Day 26 of 100 days of Blogging

The Peregrine Falcon is today’s choice for the Coolest Bird of Week. It is possesses a lightning-like dive speed that strikes fear into the hearts of pigeons everywhere, has a history of use in falconry dating back some 3000 years, and it is also much easier to find than our previously featured “coolest” birds! However, there’s an even more compelling reason for it to be highlighted here; the Peregrine also happens to have a unique history in the city of Montreal itself. Some of the following facts are from A Bird in the Bush, the official history book of the PQSPB. 

Coolest Bird of the Week

10 Things about the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

#1. The Sun Life Building in Montreal is cited as the location for the first ever authenticated record of Peregrine Falcons using a 
manmade urban structure for nesting. In 1936 a pair of Peregrines was first observed circling around the building. Two years later eggs were discovered scattered on the ledge of the 20th floor. 

#2. Eggs laid in 1938 and 1939 did not hatch and most rolled into the rain gutters. Nevertheless, the birds were observed in the vicinity throughout the year. In 1940 nest boxes were provided for the Sun Life birds in hopes of aiding successful hatching; the attempts were rewarded with the fledging of two young birds. 

#3. The Sun Life Building remained an active Peregrine eyrie until 1952. The presence of the falcons was not without its share of controversy. Headlines were made in newspapers across Canada and the US when workers refused to do maintenance work on the buildings, fearing attacks by the angry birds defending their territory. All manner of calls to kill the birds as well as advice on how to co-exist with them were freely offered to the building’s owners . Ultimately, the work was delayed until the nesting season was over!

#4. From the time of the first successful nesting in 1940 until 1952, 50 eggs were laid. Of these, 26 hatched and 4 hatchlings died before fledging. In the later years a number of unsuccessful nesting attempts were observed. In 1949 the female was observed eating her eggs.

#5. The birds disappeared from Montreal and the Sun Life building in 1953, and this is generally attributed to the DDT pesticide use that affected this specie’s population declines worldwide. Fortunately, conservation measures and legislation banning organochlorine pesticides in the 1970’s allowed for population comebacks. 

#6. The Peregrine returned to Montreal in 1983 and today it is commonly found to nest in numerous locations in the area. 
Overall, the Peregrine is the most widespread raptor in the world. It can be found from the Arctic tundra to the tropics. It is observed along mountain ranges, river valleys, coastlines, and increasingly in cities. 

#7. The Peregrine eats almost exclusively medium-sized birds, but will occasionally hunt small mammals, small reptiles, or even insects.
The male and female have similar markings and plumage, but the female is about 30 % larger.

#8. It is considered to be the fastest animal, not just bird, in the world. Although estimates vary, diving speeds of more than 300 KM/h have been cited.  

#9. The peregrine falcon has a long history with Falconry dating back over 3000 years. It continues to be used widely by falconers; valued for applications such as bird population reduction programs around airports. Since there are now wide-spread captive breeding programs, removing falcons from the wild has become largely unnecessary.  

#10. Play the video to see the Peregrine in action!