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Peregrine Falcon Program

two peregrine falcons perched
Photo credit Mike Feller

Eyasses (Falcon chicks)


Peregrine falcons are listed as an endangered species in New York State. They were eliminated as a nesting species in the state by the early 1960s, due mainly to pesticide (DDE) residues in their prey. The release of young captive bred birds from 1974-1988 helped lead to their return as a nesting species. Peregrines first returned to nest on two bridges in New York City in 1983. Two years later, in 1985, they were again nesting in the Adirondacks.

The population has grown steadily since that time. By 2003 there were close to 50 pairs present statewide. New York City may now have the largest urban population of peregrine falcons anywhere. Peregrines nest on every Hudson River bridge south of Albany. Peregrines currently nest on buildings or bridges in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, and Buffalo. There are about twenty pairs present in the Adirondacks on cliffs.

peregrine nest box on a bridge
Photo credit Dave Gardner


Many of these sites need annual management to protect the birds during the nesting season. For example, necessary bridge maintenance work must be conducted in a manner that does not prevent the falcons from nesting successfully. Falcons do not build stick nests like most hawks and the eggs can roll off bridge girders or get broken on window ledges. Wooden nest boxes filled with gravel are placed at many of the sites to increase productivity. These boxes need periodic replacement. Some Adirondack cliff climbing routes have to be closed for several months in the summer when they are too close to an active peregrine nest. This is both for the sake of the birds' nesting success and the safety of the climbers who may be dived on by the aggressive adults.

Due to all these human impacts, peregrine falcons will have to be protected for many years to come if we are to continue to enjoy their presence in New York.

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