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Peregrine falcons nest on Atlanta buildings

With regulations on pesticides, coupled with the protection and reintroduction of the birds, the peregrine has been slowly making a comeback   

April 30, 1999
Web posted at: 5:00 PM EDT

A pair of endangered peregrine falcons have produced young and are nesting atop an office building in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday.

The birds can be seen flying around the Peachtree Street area of downtown Atlanta gathering food for their brood of three young.

This is only the third successful nesting known to have been completed by peregrines in Georgia since the last reported wild nest at Cloudland Canyon in northwest Georgia in 1942.

This particular pair of peregrines has nested in Atlanta for four years, raising three young in 1996 and 1997. In 1998, their nesting attempt failed, due to trichomoniasis, a disease which affects young birds through the food they eat.

State biologists believe that mourning doves, a staple food in the young peregrines' diet, carried the disease. Treatment is available, so the biologists will monitor the young birds and treat them for trichomoniasis pro-actively.

"We hope to prevent the devastating effects of this disease by treating the young early," said wildlife biologist Jim Ozier. "While peregrines have made a comeback from the brink of extinction nationwide, there is still a need to protect their nest sites and encourage population growth in Georgia."

Because of eggshell thinning from pesticides and PCB poisoning, eastern populations of the peregrine were eliminated from the wild in the 1940s. With regulations on pesticides, coupled with the protection and reintroduction of the birds, the peregrine has been slowly making a comeback.

Peregrines historically nested on remote cliff sites throughout the Appalachians. However, they now find suitable habitat on urban buildings and other large structures.

Peregrine falcons are the fastest flying birds of prey, with diving speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. Adult peregrines have wing spans of up to four feet and may be recognized by dark, sharply pointed wings and a long, narrow tail. Peregrines have black heads, with white throats and breasts.

The young Atlanta peregrines will leave the nest to fly and hunt around the downtown area, making them vulnerable to crashing into windows and landing in the street. The Department of Natural Resources would like people who see the birds to call the Nongame Endangered Wildlife Program office at (912)994-1438.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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Georgia Department of Natural Resources: Wildlife Resources
University of Calgary: Peregrine Falcon Home Page
Peregrine Fund
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Peregrine Falcon
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