Conserve Wildlife Blog

Number of Peregrine Falcons Hatched in New Jersey Rose to 78 in 2019

February 5th, 2020

Ben Wurst, Conserve Wildlife Foundation Biologist, with peregrine falcon. 

The peregrine falcon’s New Jersey comeback story continued in 2019. The number of young produced rose slightly to 78 in 2019, as compared to 75 in 2018. The adult population was slightly lower at 38 known pairs, as compared to 40 known pairs in 2018.

Peregrine falcon populations had plummeted across much of the United States due to widespread use of the pesticide DDT before it was banned in 1972. Since the early 1980’s, peregrine falcons have been recovering at a slow but steady pace in New Jersey. While population numbers continue to increase, peregrine falcons still face a number of serious threats in New Jersey, particularly contaminants like pesticides, PCBs, and heavy metals in the food web.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF) and our partner New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) recently released the 2019 New Jersey Peregrine Falcon Research and Management Program Report highlighting the continued recovery of the peregrine falcon in New Jersey.

“The fastest animal on earth has triumphantly returned to the skies over New Jersey, soaring above hundreds of thousands of people in cities like Jersey City, Elizabeth, and Atlantic City, as well as in metropolises like New York City and Philadelphia,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation executive director David Wheeler. “This is a remarkable success story, particularly after there were no peregrine falcons left east of the Mississippi River just a few decades ago.”

In 2019 peregrine falcons nested in a diverse range of habitats.  The majority of New Jersey’s population, 20 pairs, continues to nest on towers and buildings. Nine pairs nested on bridges in 2019. Five of those bridges lie completely within the boundaries of New Jersey, while four span the Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania and were monitored by New Jersey. Another 9 pairs occupied territories in natural cliff habitat in northeastern New Jersey. 

Biologists from ENSP and CWF banded 59 young falcons, enabling identification over the individual falcons’ lives.

Peregrine falcons were wiped out east of the Mississippi River, including being fully extirpated in New Jersey by the mid-1960s. They were federally listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969.

The New Jersey Division of Fish Wildlife began a restoration program, in partnership with The Peregrine Fund, in 1975 that included hacking, or placing captive-bred birds in boxes to mimic natural nesting sites. The successful reintroduction of peregrines and improvement in environmental health allowed for their widespread recovery and federal delisting in 1999. 

“As top tier predators, peregrines continue to highlight the improvement in the overall health of New Jersey’s environment. Their collective health is a direct reflection of the area in which they live. We wouldn’t be where we are today without our private partners, many who host pairs that nest on their buildings. They are crucial to the long term stability of these extraordinary birds of prey,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation habitat manager Ben Wurst.

CWF manages popular free peregrine falcon webcams at nests in Elizabeth, in partnership with Union County, and in Jersey City. The webcams are integral parts of CWF’s environmental education programs, thanks to sponsors such as Phillips 66, PSEG Foundation, Victoria Foundation, New Jersey Education Association, David and Carol Lackland Family Foundation, and the Zoological Society of New Jersey.


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