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City Life

Close up of a peregrine falcon in the city of Harrrisburg

City Life for a Peregrine Falcon

City life provides many benefits to peregrine falcons. Abundant prey such as pigeons, blue jays and other small birds are available throughout the year. A city's many tall buildings provide plenty of high perches and ledges that mimic cliffs where peregrine falcons commonly nest. The covered ledge at the Rachel Carson State Office Building provides the falcons shelter from severe weather. There is also less risk from predator great horned owls at an urban nest.

Of course, city life can pose some challenges for urban falcons, particularly when the young fledglings are learning to fly. Fledglings sometimes collide with nearby buildings or land in traffic. Staff from Department of Environmental Proteciton and Pennsylvania Game Commission work closely together to minimize disturbances to the nest. Each year, a team of volunteers conduct a falcon watch and rescue program to keep an eye on the young falcons as they take their first flights. Volunteers watch with binoculars and alert DEP environmental educators when a falcon may be in trouble. Staff capture, examine and then release the grounded fledglings.

Urban falcons can also face risks when they're exposed to environmental toxins like avicides sometimes used to control pigeons. They also face disease, primarily the potentially fatal trichomoniasis, a protozoan infection that is contracted when an infected pigeon is fed to the nestlings.