Posted by: Kirsten | Friday, 23 November 2007

The Peregrine Falcons of New River Gorge

From the NPS website: New River Gorge peregrine falcon restoration programThe National Park Service and West Virginia Department of Natural Resources biologists are ‘hacking’ peregrine falcons within New River Gorge National River as part of a restoration program for the species.

“Hacking is the process of placing young falcons in a structure and caring for the birds in a manner that minimizes human exposure until they are mature enough to fly,” explained Matt Varner, NPS wildlife biologist. “The artificial aerie or hack box simulates nesting and feeding conditions on steep rock cliffs – prey is dropped into the box through a tube so the birds don’t see or associate people with the food. This cage-like structure protects the birds from predators during the pre-flight period while allowing them to acclimate to and imprint on the Gorge. When they are ready to ‘fledge’ (fly), they are released from the box, but will return for occasional feedings until their hunting skills allow them to survive on their own.”


For more information on the New River Gorge peregrine falcon restoration efforts, please visit the links below.

Other resources:

  • My Side of the Mountain (1959), by Jean Craighead George.  Set in the Catskill Mountains of New York, the fictional story tells how runaway Sam Gribley survives in the wilderness. Sam befriends many animals, including a baby peregrine falcon named Frightful that he teaches to hunt for him.
  • On the Far Side of the Mountain (1990)
  • Frightful’s Mountain (1999)
  • Frightful’s Daughter (2002)

While these are fictional stories, the detailed accounts of Frightful’s daily and seasonal activities offer amazing insights into the lives of peregrine falcons. You can also get these stories on audio CD — we listened during a looooong Thanksgiving drive to and from grandma’s house just yesterday!  — Jon

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