Species at Risk
Peregrine Falcon (anatum subspecies)
What is the status of the Peregrine Falcon?
Peregrine falcons (anatum subspecies) were classified as endangered in 1978 by the COSEWIC. The success of recovery efforts by the Canadian Wildlife Service and other partners resulted in a downlisting of the anatum subspecies to threatened in 1999. In 2005, it was estimated that there were 800 nesting pairs (anatum subspecies) in Canada.
Why is the Peregrine Falcon in danger?
Peregrines are excellent hunters, feeding almost entirely on birds, usually catching their prey in mid-flight.
© Parks Canada / W. Lynch / 09.90.10.02 (63) / 1987
As predators at the top of the food chain, peregrines accumulate environmental toxins. Widespread use of DDT in the 1950’s and 1960’s affected the birds’ reproduction by interfering with breeding behavior and causing a thinning of the eggshells. The result was a dramatic decline in the North American population. By 1975 there were only 35 nesting pairs left in Canada.
While the peregrines are doing much better now, due to intensive recovery efforts and the banning of DDT in North America, they are still at risk. Some Central and South American countries still use DDT, potentially exposing the birds to this chemical when they migrate there for the winter. Today, peregrines continue to be vulnerable to environmental toxins, which accumulate in their food chain.