Peregrine Falcon Migration Update: October 2, 1998
Contributed by biologist Geoff Holroyd, Canadian Wildlife Service
Satellite Transmitter 5735 is on the move again, on the back of another female Peregrine Falcon and headed in
a different direction than last year - to Florida and beyond?
On July 6, Geoff Holroyd, a research scientist with Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada and Jeff Dixon,
senior warden, Wood Buffalo National Park caught the female peregrine at her nest near Fort Chipewyan in northeastern
Alberta. The falcon had 3 healthy young even though she was only one year old. Often peregrines do not nest until
they are at least 2 years old. The biologists could tell her age since one year old peregrines have a brown feathers
on their back. By year two their back is slaty blue.
Photo: Skip Ambrose
The satellite transmitter is worn on the falcon's back. It is attached by straps which fit around the wings, like
a backpack. The antenna is almost 9" long.
The transmitter was used last year to track another female from her nest to Mexico and back. The transmitter was
removed from the first falcon on May 11 and the battery was replaced.
The peregrine remained near the nest through July and August. On August 29, warden Dixon confirmed that the female
was still near the nest site tending her young which had been flying for a month.
By mid September, the female was making flights away from her nest site but returned daily. On September 17 she
flew 63 km east to the south shore of Lake Athabasca. On September 20 she was 97 km west of her nest in the giant
wetlands of the Peace Athabasca Delta.
Three days later she crossed the border and entered the U.S. into North Dakota. That morning, September 23 at 8
am, she was near Boisevain, Manitoba, 1300 km southeast of her nest. By 3 pm she was in Minnesota another 400 km
southeast. She had travelled at 50 km per hour all day to cross North Dakota.
By September 26 she was near Davenport, Iowa, about 230 km west of Chicago. She moved little that day, possibly
feeding in the wetlands of the Mississippi River. Three days later she was near Dacatur in northern Alabama along
the Tennessee River. Again she moved little that day. On October 2, she was on the Gulf coast of northern Florida,
50 km south of Tallahassee. During 5 hours she drifted 95 east along the coast of Apalachee Bay.
On October 2 she was 3900 km from her nest in exactly a southeast direction. She travelled this distance in less
than 12 days for an average of 325 km per day.
This female falcon is moving even faster that the falcon that was tracked last autumn. She flew 5000 km in 21 days
from Wood Buffalo National Park to Veracruz, Mexico but she migrated a month earlier and was in her winter home
Where is our second falcon headed? We do not know, maybe she will cross the Gulf of Mexico and head into South
America. Stay tuned.
Geoff Holroyd, Research Scientist
Canadian Wildlife Service
Read Geoff Holroyd's next report and see where #5735
is on October 14
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