Peregrine Falcons

City of South Bend Peregrine Falcon Cam

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About the Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine Falcon is a medium-sized bird about the size of a crow. Adult birds are 15 to 20 inches tall, with females being one-third larger than males.  The falcons have a wing span of 36 to 44 inches. Their long pointed wings, tail, and strong 'rowing' wing beats are distinctive in flight. Once almost wiped out due to DDT, Peregrines have made a strong comeback through captive breeding and reintroduction programs.

In 1993, South Bend was the site of a Department of Natural Resources reintroduction, releasing and monitoring 15 young captive-bred birds as they became familiar with a life in the wild.

Historic sites were along cliff and river bluffs and, although they still use these locations, they have made good use of tall city buildings which mimic those high altitudes environments. Cities also provide an abundant food supply of birds- pigeons, sparrows, starlings, and other species as well. A Peregrine diving on prey can attain speeds of 200 mph, making it the world's fastest living animal.  View a National Geographic story highlighting the flying capabilities of the Peregrine.

The falcons raise a brood each year and remain here through the winter. Incubation of the 3 or 4 eggs takes approximately 32 days, with the female performing most of the incubation, while the male provides food and relieves her for short periods of time. The chicks are banded at 21 to 25 days old, and fledge the nest around 40 days. As fledging approaches, the young birds can be seen out on the front of the nest box and on the perch that extends outward. They are usually flying very well within a week, following and interacting with the parents, and will leave the area in another six weeks.

The word peregrine means 'wanderer.'  The young birds will wander until they are two years old, then find a mate and raise their own offspring.

Peregrine Falcons Removed From Indiana Endangered Species List

In October 2013, the peregrine falcon was taken off the Indiana endangered species list and is now considered a “Species of Special Concern”.  They were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999 and the federal delisting plan requires monitoring through 2015.  As with most other wild birds, peregrines are still protected from harm by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws.

The recovery of peregrine falcon populations is truly amazing and it took efforts from large numbers of people.  Without building and plant managers permitting biologists to erect nest boxes and allowing the birds to nest with minimal disturbance, this would not have happened.  The peregrine falcon is still a relatively rare nesting bird in Indiana and the Midwest, and a large portion of the population depends on nest boxes in urban and industrial areas.  Removing nest boxes could quickly result in a population decline or force the birds to nest in sites that could be much more troublesome for plant managers.

It is anticipated the falcons will be monitored as in past years, and the Indiana DNR hopes site managers with nesting falcons will continue to maintain nest boxes and protect the birds from undo disturbance.  Peregrines have a large following of people who enjoy them and are concerned about their welfare.  Because many of the locations where peregrine nests are associated with industries often criticized by environmentalists, the presence of nesting peregrines is a great opportunity to show an environmentally positive side at these locations.