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Chicago too is fond of falcons

A story in our November issue, Peregrine Falcons Love High Buildings, told how the world's fastest birds nest in tall buildings in Brisbane (Australia) and in the US cities of New York, Columbus Ohio, Harrisburg Pennsylvania, Atlanta Georgia, and elsewhere.

"I was a little miffed to see that Chicago was excluded from your list," Richard Hugunine told us by email. "Chicago did, after all, give birth to the skyscraper.

"Here in Chicago, bird lovers and those of us who are amazed at the simple persistence of nature in the face of human onslaught have delighted in the fact that Peregrine Falcons have returned to Chicago!

"Seems they were driven to near extinction in this area in the 50s when DDT was the (untested) pesticide of choice.

"There are now at least two pairs that return to Chicago every year to breed on the ledges of one or other of our skyscrapers."

Stung into action by Richard's rebuke, we searched the internet once more, and discovered that the peregrine falcon is the City of Chicago's official bird.

We also found an interesting article on the website of Chicago's famous Field Museum, which began:

Step out on a ledge with Field Museum scientist Mary Hennen as she and her team climb some of Chicago's tallest skyscrapers to monitor our recovering population of Peregrine Falcons.

Once a federally endangered species, Peregrine Falcons had all but completely disappeared from the Midwest by the 1960s, due to the use of DDT. But over the last 20 years, Mary and her fellow team members on the Chicago Peregrine Program have helped to successfully reintroduce these beautiful birds back into the Midwest.

Currently, Illinois has 12 pairs of Peregrines, all which nest right here in the Chicagoland area. Join Mary and her colleagues as they spend the summer monitoring these nest sites, tracking parents, and watching offspring hatch, mature, and fledge (take their first flight). Through these observations, scientists can determine how well their efforts are working to create a self-sustaining population of Peregrines.

We told Richard of our findings. He replied: "Thanks for following up. I didn't know that Peregrines were released in Chicago - but it makes sense since we have no elevations here to speak of. (Chicago would be a perfect place to live in if only we had a mountain or two).

"I knew that the Cardinal was the official state bird, but did not know that the City of Chicago had the peregrine falcon!"




Story first posted January 2005

Copyright 2005

Eric Shackle

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