DDT Effectively Removes Nesting Peregrine Falcon from Oregon by the 1960s
Peregrine Falcons had been declining in Oregon, as they were around the U.S., since the on-set of DDT in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The pesticide was banned in 1972, and the Peregrine Falcon was listed under the ESA in 1973. For most of the 1960s and 1970s, officials thought Oregon had few to no nesting pairs of Peregrine Falcons. Charles Henny (USFWS Corvallis, Oregon) and Morlan W. Nelson (famous falconer and raptor conservationist) were hired by ODFW to survey Oregon and document the loss of the Peregrine. The two researchers published an article in the 1981 entitled “Decline and Present Status of Breeding Peregrine Falcons in Oregon”. This article (read in full here) shared that most nesting Peregrines disappeared in Oregon in the 1940s and 1950s.
However, that was not entirely the case. Falconers and others had knowledge of nesting peregrines that were producing young, including the well-documented pair at Crater Lake. This pair was active through the 1960s and 1970s, and garnered much attention in the late 1970s when they were rediscovered (read more here).
ODFW Begins Survey of Historical Peregrine Eyries
ODFW had been surveying historical nesting sites (eyries) of Peregrine Falcons in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These surveys included helicopter flights near rocks and ledges that had once held Peregrines. No sites outside of the one that produced young (from the Henny and Nelson 1981 article above) had been found.
Oregon Falconers Survey & Find Nesting Peregrines in 1986
Dan Fenske hosted a group of Oregon Falconers and friends over Memorial Day weekend in May of 1986 to look for nesting Peregrine Falcons. While ODFW had been looking for nesting Peregrines around Oregon, they had not been able to find any outside of Crater Lake National Park. Dan had hoped to show that falconers had a thousand year history of finding Peregrines, and that Oregon Falconers could help locate nests in the state even when biologists couldn’t. Dan reached out to the Umqua National Forest to set up a weekend search by falconers in the hopes of locating nesting peregrines. That weekend, falconer Karen Thee and her friend Penni Ashenfelter found a nesting pair of Peregrines – and the site produced young! Thanks to Karen Thee, we have the following photos, personal story, newspaper articles, and letters from Dan Fenske to Umpqua National Forest to help document this momentous occasion!
Read Karen’s story and more here:
1. A Peregrine Adventure (by Karen Thee)
2. Dear Umpqua National Forest (letter by Dan Fenske)
3. Nesting Protection sought for rare peregrine falcons (1986 newspaper article)
4. Two fledgling Peregrines spotted (1986 Newspaper article)