Peregrine Falcon – The Fastest Animal On The Planet

by Larry Jordan on April 14, 2009

Peregrine Falcon photos by Larry Jordan

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on earth, or should I say, above the earth.

This beautiful raptor was almost driven to extinction from the use of DDT, a popular pesticide used in the early 20th century.  The DDT interfered with eggshell production causing the shells be so thin that they broke during incubation or failed to hatch.  Beginning in the 1930’s Peregrine Falcon numbers were reduced until in 1970 there were a mere 39 breeding pairs left in the United States.

In 1970 the Peregrine Falcon was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 and by 1972, DDT was banned for most uses in the United States.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service established peregrine recovery teams made up of federal and state biologists, as well as independent biologists, to recommend actions needed to restore the Peregrine Falcon in the U.S.  Luckily for me, a good friend of mine was a wildlife biologist here in California in the 1980s when we met.  He took me to see a Peregrine Falcon nest on Shasta Lake and being in awe of this powerful raptor, my love of birds took flight.

I was fortunate to capture these Peregrine Falcon images at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge where this bird seems to be a permanent resident.  I don’t know if there is a breeding pair at the refuge but I am going to see what I can find out about that possibility.  This last image was one of my last shots of this falcon as the sun was setting over the refuge.  You can begin to see the color changes from the setting sun turning the grays to an amber brown.

The Peregrine Falcon is a success story brought about by the restrictions placed on the use of DDT, the protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act, and the reintroduction of captive-bred chicks.  A cleaner environment and the success of cooperative recovery efforts provide great promise of a bright future for the Peregrine Falcon in North America.

Here is a link to a Peregrine Falcon cam in Rochester New York with lots of good information and another interesting video showing a pair of peregrines raising their young in Peregrine Falcon Fantasia.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Marilyn Kelley April 14, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Great article and fabulous pics. We have a pair of falcons here in Fort Wayne, Roosevelt and Freedom and have watched them raise their beautiful babies for many years. They are truly one of God’s most beautiful creations.


AJ April 17, 2009 at 11:28 am

Excellent post, Larry! I learned quite a bit about the falcon, and, thanks to your style of writing, was highly entertained in the process.


Larry April 17, 2009 at 9:30 pm

@Marilyn that is so cool. We have a pair of Bald Eagles here in Redding, California that we are all watching raise their second set of offspring. Isn’t it great? I agree with you that the Peregrine Falcon is one of God’s most beautiful creations.

@AJ thank you very much for your kind words of encouragement


Kim (Kallen) April 18, 2009 at 12:58 am

Great photos of my favorite raptor! I love Peregrines! The video was great to look at. I am so used to seeing these falcons nesting on buidling ledges so it was nice to see them nesting whee nature intended.

Kim (Kallen)s last blog post..Injured Coopers Hawk in Downtown Worceter Today


delson April 18, 2009 at 5:36 am

Superb Post and loved the photograph where the light is reflected off the falcons eye. Amazing work

delsons last blog post..Canada Goose


Larry April 18, 2009 at 8:20 pm

@ Kim obviously one of my favs too. Thanks for the comment and great job with the Cooper’s Hawk!

@Delson thank you very much. It was a great photo day for me 😉


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