The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Project Track-'em: Lightning

From Canada, the Foundation requests ensuring the bird’s safety and expresses gratitude for the interest of UH Ornithology

Translated by Neil Thomas
from an article by Roberto Lebrón in Ultima Hora
(March 6, 2002)

The international scientific community closely watches what UH publishes on the road of the ‘peregrine falcon’ that knows no boundaries

San Francisco de Macorís

The voices which call for the protection of the borderless falcon continue to increase since ULTIMA HORA released the information that the ‘wandering bird’ was in San Francisco de Macoris, and that it moved to different places from Cibao to the east after journeying through Canada, the US, Bahamas, Cuba and Haiti.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, whose president is Mark Nash, wrote to this paper asking for the greatest care for this exotic animal, which has become a sensation in the northeast. The Hispaniola Ornithological Society, the Museum of Natural History,  the Canadian Embassy, and the Secretary for the Environment have all requested that the bird be left in peace.

Yesterday the bird was not seen, though according to the satellite transmissions it is still in the Dominican Republic. In the next few days it will probably leave the country.

This bird, now an attraction in San Francisco de Macoris, is not the only one which set off for the Americas, as the researchers also released others. However, only two left Canada. The second was found in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

The bird being studied has two close relatives in this country, the kestrel and the merlin, but these are much smaller birds. The researchers have followed these birds since their birth in captivity on 13th June 2001, and they have been flying since the 41st day after hatching.

Nash thanked ULTIMA HORA for publishing the article on the falcon’s presence in San Francisco de Macoris. ‘We are happy that more friends help in protecting the bird’, he said in a second email sent to this newspaper.

And added: ‘Lightning is part of Canadian research to learn more about this species.’ He signalled that in winter many falcons migrate, disappear and are not seen again.

He manifested that this type of bird is almost extinct, and that in Ontario, Canada, only 33 pairs are known to exist. Many of them died in the decades of the 50s to 70s as a consequence of the use of DDT.

The Journey
The researchers followed, since early August 2001, the route followed by the birds, through observations from stations called Argos, situated in Canada and France. Lightning started his flight on the afternoon of 1st August, subsequently being tracked by satellite.

Before arriving in the Caribbean, in the region of Guantanamo, Cuba, the falcon made several flights over Richmond Hill, Markham and Maple. Then it went towards Scarborough, en route to NORTH York. In North York it was detected five times.

Then on the 12th October the researchers found it again in Guelph, and then again in Richmond Hill on the 17th.  From here three days later it was flying over New Jersey, en route to Virginia. The 30th October it was located to the east of Cuba. On the 3rd November it was in Guantanamo.

Five days later the researchers located it in Haiti, and the 12th it was in the central mountains of the Dominican Republic. From there it was followed to La Vega, where it stayed until 3rd December. But it didn’t stay long as it was found in Hato Mayor on the 8th.

The travelling bird continued its course, this time along the length of the Atlantic coast towards the northeast, settling in Maizal, Puerto Plata, but returning then to La Vega on the 18th December. It arrived in San Francisco de Macoris for the first time on 22nd February.

The peregrine falcon is distributed globally, in all continents and on many islands. It is found principally in the Alaskan and Canadian tundra, and in Greenland.

It is called the Prince of Raptors, as it can hunt and devour its prey while on the wing. Its shape is solid and svelte.

This is a brave species, which can stand up to eagles if its young are in danger. The male measures 38 cm, and the female 46.

On the Internet
The bird can be followed on the Internet at Other information can be found in The Wildlife Guide to the Birds, and the Birds of the West Indies, by authors Herbert Raffaelle and David Allen Sibley, respectively. The bird has an identification band on its left foot.

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