Really, it is one. My mother works in a nice, tall building in uptown Charlotte and discovered (back at the beginning of April) a pair of unknown birds hanging out on the ledge outside the 40th floor. She has sent me pictures of birds before and the most common ones she finds up there have been Black Vultures. This picture, though, was definitely not a vulture (and she picked up on that fast). What she found up there was a Peregrine Falcon! What she didn’t expect that day was the birds would actually build a nest, too! Even better, she was able to get the right people engaged and they installed a webcam so that we can all keep track of these fantastic birds.
Peregrine Falcons are one of the success of modern conservation. Their population numbers plummeted in the 1960’s and 1970’s due to the use of DDT. The chemicals that they ingested prevented them from being able to rear any offspring at all. Captive breeding programs through the 1970’s allowed populations to grow and disperse. By 1994, Peregrines came off the Federal Endangered Species list- a huge jump. Today, populations are continuing to grow and disperse.
So now that the birds are on the come-back trail and choosing nest sites that make for easy watching, we can keep track of them and see what happens. The next few weeks will be an important time in these birds lives, as they need to hatch, eat, grow and finally learn to hunt on their own. Young Peregrines in some populations have only about a 30% chance of surviving into their second year.
How this pair handles their young will be absolutely fascinating to watch!
Here’s what I’m curious about:
1. What kinds of foods do they bring back for the hatchlings?
2. Which parents hunts the most?
3. How long until the kids begin hunting on their own?
4. How cooperative are they in teaching the kids to hunt?
There’s some evidence of teaching behaviors in early hunting, but the evidence is still mostly anecdotal.
So here’s your job: watch the cam and post what you see them doing! If you see them bring back a pigeon or a squirrel, tell us all. Let’s keep track of what’s going on!
And if you’re looking for more information on raptors, check out the Carolina Raptor Center! They’ve got great information on all sorts of birds!