Falco peregrinus

Range & Status

Almost worldwide distribution; in Britain and Ireland decreased from 700 pairs in 1939 to a low of 250 pairs by 1963 (due to a wartime campaign to prevent loss of RAF homing pigeons, followed by toxic pesticide problems). Pesticides created a worldwide ' crash' in numbers (in many parts of the world it has not yet recovered). Stricter controls on the use of the most toxic pesticides has allowed a dramatic recovery, with 1283 pairs in Britain and Ireland by 1991 (20% of European population).

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: all breeding sites eradicated by 1945, but 12 - 17 sites reoccupied early in 1950s. No young reared between 1960 and 1969, but young fledged from three sites in 1976; by 1992 there were about 25 occupied sites increasing to 35 by 2004. Isles of Scilly: breeds most years in the Eastern Isles.

Habitat & Ecology

Breeds on coastal cliffs, tall buildings and railway viaducts, but one or two inland quarry sites are also in use. Ranges widely along coasts and estuaries.

Threats

Disturbance from climbers, the illegal theft of chicks for falconry and growing pressure to ' control the numbers of Peregrines' from pigeon fanciers.

Conservation

Sites should remain confidential. Protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and

Countryside Act 1981 and Annexe 1 of the European Union Conservation of Wild Birds Directive. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).