Falcons Make Comeback In America's Urban Jungle

The peregrine falcon, endangered since the 1960s, is making a comeback - in urban America.

From New York to Detroit the bird of prey is eschewing its wilderness roots for city living. The latest example is a young falcon couple raising a family atop the Christian Science Center's administration building.

Perched on a ledge 25 floors above Boston, the falcons' new home commands a stunning view of the city - and is one of only four known peregrine falcon nests in Massachusetts.

While habitat loss threatens many endangered species, it was the pesticide DDT that nearly wiped out the peregrine falcon 30 years ago. Today, there are 150 nesting pairs east of the Mississippi.

Tom French, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, says that cities provide peregrine falcons with the basics of their natural habitat: high building ledges reminiscent of their cliff homes in the wild and an adequate food source of medium-size birds.

Pigeons and starlings are easy prey for the falcons, which dive at speeds up to 180 m.p.h.

French, who banded and then released the four chicks this week, is optimistic about the birds' future. Both falcon parents were born in the wild, a sign French says that the peregrine falcon population could be recovering enough to be taken off the endangered species list.

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