Peregrine falcons in Wisconsin

These four chicks were banded this year at the Madison nest site. (Photo credit: Madison Gas and Electric Company)

“Why might a raptor become endangered?”  This was the first question I posed to students at the HACIL Charter School in Hayward last week. They came up with a great list including overhunting, pollution, and invasive species. With Aldo’s help, we talked specifically about the decline of peregrine falcons due to the use of an insecticide (DDT) and how they recovered. Our discussions made me wonder: how are peregrines doing in Wisconsin now?

I headed to the Midwest Peregrine Society’s website to find detailed banding records throughout the Midwest. Though peregrines were taken off the federal Endangered Species List in 1999, researchers continue to band chicks hatched at nearly every known nest site. Wisconsin started with just one nest in Milwaukee when the state’s first captive-bred chicks were released in 1987. The Wisconsin population has since grown to 34 successful nest sites in 2016 with a total of 103 chicks!  With efforts from chemists, politicians, biologists, and falconers, the peregrine falcon is an amazing example of what can happen when passionate people come together to save a species. I can hardly wait to see how our peregrines do next year. For now, I’ll have to settle for recorded nest cam videos until the birds come back next spring!


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