The recovery of the Peregrine Falcon is one of the greatest conservation stories in our nation's history. Peregrine Falcon populations plummeted in the United States due to the widespread use of DDT after WWII, and the species was completely extirpated from the eastern United States. A species that preys on small birds, peregrines absorbed the pesticide into their tissue and their eggs became too thin for incubation.
The article tells the story of restoration efforts in Tennessee and the first breeding Peregrine Falcons discovered in 1997, fifty years after the species disappeared from the state. But Tennessee's story is not complete. USFWS reports that North America recorded from 2000-3000 breeding pairs of Peregrines in 2012. Tennessee records currently confirm only one productive breeding eyrie, while neighboring states report from 10-23. In the early twentieth century, prior to the species decline, Tennessee had 25 confirmed eyries.
I would like to acknowledge those who contributed information to this article, especially fellow Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS) members , Harold Sharp and Jack Gentle for their historical observations and photographs, and the TOS publication, The Migrant. Greg Lavaty of Sugar Land, Texas, contributed beautiful flight photographs.
Links and Resources:
Tennessee Conservation Magazine
Greg Lavaty Photography and Bird Guiding
Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS)
The Migrant--TOS' scientific publication