Peregrine falcons return to Effigy Mounds; Special event this Friday

Peregrine falcon... Submitted photo.

Peregrine falcons have returned to Effigy Mounds and in celebration of this historic event Effigy Mounds National Monument is hosting a special evening program this Friday, July 6 at 7 p.m. The presentation will take place in the Effigy Mounds National Monument Visitor Center located at 151 Highway 76, Harpers Ferry.

Effigy Mounds Natural Resources Manager Rodney Rovang and Amy Ries of the Decorah Raptor Resource Project will present on the history and recent discovery of Peregrine falcons at Effigy Mounds National Monument.

May 18 of this year, William Smith, biologist volunteer with the Raptor Resource Project, spotted Peregrine falcons in what appeared to be a nest on the bluffs over the Mississippi River within Effigy Mounds National Monument. This is the first-ever recorded discovery of Peregrines in the park.

Effigy Mounds was the site of recovery and reintroduction efforts focused on restoring Peregrines to their native habitat. Starting in 1998 and continuing into 1999, nine birds per year were released into the wild from hacking boxes attached to the cliffs of Effigy Mounds. The birds immediately dispersed both up and down river.

In 2000, the first documented nest was confirmed in Queens Bluff, MN. However, no nests were ever discovered in Effigy Mounds until now.

Peregrine falcons lived for countless generations along the cliffs of the Upper Mississippi River. The bluffs echoed with their shrill cries and the sky was filled with their spectacular aerobatic courtship displays. The Peregrine disappeared from the cliffs along the Mississippi River in the 1960s due to the use of DDT. The last recorded pair to nest in the area disappeared in 1964.

The reintroduction of Peregrines from Effigy Mounds National Monument in 1998 and 1999 has led to their successful re-establishment in their native habitat. And now, it seems they have found a home in the park.

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