Daily Archives: May 26, 2011

Peregrine Falcons Nest on the Cliffs of Downtown Winnipeg

Following an alarming decline during the 1950s and 1960s, this spectacular falcon, also called the “Duck Hawk,” is on the increase again, now that DDT and other pesticides that caused thinning of eggshells have been banned. After an intensive program of rearing birds in captivity and releasing them in the wild (a process called “hacking”), this large falcon is reclaiming nesting grounds from which it disappeared a few decades ago. Although their habitat is mainly open country, especially along rivers and coasts and near lakes, a favorite nesting site nowadays is a tall building or bridge in a city. These urban Peregrines subsist mainly on pigeons.

Since 1989, pairs of reintroduced Peregrines have nested high atop the Radisson Hotel on Portage Avenue in downtown Winnipeg. Characteristically, Peregrines return regularly to favourite nesting sites. One pair after another has used the same spot in England since 1243. Since 2006, CBC Manitoba has provided a falcon cam in the nest of the downtown birds. This year, the chicks have just hatched so the feeding frenzies now begin. Click pic to start live falcon cam.

The Peregrine Falcon has been the favourite of falconers for over 3,000 years, ever since the nomads of central Asia first pursued game with trained hawks and falcons. Extremely acute eyesight, even in dim light, allows falcons to be very effective hunters around dawn and dusk.

Peregrines often migrate very rapidly between breeding and wintering areas, flying as much as 500 km per day. A female Peregrine that nested in Edmonton flew to Mazatlan, Mexico, in less than eight days and returned in six days.

With the exception of Antarctica, New Zealand, and Iceland, the Peregrine is found around the globe. Twenty-two subspecies are recognized throughout the world. Their great powers of flight have enabled them to establish nesting populations in the Arctic, and as far south as Tasmania, South Africa, and the Falkland Islands.

Peregrine Falcon Range Map

Peregrines breed from Alaska and the Canadian Arctic south locally through the mountainous West, and sparingly in East. Winters coastally, north to British Columbia and Massachusetts.

This post can also be found permanently on my Birdland page.

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Filed under Birds, Hope, Winnipeg

Happy Birthday Dorothea Lange

No, that’s not Dorothea Lange. If you don’t recognize the name you’ll recognize this photograph she took. Dorothea Lange, born this day 1895, was one of several photographers hired by the U.S. government to document the Depression. Created in 1935 as part of the New Deal, the Farm Security Administration was set up to combat rural poverty. The FSA had a highly influential photography program meant to portray the effects and challenges of the Depression on rural America. Photographers, such as Walker Evans, Gordon Parks and Dorothea Lange, were given assignments, often scripted and specific, sometimes allowing the photographer freedom, to document the rural poor to show the progress of the government programs. Dorothea Lange’s photograph became the icon of the program, published in newspapers and magazines around the country and helped relate “people to the land and vice versa,” said Roy Stryker, the program’s chief. And what did Dorothea say? “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” and “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” and “… put your camera around your neck along with putting on your shoes, and there it is, an appendage of the body that shares your life with you.” and “…Art is a by-product of an act of total attention.” Dorothea’s work broadly defined the documentary photograph genre, influencing and inspiring several generations of clickers. Not dead/Dead since October 11, 1965.

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Filed under Art Actions, Momentous Day, Pioneers, Prairie People