The peregrine falcon is a bird of prey, recognizable by its blue-gray wings, dark brown back and white face. It's a powerful raptor with a hooked beak and sharp talons. This falcon is the fastest flying bird in the world, diving up to 200 miles per hour. This beautiful bird has been subject to a number of human activities that has greatly reduced its population.
A significant cause of the peregrine falcon's endangerment is the use of the pesticide DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane). The pesticide was first used to rid head and body liceon soldiers during World War II. After the war, it was used as an agricultural pesticide. Peregrine falcons ingested large amounts of DDT from its prey. DDT causes falcon eggshells to thin, which meant many shells broke during the incubation period.
Although DDT played a huge part in significantly endangering the falcon's survival, other factors have also contributed to their lack of numbers in the wild. Habitat loss and destruction is a global threat for the raptor. For example, in Australia the loss of woodland trees where the peregrine falcon nests have had a negative effect on the bird's population.
Hunting of peregrine falcons during World War II contributed to a decline in the bird's numbers in Europe. During the war, military homing pigeons were used to send important message across the Continent, and peregrine falcons preyed on pigeons. So, the falcons were actively hunted. Up to 30 percent of the bird's population was wiped out.
Several steps have been taken to reduce the risk of the peregrine falcon becoming extinct. In the 1970s DDT was banned in the U.S. on environmental grounds. The effect it had on bird species was a large part why it was banned. The bird has been placed on many endangered species lists around the world that ban humans from hunting the animal. U.S. law also prohibits humans from trapping the birds and disturbing their nests.
- Defenders of Wildlife: Peregrine Falcon
- Pollution Issues: DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane)
- Legislative Assembly of Ontario: Peregrine Falcon
- Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities: The Peregrine Falcon
- "Peregrine Falcon"; James Enderson 2005
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
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