A working partnership in Missouri for peregrine falcons

By William H. Clay, Deputy Administrator, and Luke Miller, CWB®, Assistant District Supervisor, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services

Three young peregrine falcons getting banded at KCP&L Hawthorn generating station during spring 2016. ©Luke Miller, USDA WS

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and its peregrine falcon program enjoyed an active spring. USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) has appreciated the opportunity to participate with many partners across Missouri with this project, which aids recovery of the state-endangered bird.

A young male peregrine became trapped inside an office building in downtown Kansas City on July 6. The newly fledged chick was rescued by two WS staff and taken to Joe DeBold, MDC Urban Wildlife Biologist and TWS member, for banding. The MDC took advantage of this unique opportunity to band a bird from that nest, as it is inaccessible to the local biologists.

The bird came from a late-nesting pair of peregrines using a ledge at the Commerce Tower building, the original hacking site during the early 90’s. After examination at Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, the uninjured falcon was released atop the same building to be with his sister and father.

Stone-covered, flat roofs and concrete window sills on tall structures substitute for the natural cliffs the birds traditionally use, with urban pigeons and starlings becoming their prey. In addition to Commerce Tower, five other Kansas City nests produced a total of 18 young this spring. An old box has recently been occupied in rural Randolph County for the second year in a row, and produced an additional two falcon chicks.

WS’s Micah Glover, a wildlife specialist, had the pleasure of assisting MDC with banding the urban birds this spring and stated, “If it wasn’t for strong partnerships with our cooperators, such as Kansas City Power & Light Company, we wouldn’t have the falcons.” Missouri’s recovery program is currently comprised of partners in all directions: business executives and attorneys’ offices and coal-burning generating stations to prestigious university campuses and beyond. Private partners provided two cameras this spring for online viewing of the nests.

Although removed from the national Endangered Species List in 1999, recovery is still a goal in Missouri. Artificial nest boxes continue to be installed across the state in hopes of linking the six established breeding pairs near Kansas City with the other six nests known around the Saint Louis area.

In his role as a WS airport wildlife biologist Luke Miller, CWB®, has worked with many birds, including other raptors. Working with MDC on peregrine recovery has been especially rewarding. He explains, “It’s easy to become passionate about the falcons! The more time I spend working with them, the more information I learn and want to share.” He is already looking forward to helping MDC band chicks next spring.

Check out the following videos for more information on this project:

 

Wildlife Services is a Strategic Partner of TWS.