The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Magazine

Article 14:
Peregrine Falcons nesting in the Niagara Gorge

Press Release from the Niagara Parks Commission
(May 4, 1998)


Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The Ministry of Natural Resources has confirmed a report from The Niagara Parks Commission that there is a Peregrine Falcon nest on the Ontario side of the Niagara Gorge close to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. The adults are caring for four eggs.

The spectacular Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) is an endangered raptor making a comeback after nearly being eliminated from much of North America. Since the early 1970's, a recovery program has been underway to breed and release young Peregrines across their former nesting area. The dedicated efforts of Environment Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and wildlife organizations supported by corporate and public partners and volunteers across the Province, have resulted in a fragile return of the birds to the skies of Ontario.

For some time, Peregrines have been returning to the high cliffs of Northern Ontario and to tall buildings in urban environments, including the cities of Hamilton, Toronto, Mississauga, London and Ottawa. The nesting in Niagara Falls is significant as it is the first known nest site in southern Ontario where the birds are using a natural cliff ledge rather than a high-rise building.

The nest is located in close proximity to a busy walkway in Niagara Falls where 14 million tourists visit each year. As this is not an ideal location, there are concerns about the birds successfully hatching and raising their young so close to so many people. The moisture from the spray of the Falls is another factor that will make this a difficult nesting site.

Accordingly, the Ministry is working closely with The Niagara Parks Commission to assist the birds. "We are doing everything we can to give these birds a chance," said NPC Chairman, Brian Merrett. "Anything we can do to support the survival of these falcons will be done. They are on the endangered species list and we are counting on the co-operation of all the visitors to the Falls to respect their nesting habits." An action plan is being developed under the direction of the Ministry.

The presence of the birds is an indication of the improving environmental health of the region which is the result of the commitment by many organizations. It is particularly encouraging to see the Peregrine Falcons beginning to re-occupy the cliff habitat in southern Ontario that was such a large part of their original range in the Province.

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