Sunday 19 August 2018

Peregrine Falcon: A New Breeding Species for the Island of Newfoundland

Peregrine Falcon was once an endangered species across North America. In the mid 1960's to 70's they were on the brink of extinction in our continent, largely due to the use of DDT - an insecticide. Thanks to the work of Rachel Carson through her book Silent Spring, and the efforts of many others, DDT was banned from use in 1972. Since then, with the help of recovery efforts, Peregrine Falcons have made a remarkable comeback across the entire continent. They now breed in all states, provinces, and territories (expect, maybe, PEI?)

Despite being a regular breeder in the mountains of Labrador, there was never a confirmed breeding record for the island of Newfoundland, until now.

Laura King first reported a pair near a seabird colony in early May, 2018. A couple weeks later Brendan Kelly found them at the same location and noted their "nesty" behaviour. In mid August, while out on a hike with Mike (a childhood friend), we came across a single adult feeding 2 begging juveniles. A long-overdue first breeding record for the island, but nonetheless exciting. The site will be monitored in the coming years, and hopefully there'll be more Peregrine nests discovered in the not too distant future. There certainly is no lack of cliffs and food in the way of seabirds for these birds to spread across the island.

Adult Peregrine with a juvenile Common Tern in its talons:

Note that this adult has already begun its pre-basic molt. Falcons are unusual in that their wing molt begins with p4 and s5 (the midpoint of the primaries and secondaries) rather than the more conventional innermost primary as with most other bird species. No one knows why this is.

The adult delivers a juvenile Common Tern to its freshly fledged youngster. 

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon enjoying a freshly delivered Common Tern:

A complete fresh coat of feathers - made right here in Newfoundland: