For the Birds Radio Program: Peregrine Release

Original Air Date: Feb. 16, 1989

1989 will be the last year captive-reared Peregrine Falcons will be released in Minnesota—a remarkably successful program.

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Peregrine Release

(Recording of a Peregrine Falcon)

One of the most frustrating aspects of making donations to any non-profit organization is that they never seem satisfied with what you give. In my family we figure out how much we can budget for various causes every December and send them each a check which seems pretty enormous to us: this year already we’ve gotten back envelopes asking for even more money from five different charities and environmental organizations. And it seems like the more we give, the harder they plead for more. Were children starving last year? A lot more have been born since then, and they still need food. Was Boston Harbor dirty last year? You should see it now. Were panda and elephant numbers dwindling last year? There’s even fewer now.

But for a refreshing change, I just got a letter from the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis asking for money for the last time ever. In conjunction with the Raptor Center and the Minnesota Nature Conservancy they started a program to establish a population of Peregrine Falcons in Minnesota, and the project has been so successful that 1989 is the last year for releases.

Thanks to the peregrine project, the fastest of all living creatures is back in the Midwest. Last year two pairs produced young in the Twin Cities, and at least one pair nested on a North Shore cliff not far from Duluth. Birds from the Minnesota release have also nested in Wisconsin and other midwestern states, and even Winnipeg, Manitoba.

As long as pesticide use is limited and shooting is prohibited, this symbol of wildness and freedom is perfectly willing to nest in large cities, using skyscrapers as their aeries. Probably the most famous urban peregrine was the “Sun Life Falcon” that nested for 16 years on Montreal’s Sun LIfe Building. The Peregrine Project in Minnesota has released young birds on the Multifoods Building in downtown Minneapolis, including “Fridge,” the female that successfully nested on a cliff north of Silver Bay last summer.

The Peregrine Falcon reintroduction project has been funded by private donations and money from the Minnesota D.N.R. Nongame Wildlife Program. In this final year they need to raise $48,240 in private donations. Contributions can be earmarked for this project and sent to the Bell Museum, the Raptor Center, or the Minnesota Nature Conservancy. Habitat loss, shooting, and, worst of all, D.D.T., completely extirpated the Peregrine from the eastern United States. Most environmental tragedies like this eventually end in complete extinction–isn’t it nice to hear an environmental story with a happy ending?

(Recording of a Peregrine Falcon)

This is Laura Erickson, and this program has been “For the Birds.”