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Pukaskwa National Park of Canada

Peregrine Falcons

Peregrine Falcon Peregrine falcon chick banded in 2009 by park staff and the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists through Project Peregrine
© Parks Canada

One of Pukaskwa National Park’s most majestic summer residents is the peregrine falcon. This falcon is the fastest bird on record, diving at speeds of up to 300 km/h! They can regularly be seen soaring or hunting along Pukaskwa’s coastline, near the cliffs where they nest.

It’s only been recently, however, that Peregrine Falcons have returned to Pukaskwa. In the 1940s, populations declined significantly throughout North America due to the harmful use of pesticides such as DDT. Peregrine Falcons consumed concentrated amounts of DDT in their prey, causing eggshell thinning and reproductive failure. This species was listed as “Endangered” in 1978 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). However, DDT was banned in Canada in 1974, and recovery programs in recent decades have successfully reintroduced peregrine falcons to much of their original range. In 1999, Peregrine Falcons were down-listed by COSEWIC from the critically “Endangered” to “Threatened”; the status they are currently protected as under the Species at Risk Act.

Pukaskwa boasts at least six locations where nests have been recorded, with two or three pairs nesting in the park in any given year. Since monitoring began in 1999, peregrine falcons have successfully produced 51 nestlings! These birds are a measure of the health of coastal ecosystems in Pukaskwa National Park.

Planning on paddling down Pukaskwa’s coast, and want to help park staff monitor these magnificent birds? Beginning in 2012, Pukaskwa will ask interested visitors to help during their stay in the park. If this tweaks your interest, please call 807-229-0801 or email ont-pukaskwa@pc.gc.ca for more information.