The Department of Natural Resources has banded 15 peregrine falcon chicks in the Southeast Region this spring so scientists can track their movements in a program designed to assist in the endangered raptors' recovery.
The Southeast Region, extending from the Ohio border to the Thumb region of Michigan, includes Monroe, Lenawee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, Livingston, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay and Huron counties.
At about three weeks of age and before they can fly, peregrine falcon chicks are given two bands on their legs – one bi-colored band with large numbers that can be read from a distance and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Band, which is usually purple and bears a serial number specific to that bird.
These bands are placed on young birds so that scientists can monitor and track the dispersal, migration, lifespan, reproductive success, behavior and population growth of the falcons.
Birds were banded at the following sites this year: The former Lowe Campbell Ewald Building in Warren (three chicks, one male and two females), the Jackson County Tower Building (three chicks, one female and two males), the Old Mt. Clemens County Building (four chicks, three females and one male), the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor (three chicks, two females and one male), the JR Whiting Power Plant in Erie (one male), and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron (one male).
Tracking peregrine falcons is important as their population recovers from a major population decline in the 1960s. Peregrines are considered endangered in the state of Michigan, though they are no longer federally endangered.
During the 1960s, the peregrine falcon population declined precipitously.The shells of peregrine eggs became extremely fragile because adult birds had accumulated DDT, a pesticide that interfered with calcium metabolism. By 1968, the entire U.S. peregrine falcon population east of the Mississippi was gone.
Michigan began its peregrine recovery efforts in 1986. In 1993, the peregrines in Michigan began reproducing successfully. There are currently 21 known nest sites in southeast Michigan. Ten of the nests successfully hatched chicks, and 23 chicks fledged. In 2013 there were 47 nest sites in the entire state of Michigan.