Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.


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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dr. Gordon Court: Return of the Peregrine

         The Red Deer River Naturalists(RDRN) were very fortunate to have Dr. Gordon Court give a presentation on the peregrine falcon and it's return from near extinction.

        Historically peregrines have been of interest to humans as they have been used by hunters to hunt other birds. Humans are fascinated by the tremendous speed of a falcon's flight. The peregrine has been clocked at close to 400 km/hr in a dive. Pretty spectacular.

        Gord was a kid in the late sixties when DDT decimated the peregrine falcon population. Today the peregrine has made a remarkable come back so Gord feels that it is a good story. He should know. He was the overseer of the recovery program that was put in place to save the peregrine from disaster.

       In Gord's talk he began with DDT and how it affected the peregrine's reproductive system. He then told us about the recovery and all the good and bad luck involved as no one had done anything like this before. The eggs were not fertile when the peregrine's bred in captivity so they had to use artificial insemination. Much of he technology was learned by experience. Finally enough birds were raised so that they could release some back to the wild. Again this was another of those activities which had never been tried before so everything was experimental. To their surprise the birds migrated and returned the next summer and began breeding. The birds chose cities for nest sites as the tops of buildings provided nesting material...pebbles.

     Gord also gave an in depth description of what peregrines are like . He's an expert as he has raised many. He had an injured bird with him to demonstrate. He fed the injured bird at the end of his talk.

     So we were treated to a fascinating presentation on a very interesting bird.

1 comment:

  1. Will you be returning the two chicks to the nest, at the U of A, before they fledge?