Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island information guide
Peregrine falcon

Peregrine 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.

The 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.

During 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 insects.

The 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.

(Falco peregrinus)

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