Return to the Wild - Evolving perspectives on Canadian wildlife
As long as suitable breeding sites are available, the peregrine falcon nests across Canada.

Did you know?

A peregrine falcon regularly returns to the same nesting site — one nest in England has been used by falcon pairs since at least 1243.

Scientific name: Falco peregrinus
Average weight: 650 g (male)
980 g (female)
Average length: 38 cm–50 cm (female larger)
Average wingspan: 1 m
Average lifespan: 5 years
A peregrine falcon momentarily at rest.

Our changing understanding

The peregrine falcon’s bumpy ride to rebounding numbers has been well documented in Canadian Geographic. One of the world’s fastest birds of prey, the peregrine seems to have captured the nation’s attention during the 1970s, the years of its biggest struggle.

At that time, many people believed the decline of the peregrine falcon could be attributed primarily to pesticides and other industrial pollutants. But we soon learned that banning the use of pesticides such as DDT in Canada and the United States doesn’t always solve the problem, because some populations of falcons winter in Central and South America, where DDT is still being used.

A lot of research on captive-breeding techniques was conducted by both government biologists and falconers, and the previously held belief that falcons could not be bred successfully in captivity was disproved. In 1978, the Minister of the Environment had Canada Post issue a stamp celebrating a falcon that was raised in captivity and went on to reproduce in the wild.

More recent articles describe how the falcon is being used at airports to chase away other birds that pose a danger to airplanes on takeoff and landing and how the falcon is returning to the coast of Labrador after a 20-year absence. While conditions are generally improving for the bird, climate change is wreaking havoc for some populations: peregrine falcons in Canada’s western Arctic, for example, are losing their nests along cliffs that have become unstable due to the weakening permafrost.