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For Release: Friday, July 27, 2012

DEC Biologists Band Recently Hatched Peregrine Falcon Chicks in Buffalo

15 Chicks Banded this Summer

Early this summer, wildlife biologists from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) successfully accessed five local Peregrine Falcon nesting sites where they carefully examined and banded 15 recently hatched chicks.

The following is a summary of recent local Peregrine Falcon banding activities:

  • Statler Towers - two females and two males banded on May 30
  • South Grand Island Bridge - one female banded on May 31
  • North Grand Island Bridge - three females and one male banded on May 31
  • Buffalo Central Terminal - two females banded on June 24

"We are extremely fortunate to have a growing Peregrine Falcon population in our area," said Connie Adams, DEC Senior Wildlife Biologist. "The increase in nest sites locally is encouraging evidence of this species' resurgence and reaffirms the success of restoration efforts."

Banding young Peregrine Falcons provides biologists with important information on the birds' movements and survival, and is useful in understanding their year-round habitat needs. The banding process involves briefly removing the chicks from the nest when they are about three weeks old and gently placing a color-coded metal band around one of their legs and an aluminum U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service band on the opposite leg. These bands are uniquely lettered and numbered so that the birds can be identified and data can be collected on their movements, population, feeding habits and survival. After banding, the birds are immediately returned to their nest and the care of their parents.

Western New York is home to seven Peregrine Falcon nesting sites: the Statler Towers building in downtown Buffalo, the North and South Grand Island Bridges, the Buffalo Central Terminal, the University at Buffalo's MacKay Tower, and a newly discovered possible nest site at a grain elevator on Buffalo's waterfront. The seventh site is a nest on the Canadian side of the Niagara Gorge and, while it is managed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, it is regularly monitored by DEC Wildlife staff and volunteers. Biologists from the OMNR and the Canadian Peregrine Foundation banded four chicks, three females and one male, at this site on June 7.

Peregrine Falcons typically build their nests on high ledges or cliffs that are 50 to 200 feet off the ground, but are also known to readily adopt artificial nest boxes placed on tall buildings or bridges in urban areas where cliff sites are unavailable. Unlike hawks that build their nest with sticks, Peregrine Falcons simply make a shallow depression, called a scrape, for the eggs in gravel substrate is available. Nesting Peregrine Falcon pairs mate for life and typically return to the same nesting site year after year. Peregrine Falcons feed almost entirely on birds and catch their prey in flight; they are known for their dramatic dives on prey that can exceed speeds of 200 miles per hour.

Classified as an endangered bird species in New York State, Peregrine Falcons were completely eliminated from the Eastern United States in 1964, due mainly to DDT pesticide residues in their prey which resulted in reduced breeding success. Thanks to state and federal bans on the use of DDT and reintroduction efforts started in New York State and followed by other eastern states, this species' population is recovering steadily. Additional information on Peregrine Falcons is available on DEC's website.

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