Banner Year for Peregrines in 2015
Posted on January 22, 2016
2015 marked the last mandated year for annual Peregrine Falcons counts—and it was a banner year in Montana!
When Peregrine Falcons were removed from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1998, a long-term commitment was made to monitor these birds. That annual monitoring effort ended in 2015, with seventeen seasons of data collected. A final report released in December 2015 tells us that the Peregrine Falcon is faring well in Montana. Let us count the ways (in 2015):
- Montana had a total of 129 active eyries counted (NOTE: an eyrie is the name of a Peregrine’s nest; the term means ‘a large nest of a bird of prey, usually built high in a tree or on a cliff’).
- The reproductive rate for our state (2.4 birds per territory) is higher than the rate in other states in the country (1.64).
- Montana’s 2015 reproductive rate (2.4 birds per territory) is the highest reproductive rate during our state’s 17-year monitoring program
- 235 young Peregrines fledged into Montana, with a median fledge date of July 7
- 27 new Peregrine Falcon territories were found
In addition to counting Peregrine Falcons, the Peregrine monitoring volunteers also located 300 Golden Eagle territories and over 100 Prairie Falcon territories.
We want to thank Jay Sumner and Ralph Rogers, and their 80-some volunteers for their great work and dedication. Jay received a 2015 Montana Audubon Special Achievement Award for his commitment to Montana’s Peregrines. We know that Jay, Ralph, and their crew are already gearing up for other raptor monitoring in 2016.
A brief History of Peregrine Falcons:
Montana Peregrine Falcon nests: number of nest by year.
- 1940’s – Introduction of DDT, populations begin decline
- 1970’s – Continued population decline
- 1980’s – 600 Peregrines reintroduced into Montana at 26 hack sites
- 1998 – 8 Active eyries in Montana
- 1999 – Begin intensive surveys of Montana populations
- 2005 – 52 active eyries in Montana
- 2008 – Active eyries increased to 74
- 2012 – 108 active eyries in Montana
- 2015 – 129 active eyries; last year for annual surveys