Indiana state biologists have banded a record number of peregrine falcon chicks so far this year.
The once-endangered species has been making a comeback in the region. Until 1999, peregrine falcons were on the federal endangered species list. Populations were decimated due to the widespread use of pesticides like DDT, which decreased reproduction rates. The birds also lost a lot of their natural habitat…like cliffs and steep slopes.
But now, populations have seen a rebound in several states, including Kentucky and Indiana. Indiana Division of Natural Resources spokesman Phil Bloom says the birds have adapted to modern landscapes.
“Peregrines were able to settle into urban settings with skyscrapers and other tall buildings that mimic the bird’s natural cliff side habitat,” he says.
Some peregrine falcons have built nests on bridges, and industrial towers. A pair of falcons hatched four chicks earlier this spring in Louisville in a nest box high on a cooling tower at the Mill Creek power plant.
Bloom says the bands help scientists keep track of the chicks…whether they stay in Indiana or fly elsewhere.
“In the event that they end up nesting somewhere else, they’re able to use spotting scopes to read those numbers and be able to determine where those birds come from,” he says. “That’s why we know that some of the birds that we have are from Ohio, Michigan, were released in Kentucky, Wisconsin, many many places around the country.”
Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists report banding 44 falcon chicks this year. The previous high mark was 38, set last year. In Kentucky, biologists banded 27 chicks this year.