Canadian Atlas of Bird Banding

Volume 3: Raptors and Waterbirds, 1921–1995.
(Dunn et al., 2009)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) 356.0

Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Peregrine Falcon (west).
Encounters (west): Peregrine Falcon (block size = 14.1°; excludes birds moving <200 km) View data table
Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Peregrine Falcon (east).
Encounters (east): Peregrine Falcon (block size = 6.9°; excludes birds moving <200 km) View data table
Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Peregrine Falcon (transoceanic).
Encounters (transoceanic): Peregrine Falcon View data table
Map showing connections between banding and encounter locations for: Peregrine Falcon (south).
Encounters (south): Peregrine Falcon (block size = 8.1°) View data table

The Peregrine Falcon breeds in scattered locations across northern Canada and in Alaska; it also breeds in parts of southern Canada and the United States (often as a result of reintroduction). The wintering range extends from coastal British Columbia and New Brunswick south through the central and southern United States, West Indies, and Central America to Tierra del Fuego.

There are three subspecies of Peregrine Falcons in Canada: pealei in the Queen Charlotte and Vancouver islands, anatum south of the tree line, and tundrius north of the tree line. Banding has been conducted in all three areas (see effort map), but some of the Peregrine Falcons banded in southern Canada are tundrius that were handled during migration.

Numbers banded in Canada have increased over time (Appendix 1), paralleling the rise in conservation interest and the recovery of populations in the post- DDT era.

Peregrine Falcons of the pealei subspecies are quite sedentary (Schmutz et al. 1991). Of seven encounters of birds banded in the area from the Queen Charlotte Islands to Seattle, Washington, one had no details on encounter site and five showed average movement of only 150 km. However, the pealei Peregrine Falcon in record 1 spent its first winter in California. (Note: Nest locations are cited in individual records as “undisclosed,” and coordinates both in cited records and on maps have been rounded to a full degree block. However, distance and direction were calculated using the original data.)

Peregrine Falcons banded in northern Canada and Alaska were reported wintering (December–February) primarily in Central or South America, from Mexico, Panama, Colombia, and Cuba to Argentina, Chile, and Brazil (records 2–6). Yukon-banded birds were concentrated during fall migration in central U.S. states, particularly Texas, as well as in nearby states and Mexico, but there are also a few records in Virginia and Florida. The western encounter map obscures the pattern somewhat, owing to the very large block size used to thin the number of lines plotted (see introduction). The only three spring migration records for Yukon birds involved encounters relatively far east, in Hispaniola, Cuba, and Minnesota. Encounters during migration of birds banded in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut were primarily in Central and South America (records 7–9), such that migration pathways are not readily apparent. There were many records in Texas (including record 10, also documenting the oldest bird in the data set) and several in Mexico, but also a few in the east (record 11). Birds banded on the west coast of Hudson Bay (records divided among several of the encounter maps) suggest that this is a transition zone between migration paths to the west and east of the Gulf of Mexico.

Peregrine Falcons from northern Quebec and Labrador were likely to be in the eastern United States during fall (record 12), and one banded in Greenland and encountered in Quebec (record 13) also appeared headed in that direction. Birds banded in Ontario and eastward at latitudes south of the southern end of James Bay were also found in migration primarily in the eastern United States, mainly from New Brunswick to Florida and Cuba (record 14), although one bird from Ontario was encountered in Arkansas. Peregrine Falcons from this region encountered in December– February had not gone as far south as birds from western populations; two-thirds remained in the United States, and most others went no farther south than Guyana (record 15, with record 16 being an exception). One Ontario breeder wintered in California (record 17).

Some Peregrine Falcons obviously go far afield in their first migration (including record 17), and some banding records document the willingness of Peregrine Falcons to fly extensively over water. A Quebec-banded nestling ended up in Hawaii (record 18, which was well-documented), after crossing the entire North American continent and then flying an almost equal distance over the Pacific Ocean. A nestling hacked from a reintroduction program in New Brunswick was captured by a falconer in Norwich, England, in its first winter (record 19), where it was held in captivity until escaping 25 days later (Dennis 1990). Three other birds were encountered “at sea” (see encounter maps); in the first two cases, the actual band was returned to the Banding Office. One of these falcons, banded as a nestling in Nova Scotia, was encountered in fall near Sable Island (south of the island of Newfoundland), in an area regularly traversed by Peregrine Falcons between the Maritimes and the U.S. coast (Kerlinger et al. 1983). Another bird landed on a ship about a third of the way from Newfoundland to England, where it was caught by hand due to “exhaustion.” This bird covered a minimum of 91 km/day over 35 days; as it was banded when still a flightless chick, the travel must actually have occurred over a shorter period. (The bird in record 7 also moved quickly, at least 89 km/day over 94 days). The third Peregrine Falcon encountered at sea had its band read by telescope after it landed on a ship off the west coast of Africa. While this reading could have involved error, the record seems acceptable in light of the other transatlantic movements. All these records involved Peregrine Falcons undertaking their first migration.

Breeding Peregrine Falcons are faithful to nest sites, and there is evidence of fidelity to natal area, as well. Of 12 Peregrine Falcons banded as chicks and encountered 3 or more years later in the breeding season (June or July), half were within 50 km of the natal site (average = 188 km). The maximum distance between the natal and breeding areas was 757 km, recorded for a bird banded in northern Yukon and recaptured 7 years later in northern Alaska.

Prior to 1952, 38% of encounters of this endangered species resulted from shooting, but the proportion has since dropped to 12%. Far more encounters in recent years (one-third overall) have come from recapture by other banders or by reading of bands through telescopes.

