Project Peregrine has been intensively monitoring the breeding population of Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) within the Ontario side of the Lake Superior Basin, and northwestern Ontario since 1996.
This field season started out the same as in past years but due to some unexpected funding delays and intense precipitation, the 2012 monitoring produced some of the poorest results. Peregrines returned to the cliff sites approximately the same time as in the past (mid-late March) and many pairs were established by early April. On May 28, the Thunder Bay area experienced an intense weather system, and more than 100 mm of rain fell in just a few hours. Many peregrine territories that were active in April had no sign of adults or chicks in June. Productivity on the east side of Lake Superior was much better. Project Peregrine has been fortunate to receive the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk Stewardship Fund to cover the cost of the June helicopter survey in the past. This year, Project Peregrine received notice that we were successful in receiving funds for the helicopter survey but the announcement was not made until July 17, about four weeks after the survey should have taken place. A portion of this funding was directed to covering volunteer banding expenses. Project Peregrine was able to assist OMNR staff on a limited helicopter flight that looked at approximately 25 territories around Thunder Bay and Nipigon on June 21.
In 2012, there were 48 peregrine falcon territories identified. There were 39 territorial pairs, and 9 single birds on territory. The breeding success of the 39 territorial pairs consisted of 29 breeding pairs, of which 20 pairs were known to have fledged 38 young. The number of chicks assumed to have fledged would be significantly higher, but 9 confirmed nesting sites were not visited a second time to confirm fledging success. Eleven sites that were previous occupied were also surveyed in 2012 but no birds found. There were 48 previous territories that were not surveyed in 2012. Four new territories (Keemle Lake, Mica Bay, Gargantua, and LSPP- Beauvier Point) were confirmed in 2012.
Only five nests sites were accessed for banding, and 10 chicks (6 males and 4 females) were banded. Banding was initiated on June 15, and concluded on July 2. The ten chicks banded was the lowest number banded since the banding program started in 1996 (16 chicks banded). Only one chick was noted as having blow fly (Calliphoridae) maggot infestation in its ears. To date, 511 peregrine falcon chicks have been banded since 1996.
Project Peregrine is indebted to the many volunteers, Pukaskwa National Park and OMNR staff who took time to survey known cliff sites, and new cliff sites for peregrine activity in 2012. Their time and efforts are greatly appreciated. To the banding team climbers: Frank Pianka, Leo Tardif, and Rod Swatton, who make up the banding team, a special thank you for your expertise and 102 hours of donated time. Your continued interest in this project is also greatly appreciated.
Funding received by Project Peregrine to continue the monitoring and banding of peregrine falcons was provided by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk Stewardship Fund.