Environment
7:21 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Game Commission to Track Newly Hatched Peregrine Falcons in Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania Game Commission Tuesday affixed special tracking bands to the legs of peregrine falcons that have hatched atop a state office building in Harrisburg.

The agency has been monitoring the offspring of falcons nesting on the building ledge since 2000 as part of an effort to help the recovery of a bird that is on the state’s endangered species list.

Game Commission biologist Art McMorris said the falcon population may improve enough to come off that list in the next decade.

"I think there’s an excellent chance that we’ll be able to upgrade them from endangered to threatened and I think that there’s a good chance that we can take them off the endangered species list entirely," McMorris said. "Now that’s my crystal ball, you can’t hold me to that. That’s my expectation, it is certainly my hope."

This year, four falcons were hatched in the nest on the state office building. But McMorris said their chance of survival is diminished because of urban hazards.

The commission’s tally of nesting falcons statewide is 32 pairs. The birds mate for life.

The state counted only four or five pairs statewide in 2000, when it began tracking falcons born in the office building nest.

"We have seen peregrine falcons at a few places for the first time this year where we haven’t seen them before, and at least one of them we know that they nested and they nested successfully," McMorris said.