Encounter records: Peregrine Falcon
Band Number Sex Distance Duration Banding Encounter
Who Banded Age Day Location Latitude Longitude Day Location Latitude Longitude Condition How Obtained
0877-64130 U 1986 km S28°E 7 mo. BCWB L 09/06/84 undisclosed location, BC 54°0'N 133°0'W 15/01/85 San Rafael, CA 37°50'N 122°30'W 5 0
0727-00003 F 6262 km S62°E 1 yr. 7 mo. RF L 17/07/69 undisclosed location, NT 66°0'N 129°0'W 18/02/71 Leonero, Cuba 20°40'N 77°0'W 5 1
0727-00307 U 11065 km S58°E 5 mo. RF L 16/07/73 undisclosed location, NT 68°0'N 133°0'W 04/12/73 Iquique, Chile 20°10'S 70°0'W 5 3
0987-29230 U 12451 km S75°E 5 mo. YTG L 18/07/84 undisclosed location, YT 67°0'N 139°0'W 25/12/84 Capanema, Brazil 25°40'S 53°40'W 5 0
0987-28677 U 11149 km S31°E 6 mo. NTG L 05/08/81 undisclosed location, NU 62°0'N 92°0'W 22/02/82 near Cerro Chato, Uruguay 33°0'S 55°0'W 5 1
0987-87708 U 7708 km S27°E JB L 23/07/90 undisclosed location, NL 56°0'N 61°0'W 24/01/91 near Rio Largo, Brazil 9°30'S 35°40'W 0 56
0617-21375 M 8351 km S52°E 3 mo. RF L 01/08/72 undisclosed location, NT 69°0'N 128°0'W 03/11/72 near Tumaco, Colombia 2°10'N 78°30'W 3 1
0686-01703 M 11969 km S53°E 1 yr. 3 mo. RF L 30/07/73 undisclosed location, NT 69°0'N 126°0'W 99/10/74 La Rioja State, Argentina 29°0'S 66°50'W 4 1
0987-41411 U 7687 km S52°E 3 yr. 1 mo. NTG L 31/07/85 undisclosed location, NU 68°0'N 106°0'W 99/08/88 west of Georgetown, Guyana 6°50'N 58°20'W 5 1
0987-30445 F 5181 km S39°E 12 yr. 3 mo. TWB L 14/07/77 undisclosed location, NT 69°0'N 128°0'W 04/10/89 34 km north of Port Mansfield, TX 26°50'N 97°20'W 7 89
0617-19856 F 5179 km S62°E 11 mo. JHE AHY 29/06/66 undisclosed location, YT 67°0'N 133°0'W 99/05/67 Seagrove Beach, FL 30°10'N 86°0'W 5 0
0987-87710 U 3969 km S35°W 3 mo. JB L 24/07/91 undisclosed location, NL 56°0'N 61°0'W 05/10/91 16 km east of Dry Tortugas, FL 24°30'N 82°40'W 7 89
374884 U 2859 km S32°W 2 mo. U 31/08/56 Nugatsiak, Umanak District, Greenland 71°40'N 53°40'W 16/10/56 11 km west of Windigo, QC 47°40'N 73°20'W 0 97
0987-29661 U 3028 km S3°E 4 mo. AFWD L 19/07/83 undisclosed location, NS 45°0'N 64°0'W 20/11/83 Philipsburg, Guadalupe 18°0'N 63°0'W 5 1
0816-81295 U 4951 km S34°E 5 mo. CWSPNR L 11/08/93 undisclosed location, ON 46°0'N 81°0'W 22/01/94 Helena, Guyana 6°40'N 58°0'W 10 28
0816-81130 U 6423 km S46°E 9 mo. CWSPNR L 16/07/90 undisclosed location, ON 44°0'N 79°0'W 19/04/91 Parnaiba, Brazil 2°50'S 41°40'W 7 52
0987-86191 U 3411 km S79°W 6 mo. CWSPNR L 28/07/92 undisclosed location, ON 46°0'N 81°0'W 04/01/93 Los Angeles, CA 34°0'N 118°10'W 4 0
1807-15453 U 7930 km S80°W 4 mo. MU-MC L 02/08/90 undisclosed location, QC 58°0'N 69°0'W 27/12/90 Honolulu, HI 21°10'N 157°40'W 5 0
0987-27721 U 4705 km N58°E CWSPNR L 18/07/86 undisclosed location, NB 45°0'N 65°0'W 24/12/86 Norwich, England 50°50'N 7 56
Expand table of encounter records
Summary of banding statistics: Peregrine Falcon
Category Age at banding
Hatch Year After Hatch Year Any Age
No. of Canadian bandings (1955-1995) 4749 216 4966
No. encountered per 1000 banded (1955-1995) 0 0 51
Total no. encountered (1921-1995) 288 18 307
No. encountered from foreign bandings 33 8 42
Maximum period from banding to encounter (mo.) 147 79 147
No. of Canadian-banded birds moving > 0 km 238 8 246
Mean movement > 0 km of Canadian-banded birds 2837 1979 2809
Maximum movement from all encounters (km) 12807 5768 12807
% recovered (encountered dead) 55 38 54
% direct recoveries 58 27 56
% encountered during banding operations 25 61 27

Banding effort: Peregrine Falcon

Map showing the distribution of banding effort for Peregrine Falcon in Canada.
Banding Effort Data Table
Region Total Banded
Alberta 946
British Columbia 550
Northwest Territories 1372
Manitoba 108
New Brunswick 95
Newfoundland and Labrador 48
Nova Scotia 113
Ontario 646
Quebec 488
Saskatchewan 141
Yukon Territory 673
Total 5180

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