Peregrine falcon research in Northwestern Ontario
The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum/tundrius) has been an icon of Species at Risk recovery in Canada. Since the 1970s a tremendous amount of time and effort has been invested into the reintroduction of this once nearly extirpated species. The recovery program has been a success as peregrine falcon have been downlisted in 2012 from Threatened to Special Concern.
Since 1996, Project Peregrine, a program of Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, has been undertaking the research and monitoring of peregrine falcons within the Ontario portion of the Lake Superior Basin, and in Northwestern Ontario. Partners contributing to this project include Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (District Offices at Thunder Bay, Nipigon, Wawa, Sault Ste. Marie and Atikokan), Ontario Parks, and Pukaskwa National Park. All together Project Peregrine has found more than 100 peregrine falcon territories.
Results and discussion
In 2016, there were 56 active peregrine falcon territories recorded on the Ontario side of the Lake Superior basin. These 56 territories represented 44 territorial pairs and 12 single adults on territory. The 44 territorial pairs consisted of 16 successfully breeding pairs that fledged 31 chicks (chicks over 24 days old), 16 pairs where nesting was confirmed, and 12 pairs where nesting was not confirmed. Four new sites were identified in 2016.
One of the new sites was in Pukaskwa National Park, north of Cascade Falls. There are now seven documented peregrine falcon territories within the Park, and three others adjacent to the park. Six of the ten territories were confirmed to be active in 2016. The banding team worked from June 22 to July 9, 2016 visiting 7 sites across the region and banded a total of 17 chicks (9 males and 8 females). Project Peregrine has now banded a total of 589 chicks (all at cliff sites) since 1996.
As a result of a successful recovery program, peregrine falcon numbers continue to increase in Ontario and in Pukaskwa National Park. Project Peregrine and Pukaskwa National Park will continue to monitor peregrine falcons and document the recovery of this species.
Research Partners: Brian Ratcliff, Project Peregrine Co-ordinator, Thunder Bay Field Naturalists