A Cause For Celebration – Peregrine Falcons Return

June 27, 2009 by  

By Lowell Washburn

An Original Victim Of DDT Pesticide Contamination, Peregrine Falcons Vanished From Historic Mississippi River Nesting Cliffs During The 1960s. Wild Peregrines Are At Last Returning To Iowa. They Have Been Removed From The Federal Endangered Species List They Helped To Create, And Are Now Scheduled For Removal From Iowa’s List Of Endangered Species.

DES MOINES—Nearly a half century in the making, it was an outdoor celebration that no wildlife enthusiast would want to miss. The event took place last Wednesday as an official contingency of Native Americans, state legislators, state and federal wildlife biologists, environmentalists, falconers, and an extremely diverse group of folks who simply referred to themselves as “hawk heads and wild bird enthusiasts” gathered on the East Lawn of the Iowa State Capitol Building to commemorate the remarkable recovery of the peregrine falcon and to celebrate a proposal to remove the bird from the state’s list of endangered species.

Peregrine press conference at the capitol

Peregrine press conference at the capitol

No Hollywood screen writer could have scripted it better. Within minutes of when event speakers were scheduled to take the stage, the four young falcons that have been reared on a ledge immediately above the Capitol steps, decided the time was ripe for stealing the show. Under the anxious eye of their parents, the fledglings took to the air one by one. And although one youngster was forced to make a rather awkward landing in a nearby pine tree, none of the four ended up on the ground. With the first test flights successfully under their belts, the young peregrines couldn’t resist doing a series of repeat performances. The maneuvers did not go unnoticed by the binocular packing audience.

“I can see that many of you are looking up into the sky behind me,” joked Senator Dick Dearden, who chairs the state’s Natural Resources Committee.

“That’s all right,” said Dearden, as he turned from the podium to view the birds for himself. “The falcons are a lot more interesting than anything I’ll have to say and are the real reason we’re here.”

A Peregrine Falcon hunts over Des Moines

A Peregrine Falcon over Des Moines

DNR Wildlife Diversity spokesman, Pat Schlarbaum agreed that the aerial performance was indeed spectacular.

“The skies are no longer silent,” proclaimed Schlarbaum. “The peregrine falcon is back in Iowa.”

Schlarbaum also noted that Wednesday’s gathering was nothing short of a “significant historic event”.

“We’ve been able to maintain at least 10 active peregrine pairs every year since 2004. This year we have a total of 13 nesting territories in Iowa. So far, we’ve documented a total of 24 young this summer and there are three nests yet to go,” said Schlarbaum. “As top of the food chain predators, peregrines have never darkened the skies and the current numbers of nesting falcons are at historic levels and continue to grow.”

“This hasn’t happened by accident, and there are a lot of partners who deserve credit,” added Schlarbaum. “Iowa falconers [hunters who pursue wild game with trained raptors] have had a very strong interest in this project and played a key role through fund raising, securing captive bred baby peregrines, and then caring for the released birds as they learned to hunt for themselves.”

Onlookers admire a young peregrine in Des Moines

Onlookers admire a young peregrine in Des Moines

“It’s all paid off and the number of falcons currently nesting on artificial sites such as industrial smoke stacks, bridges, and urban structures such as the Capitol Building, far exceeds our wildest dreams,” said Schlarbaum. “But the best news is that peregrine falcons are returning to the Mississippi River cliff ledge nest sites of their ancestors. I think that the real success story is on those historic cliffs.”

Representatives of the Ho Chunk Nation agreed.

“Our people have strong ties to the [Mississippi River] blufflands, and the eagle and the falcon are an important part of our culture,” noted Bill Payer, a Ho Chunk Tribal Elder, from Black River Falls, Wisconsin. “Seeing the falcons return is a good thing.”

“We have known about the Iowa peregrine work for 15 years now, and this recovery is very important to us,” added Ho Chunk member, Pam Snowball.

“The birds are important to our culture. Bringing the falcon back is a good way for us to walk. It makes our hearts good,” said Snowball.

Want To See More Great Pictures Of Des Moines Falcons? Click Here…


One Response to “A Cause For Celebration – Peregrine Falcons Return”

  1. garylohrer on June 28th, 2009 10:27 pm

    it was a beautful vedio

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