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Hunting tactics of Peregrines and other falcons - Section: 13 Page: Paintings-7 - Peregrine prey selection and eagle interference

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Hunting tactics of Peregrines and other falcons - Chapter: Section-13 - Peregrine prey selection and eagle interference - Page: HUNTAC_0103 Image#: 0


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Along a 15-km stretch of Alberta's Red Deer River that I named the Valley of
the Falcons, I found three or four breeding pairs each of Peregrines and Prairie
Falcons in 1960. By the end of that decade, the former had become extirpated,
while the latter continued to produce young. The causes of the Peregrine's
demise were no doubt related to pesticide pollution and direct human interfer-
ence, but I wondered whether there were other factors involved, namely inter-
specific competition for nest sites and habitat change resulting in a declining
prey base for the Peregrine. An opportunity to test this hypothesis arrived in the
1990s, when Canadian government agencies released about 200 captive-raised
Peregrines at hack-sites along the river. After an initial success, resulting in the
return of the Peregrine as a local breeding bird, the species dwindled again to
only one nest in 2005 — 2008. In an inverse relationship, the Prairie Falcons
increased. The painting at left depicts a pair of prairies soaring over their tradi-
tional eyrie cliffs.

Above, a Golden Eagle in power glide along a foothills slope. A versatile
hunter, it mainly captures ground squirrels and rabbits, but it is quite capable of
seizing ducks in flight if they flush just ahead. It is also a habitual klepto-para-
site, robbing smaller raptors of their catch, but this is a trait shared by all wild
carnivores.

OCR
Tag: ducks eagle falcons hacksites nest peregrine peregrines pesticide pollution squirrels

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