning caused by accumulation of pesticide by-products, especially those from DDT. DDT was banned in the United States in 1973. Presently, the loss of habitat, human disturbance, shootings, pesticides, and energy development pose threats.

Report injured birds to a wildlife agency. There are several raptor rehabilitation centers that ean care for injured birds. Report any suspected nests to a wildlife agency. Do not disturb an active nest.

The subspecies of peregrine falcon found in North Dakota is the American peregrine falcon. Arctic peregrine falcons occasionally migrate through North Dakota at which time they are listed as endangered. Peregrine falcons have been raised in captivity and then released into the wild (known as hacking). Peregrine falcons are used in falconry.

American Peregrine Falcon Recovery Plan (Rocky Mountain Southwest Populations) by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1984.

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