Peregrine falcons only need two things to really prosper: high spots to nest and flying birds to hunt for food. Cities have many tall buildings and a wealth of birds, so they’re wonderful places for peregrines to be. In Chicago, as many as six peregrine nests can be found in 1 square mile of downtown real estate.
How Peregrine Falcons Thrive in Cities
Published: December 3, 2018
Onscreen: Peregrin falcons are thriving in cities.
Tom French: Peregrine falcons only need two things to really prosper. One is high spots to nest—and so ledges on skyscrapers and bridges provide ample nesting sites—and flying birds as a food source. And cities have a wealth of birds: feral pigeons and starlings and house sparrows. So, cities are wonderful places for peregrines to be.
Onscreen: Here in Chicago, as many as six nests can be found in 1 square mile of downtown real estate. In the wind box of this apartment, a female peregrine has 3 hungry mouths to feed. She makes a sharp call to encourage them to open their beaks wide. Her partner soon joins her on the balcony. This family is called The Perrys.
For the last 3 years, they’ve made their home on this balcony, watched by the man who lives here, Dacey Arashiba. This rare situation provides an incredible opportunity to see what it takes for wild peregrines to grow up in a city. At just a few days old, the chicks need regular brooding.
French: When the chicks first hatch, they’re completely helpless. They can’t even keep themselves warm. So, the female treats them as if they’re still eggs. She sits on them, broods them. She does that for the first two or three days.
Onscreen: While the female tends the chicks, the male has his work cut out for him hunting their next meal. But city living has some surprising advantages. As the sun beats down on Chicago’s buildings, it generates rising thermals of hot air, helping him to lift off and soar almost effortlessly. Chicago’s waterfront location also attracts an abundance of migrating birds: potential prey.
Peregrines normally hunt during the day, but street lighting means 24-hour hunting, much needed help when feeding a growing family.
World's Fastest Animal
Produced by: Sophie Meyjes & Lucy Smith
Directed by: Simon Baxter
Digital Production: Olivia Schmidt
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2018