Today is Endangered Species Day. Last year, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution declaring the third Friday of May each year to be celebrated as Endangered Species Day. We can celebrate by watching the peregrine falcons, a species that has recovered from near extinction and is a great success story.
What a difference a few days make! One week after banding, the chicks are losing their down, exercising their wings, walking, and they are almost as big as their parents!
No wonder the eyasses are growing so fast – SW and Boomer are giving them plenty to eat. Just look at this full crop! And notice the real feathers that are beginning to replace down.
In the following video, you can see a mother peregrine feed her eyasses. This family nests on a bridge over the Hudson River in New York. As you watch the clip, what observations can you make? Who gets fed first? Does the mother have a method in how she feeds her little ones? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Vyl5nQxYio
As the eyasses lose their down, it is replaced by brown juvenile feathers. Here are new wing feathers.
With the successful hatching and banding of 3 eyasses, it is a good time to remember the people who helped save the species peregrine falcon from extinction and to dedicate ourselves to the future. Thanks to dedicated biologists and citizen volunteers across North America, today we are able to watch peregrine falcon eggs hatch and eyasses grow to be adults -- but this was far from reality 40 years ago.
By 1970, due to the use of the pesticide DDT which caused eggshells to thin and eggs to break, peregrine falcons were going extinct in North America. One of the most important people that helped saved the species peregrine falcon - as well as other species such as the bald eagle - was Rachel Carson, a wildlife biologist and author. In her book, Silent Spring (1963), she warned of the danger of pesticides, especially DDT. This book was a wake-up call that helped lead to the banning of DDT in the U.S. and Canada in the early 1970s. Today, there is a skyscraper named in her honor, the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and peregrine falcons nest on this building. To learn more about Rachel Carson, go to: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=5...
Watch the FalconCams closely to monitor big changes. The young falcons will soon be out of the nest walking on the skyscraper ledges. This guy is stretching and flapping wings and thinking of flying.
Both parents are now out hunting for their very hungry youngsters. The Canadian Peregrine Foundation offers this information: "A study conducted at Cornell University demonstrated that females are more efficient hunters, because they can catch larger prey species, and therefore need to make fewer hunting expeditions, and as a result conserves energy. However, during incubation and while the chicks are young, the female spends most of her time at the nest, and does little hunting. The male therefore ends up providing most of the food during this time. The result of this is that when the chicks are young, they are fed small birds such as sparrows and starlings, whereas when they are older and need more food, the female begins to hunt again and brings larger prey such as pigeons and ducks".
For more information visit The Canadian Peregrine Foundation at: http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/
For more information on Endangered Species Day visit: http://www.stopextinction.org/esd.htmlhttp://www.stopextinction.org/esd.html
To watch the falcons live, visit: http://www.falconcam-cmnh.org/news.phpOur thanks to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for sponsoring the FalconCams and for the stills.
Photos are courtesy of Scott Wright, volunteer peregrine nest monitor. They may be used in any non-commercial publication, electronic or print, but please give photo credit.
For more about falcons, go to http://raptorsinthecity.org/