falcons are found along Assateague Island National Seashore and
the nearby barrier islands. Assateague is an important recovery
area for the peregrine falcon (once listed under the endangered
species act). Ducks, shorebirds, and other birds know they better
be on alert when this bird of prey is near.
Peregrine falcon is swift and strong. Birdwatchers often witness
them diving at tremendous speeds towards their prey. In fact, they
are the fastest creatures on earth. Scientists have estimated the
falcon's speed to be more than 200 miles per hour. Ducks resting
on open water will sometimes "bunch" together as the falcon
swoops down on them. This is probably nature's way of confusing
the falcon by rendering him unable to concentrate on any one particular
duck as a target.
the 1940's peregrine falcon populations plummeted. The main cause
was a build up of concentrations of the pesticide DDT. This entered
the falcon's system when feeding on birds that had eaten contaminated
US Fish & Wildlife Service removed the peregrine falcon from
the list of endangered species in 1999. Restrictions on the use
of DDT have helped peregrine populations recover. As a result of
resource management programs, visitors to Assateague have the opportunity
to witness one of nature's most exciting birds to watch.