Peregrine Falcon Study Begins This Year

Photo showing a Peregrine Falcon adult at a nesting site.

Peregrine Falcon adult at nesting site (Photo credit: Institute for Wildlife Studies)

This season, MSRP is funding a comprehensive survey of Peregrine Falcons on all eight Channel Islands. The survey is the second of such efforts funded by MSRP with the last comprehensive survey taking place in 2007. Biologists from the Institute for Wildlife Studies are conducting weekly surveys on the islands in order to locate known and new nesting locations. Biologists are using traditional survey methods and are also broadcasting Peregrine Falcon vocalizations in order to increase the likelihood of detection. Between February and July, Peregrine Falcons will be observed at their nest sites to determine: a) nest site occupancy, b) nesting timing, and c) reproductive success. Biologists will enter accessible nest sites to band chicks when they are approximately 3 weeks of age. During each nest entry, researchers will collect any failed eggs, eggshell fragments, nestling feathers, and prey remains for future analyses.

The survey is off to a great start. As of early March, there are three active territories on Anacapa Island (one on each islet) and possible additional territories on the east ends of West Anacapa and Middle Anacapa. On Santa Cruz Island, there are currently15 territories with known pairs and three other areas with potential pairs. On Santa Rosa Island, there are nine territories with known pairs and three areas with potential pairs. On San Miguel Island, there are pairs at five of the eight historic territories and at least single birds at two more sites. Weekly updates of the Peregrine Falcon and Bald Eagle surveys on the Channel Islands are available on the Channel Islands Live! Discussion Forum.


-Gabrielle Dorr, MSRP Outreach Coordinator