Overview

Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: Across interior Alaska, south of the Brooks Range southeastward across Canada to Labrador, and south to Baja California and northern Mexico (Palmer 1988, Ambrose et al. 1988, Rowell 2002). Replaced on the coast of Alaska and outer coast of British Columbia by F. p. pealei. WINTERS: Those breeding in the boreal subarctic winter in South America; those at more southern latitudes exhibit variable migration behavior, and some are nonmigratory (USFWS 1999).

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Range

North America (south of tundra) to n Mexico.

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 51 cm

Weight: 1500 grams

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Diagnostic Description

Intermediate in coloration between the pale birds of the arctic (subspecies TUNDRIUS) and the very dark pergrines of the northwest coast of North America (subspecies PEALEI).

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: See files for FALCO PEREGRINUS.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

See files for FALCO PEREGRINUS.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: See files for FALCO PEREGRINUS.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: In 1998, there were at least 193 breeding pairs in the eastern United States, 32 in the midwest, 535 in the western region, and 269 in the Pacific coast region (USFWS 1999). In Alaska, there are a minimum of 301 breeding pairs (USFWS 1999). In Canada, 319 breeding pairs were located in 1995 (USFWS 1999) and 374 in 2000 (Rowell 2002). Mexico has not been surveyed adequately, but at least 70 nest sites were occupied there in the late 1980s and early 1990s (USFWS 1999). In summary, there are approximately 1700-1800 pairs in Mexico, the U.S., and Canada; this number probably translates into 80-300 area-based occurrences.

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Global Abundance

2500 - 10,000 individuals

Comments: In 1998, the breeding population was at least 3400 individuals (see breakdown in distribution of breeding pairs in Occurrence comments; USFWS 1999, Rowell 2002).

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General Ecology

See files for FALCO PEREGRINUS.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Comments: See files for FALCO PEREGRINUS.

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Reproduction

See files for FALCO PEREGRINUS.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N3B - Vulnerable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N3B,N3N : N3B: Vulnerable - Breeding, N3N: Vulnerable - Nonbreeding

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Widespread distribution; large number of occurrences, many in remote wilderness. Had been extirpated in eastern United States and southeastern Canada due to pesticide poisoning and greatly reduced in numbers over many other portions of its range; numbers currently increasing and recovery objectives have been met in most areas.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to increase of 25%

Comments: Currently recovering throughout much of its range (USFWS 1999, Rowell 2002). Recovery slow in the central prairie states. Reintroduction efforts have been successful in the eastern portion of its range, but natural recolonization of this area by wild stock has not occurred.

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 30-50%

Comments: Markedly reduced in numbers by pesticide and PCB poisoning during the 1950s through the mid-1970s (USFWS 1999). Extirpated from large areas of its former range, particularly along the eastern coast of the United States. Now recovering, although still extirpated or sparse in some areas (see short-term trend).

During the 1930s and 1940s there were at least 200 breeding area occurrences in the eastern United States alone. By the mid-1960s these were all inactive (U.S. Fish and Wildlife 1993). In the western United States there were an estimated 250 to 350 breeding site occurrences in 1973, but these dropped to approximately 200 by 1983.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: Medium

Comments: Primarily environmental toxins, habitat loss, human disturbance, and illegal take.
TOXINS: The decline of this species has long been linked to the use of persistent organochlorine pesticides, such as DDT. Since the banning of DDT in North America in the early 1970s, peregrines have made a significant recovery (Rowell 2002). However, organochlorine residues persist in the environment, and peregrines are still being affected.

Pesticide-caused reproductive failure now apparently is rare or absent in northern populations, though organochlorine levels in the environment are still high in some areas (e.g., New Mexico, Hubbard and Schmitt 1988; see also Peakall 1990; see Banasch et al. 1992 for information on contaminants in prey in Panama, Venezuela, and Mexico). Court (1993) studied the eggs of F. p. anatum in Alberta, Canada between 1983 and 1992, and found that high DDE levels still occurred in some eggs, and that 28 percent of the eggs were still thinner than critical thicknesses considered essential for successful reproduction.

Also, eggshell thickness in New Jersey declined in the 1980s, suggesting that falcons continue to be exposed to environmental contaminants (Steidl et al. 1991). Reintroduced populations in some areas of the eastern U.S. (e.g., barrier islands of the mid-Atlantic states) may be threatened by increasing human disturbance and use of nesting habitat (Byrd and Johnston 1991).

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Management

Biological Research Needs: Determination of the impact of pesticide poisoning, take and disturbance on the wintering grounds. Determination of changes in food availability on wintering grounds and along migration routes. Determination of the affect and rate of habitat modification on habitat use patterns on the breeding grounds, wintering grounds, and along the migration routes.

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Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Hundreds of nest sites are in wildlife refuges, national, state, and provincial parks, and remote wilderness areas. However, foraging areas not always protected. Protected in the United States and Canada under the Migratory Bird Treaty. Federally listed as Endangered in the United States under the Endangered Species Act and in Canada by the Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

Needs: Continued protection of existing occurrences. Identification and protection of critical habitat both for the breeding areas and for wintering, foraging, and roosting areas.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: See files for FALCO PEREGRINUS.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Throughout eastern North America, the release of thousands of individuals reared from a variety of captive wild stocks has obscured the former boundaries of F. p. anatum.

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