Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)


       Around the 1970's, environmental groups, universities, governments and private donors began mobilizing worldwide to prevent the extinction of the peregrine falcon. DDT and other pesticides were removed from the North American market. Programs to raise falcons in captivity were initiated to rebuild the natural population.
        
       The Macdonald Raptor Research Centre, now known as the ASCC, was one of three breeding centres officially recognized in Canada by the National Peregrine Falcon Recovery Team of which David M. Bird is a member.  Beginning in 1976, as a way of harmonizing their effort, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Saskatchewan Cooperative Falcon Project, the Avian Science and Conservation Centre (ASCC) of McGill University and various provincial wildlife agencies undertook to raise young falcons in captivity with the hope of re-establishing the species in southern Canada. 
   
 
       Special techniques, including artificial insemination, artificial incubation (shown below) and hand-rearing of young falcons were developed to help the young falcons reach
adulthood. They were then released from special cages that gradually permitted them to acquire their freedom. Meanwhile, the ASCC conducted surveys of the tundrius subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon in Ungava Bay to ascertain that the population was healthy.        

  In the south between 1976 and 1990, 249 falcons raised in captivity were released into the wild along the St. Lawrence River. At the same time boxes for nesting were installed on the roofs of Montreal skyscrapers to send falcons the message that they were welcome.  In 1983 a pair raised two young falcons in the Francon Quarry in the east end of Montreal and the following year a pair began nesting successfully on the Montreal Stock Exchange Building (Place Victoria) in downtown Montreal. Since 1992, the nest has been constantly video-taped on a big-screen television in the lobby for the general public. It is part of a collaborative work with the law firm Martineau Walker, who, with the assistance of the ASCC, has set up The Peregrine Falcon Information Centre to educate the public on endangered birds. The species can now "fly" on its own.
        
        Today, most of the nesting pairs in southern Canada and in the eastern United States come from falcons raised in captivity, and the presence of healthy young falcons in the wild proves that it is possible to prevent the disappearance of a species.

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