Once-endangered falcons reach milestone — good news for those perched at City Hall

Pat Loeb
May 19, 2019 - 11:59 am
Pennsylvania Game Commission falcons

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Mom and Dad falcon were none too pleased to see Arthur McMorris show up for his yearly invasion of their privacy. 

The Pennsylvania Game Commission falcon expert made his annual trip to Philadelphia City Hall last week to check on the family of falcons that have been living on a ledge of the 15th floor for eight years.

Related: Falcon family that calls City Hall home has a new addition

What the falcons might not realize is the commission's efforts are for the good of their whole species.

"Peregrine falcons were completely wiped out by DDT in the 1950s," he explained, "so the only reason we have peregrine falcons here now is due to a massive captive breeding and release program."

As part of the program, McMorris takes the baby bird from the nest so he can record its sex, age and a little DNA, and put a band on its ankle for tracking.

The brief upheaval has had a long-term benefit: Peregrine falcons came off the endangered species list in March.

"That's a very important milestone toward the goal of complete delisting."

Pennsylvania Game Commission falcons
Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

The birds remain on the threatened list, but McMorris is hopeful. He deems this baby a healthy 18-day-old female — part of a new generation that may some day roam the skies as they were meant to.

"They can manage on their own," McMorris noted. "They don't need these very involved management efforts."