Missouri Falconers Association - Members Site

Home | August 29, 2004 | October 2004 Newsletter | Dec 11, 2004 | February 2005 Newsletter | October 2005 Newsletter | February 2006 Newsletter | May 2006 Newsletter



By Greg Austin


The year of 2004 was a milestone of sorts for falconers in the United States.  On March 4, 2004 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced, "Having reviewed 945 comments from the public and from Federal and State agencies on the draft Environmental Assessment, we prepared a final Revised Environmental Assessment, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Our preferred action is to allow the take of 5% of annual [Peregrine] production in western States. The take is to be based on the most recent population data for each State. Assuming the average of 1.36 young per nesting attempt, the maximum take of nestlings under the proposed action alternative in initial years of the plan would be about 101 young."


Unfortunately for many falconers, the take is limited to the states in the western U.S. where Peregrine populations have been deemed to have "recovered."  Here in Missouri, the wild Peregrine population still recovering.  Maybe some day Missouri falconers will be able to take Peregrine falcons from the wild...and with a little help from the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis and the Missouri Department of Conservation, that day will be sooner rather than later. 


For the 2004 hatch, the World Bird Sanctuary released a total of 7 Peregrines (5 tiercels and 2 falcons) at two different hack sites in the St. Louis area.  The Peregrines came to the World Bird Sanctuary from two different breeders - three from one breeder and four from another.  The birds were put in the hack box at around 35 days old.  A barred front to the hack box kept the pre-flight youngsters from falling out while allowing them the opportunity to get used to their new surroundings.  At about 42 days old, the barred front came off the hack box and the Peregrines were allowed to explore (under the watchful eye of World Bird Sanctuary employees and volunteers).  Each young Peregrine was equipped with a radio transmitter attached by a bewit to the bird's leg.  Fortunately, all of the transmitters were on slightly different frequencies in the 216 MHz range to allow for easy identification of each individual bird.  Especially during the early days of their newfound freedom, the Peregrines' whereabouts were constantly monitored.  This is necessary in case a Peregrine falls or flies from the hack box and doesn't have the strength or flight skills to get back up to the box before dark.  A Peregrine on the ground after dark is potential prey for a variety of predators (raccoons, coyotes, Great Horned Owls, etc.)


The birds were fed a high-quality diet of Japanese quail - more early on as the birds were developing flight feathers and muscle mass, and less later when they were beginning to make kills on their own and "eating away from home."  Watching the young Peregrines play tag with each other as they learn to fly was the highlight of my summer.


The Missouri Department of Conservation's website has some additional information related to efforts to restore the Peregrine's population in Missouri.  The MDC's website says the following:

"The Missouri Department of Conservation [Peregrine] Restoration Project in Kansas City resulted in several nesting attempts...they have successfully nested in Omaha, Des Moines and Wichita. The World Bird Sanctuary Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project in St. Louis has experienced more success. Four nests sites were located between 1991 and 1996 in the St. Louis area. The first nest was found in 1991 when a pair of Peregrine Falcons nested on the Bell Center building, according to a personal conversation with Mike Cooke of the World Bird Sanctuary. Since then, St. Louis-released Peregrines have occupied and successfully raised young in three other nest sites in the St. Louis area, located on buildings and a bridge." (http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/nathis/birds/birdatlas/maintext/0400063.htm)                      

Some current information from the Kansas City area indicates that the Peregrine restoration efforts on the west side of Missouri are also proving fruitful.  Norma Jean Haynes pointed out the fact that the Kansas City area also produced birds this year. The Kansas City-area Friends of the Lakeside Nature Center newsletter, Autumn 2004 issue, notes:


"Kansas City has its second breeding pair of peregrine falcons. The first pair is still nesting downtown on the Commerce Tower. Last year, the original male died, but a new male has taken its place. The Commerce pair fledged 2 youngsters this year. The new pair of peregrine falcons is nesting on the south side of the Plaza on a residential apartment building. In 2002 and 2003, the Plaza falcons failed to hatch and raise young. But this year, they successfully raised two youngsters." 

(Carla Bascom-Hogan, Friends of the Lakeside Nature Center newsletter, Autumn 2004 issue)


(Editor's note:

Carla Bascom-Hogan also states in the newsletter the Adult female who hatched two chicks this year at the Plaza, has been identified by her band numbers. This means she has proven to be a granddaughter of one of the females originally released on the Commerce Bank building downtown Kansas City in 1992.--Norma Jean Haynes )


With the various restoration programs underway and the wild Peregrine population continuing to gain ground, Lord willing, in our lifetimes some of us may have the opportunity to take a Peregrine from the wild in Missouri to use for falconry.  I can't wait to see what 2005 brings!