Urban roosts, DDT ban help boost numbers
Just five decades ago, habitat loss and a deadly pesticide had all but killed off one of the Midwest’s most impressive aerial predators.
Now, Indiana’s wildlife regulators are poised to remove the peregrine falcon from the state’s endangered species list this summer.
John Castrale, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said the recovery of the species has been “phenomenally successful,” thanks to reintroduction efforts, a ban on the pesticide that was killing the birds and the falcons’ remarkable ability to adapt to urban environments.
Indianapolis is no stranger to the falcons. Just last week, a nesting pair, dubbed KathyQ and Will, hatched their fourth chick of the year on the 31st-story ledge of Market Tower on Monument Circle in Downtown Indianapolis. Another male, named Kinney, had nested with KathyQ for years, but died last summer.
An Indianapolis Star blog featuring live cameras received 7.1 million views last year. The pair have Facebook fan pages, too, each with more than 1,000 “likes.”
There’s another nest at Indianapolis Power & Light Co.’s Harding Street plant on the Southwestside; that nest also is on camera.
Castrale said the birds have traded their traditional nesting sites — in cliffs and bluffs along riverbanks — for skyscrapers.
“They’ve adapted to use these artificial sites, artificial cliffs,” he said of the birds’ penchant for skyscrapers. “That’s really made a difference. They’re really taking advantage of it.”
Falcons, known for their dazzling diving aerial attacks on prey such as pigeons, can plummet at close to 200 mph to strike, stun and kill an unsuspecting bird.