by Kenn Chapman
Few, but not gone
Nesting peregrine falcons have not been seen in Ontario for several decades - until the late 1980s, that is. Now that DDT and related persistent chemicals have been banned, it was anticipated that the eastern North American release of many anatum race peregrine falcons would re-establish the peregrines in Ontario. In recent years, a small but increasing number of peregrines have returned to nest in the province.
Today there is a small nesting population scattered across the province which has an abundance of good quality nesting habitats. It is estimated (1995) that there are at least 15 territorial pairs and/or occupied territories in the province, with nine of them producing 16 young fledglings.
Some of the breeding birds were banded and could be identified as birds hacked back into the wild in either Ontario or the United States. At a nest site near Thunder Bay, a male peregrine was identified as a bird released just south of Thunder Bay in 1989. The female peregrine nesting in Toronto was released just last year from Philadelphia. Two females in London, one of which made a failed nesting attempt, were traced back to Greece NY and Columbus OH. The Hamilton female, on the other hand, was identified as a Canadian bird - hacked either in Winnipeg in 1989 or Thunder Bay in 1991.
In 1995, there were more peregrine falcons known to be in Ontario than there have been in the last several decades. The successful nesting of pairs in both Toronto and Hamilton was especially significant as the first indication of nesting peregrines in southern Ontario for the first time in decades; more importantly, it was the first ever successful nesting in cities in Ontario. Although the London nesting attempt was unsuccessful, there's every reason to believe the same pair may be successful this year. Also, the peregrine population in northern Ontario is increasing and expanding southward.
The peregrine falcon population in Ontario is definitely recovering and re-establishing itself as a part of our natural wildlife.
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