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DEC’s Connie Adams on Peregrines

Posted on Nov 14, 2013

Last month New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Senior Wildlife Biologist Connie Adams came to speak at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute Ornithological Club meeting. Connie’s talk was on the fastest creature on the planet, the Peregrine Falcon, and their history, biology and status in New York. Instead of her typical presentation Connie brought along a couple friends to help her out. These mounts are of a male and female Peregrine Falcon that were actually a mated pair in Buffalo.

Connie PEFA 2

Connie PEFA

Can you tell which of the birds is which? Male raptors are typically smaller than females. I’ll give you a hint as judging size in separate photos is difficult – what set of talons on these birds look like the larger and more menacing ones? Yes, the top bird is the female. As Connie tells it she was a vicious bird having driven off and even killed other falcons in order to secure this male and his nest box as her mate and home, and then defending them against any other threat. I was fascinated to learn this guy lived to nearly 20 and that the both of them combined produced several dozen young Peregrines over the years. The prey of western New York Peregrines was also intriguing to me in that it resembled much of the unexpected prey found by the Peregrines I have lived around hunting Connecticut’s cities – there are plenty of pigeons but also secretive birds that are not found in urban habitats like the American Woodcock and cuckoos.

Connie PEFA 3

Connie explained that the limiting factor on their reproduction is essentially the limited number of nest box sites erected in areas like Buffalo. One pair does nest naturally at Niagara Falls but with very few natural nesting areas in our modern developed world – something like a cliff face – they need our help to continue to expand. Thankfully overall the species is doing very well in its recovery after DDT nearly wiped it out in America. This is one of the few major success stories in avian conservation and our thanks go out to people like Connie for making it happen and educating everyone on how special the Peregrine is.


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch