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The Peregrine Fund

In Flight for More than Half a Century

Article by Chelsea Chambers

Photography by Tate Mason, Jim Shane, Philip McClain, Linda Leadbetter, Peregrine Fund

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

WHOOOOSH! Did you see that?! Well, you may very well have missed it… because it was diving at over 200 miles per hour, cascading dramatically from over 1,000 feet in the air! Known as the fastest bird in the world, the Peregrine Falcon is a master predator, despite weighing hardly three pounds. The speed and velocity at which these falcons attack their prey typically kills on impact. But that’s no surprise when you’re flying faster than a Ferrari. This miraculous creature has inspired many, including our great state of Idaho, as it became the official “state raptor” in 2004. 

Established in 1970 as a way to educate the public about and protect the endangered (at the time) Peregrine Falcon, the Peregrine Fund (also known as the Worlds Center for Birds of Prey) took flight far beyond falcons into all birds of prey and wildlife conservation as whole. Officially removed from the endangered species list in 1999, the Peregrine Falcon is a conservation success story that inspires many naturalists to take note.

Fascinating creatures, birds of prey hold an air of mystery about them. From razor sharp claws to their keen eyes, birds of prey encompass many things, from the famous Bald Eagle to the American Kestrel, Idaho’s smallest raptor.

“Birds of Prey are like the fabled canary in a coal mine,” shared Tate Mason, Director of the World Center for Birds of Prey. “They are excellent indicators of environmental health. The Peregrine Fund works to save birds of prey worldwide, thereby creating healthier landscapes for both raptors and people. We base our decisions in science, and work diligently to bring stakeholders together to find solutions that work for everyone.”

Tate has been involved with the Fund for nearly a decade and is passionate about wildlife conservation and environmental education. “As a biologist, I have had the opportunity to see some amazing birds up close and personal,” Tate said, enthusiastically. “At the World Center for Birds of Prey we are able to make those experiences accessible to anyone, which enables people to make deeper connections with nature. Getting kids fired up about birds is one of the favorite parts of my job!”

The organization is funded primarily by Peregrine Fund members and foundations. They also receive a limited amount of federal funding from the Endangered Species Recovery Projects program. Operated by a small staff and a dedicated group of volunteers, the Peregrine Fund offers activities for visitors of all ages. They provide home school tours, group events, educational tours, day camps, and a fantastic program known as Fall Flights. ‘Every weekend from mid-September through the end of October/early November, see our education birds fly outdoors, where they swoop and soar over the heads of delighted audiences to show off their amazing aerial skills.’

This year’s Fall Flights events wrap up on November 5, but they’ll be back in 2024 for more impressive displays of prowess, intelligence, and skill.

“We create encounters with raptors that anyone can experience,” Tate explained. “For example, just today we flew a trained Peregrine Falcon, which then barrel-rolled in the wind and stooped down to our trainer at an incredible speed. The flight was amazing to see, maybe surpassing the beauty of any flight I’ve encountered in the wild. To be able to share these experiences with people is really magical.”

Looking to get involved? They are almost always looking for volunteers! But you don’t need to volunteer at the Center to help conserve our precious wildlife. Anyone can make small changes today that help protect birds of prey and other wildlife for generations to come!

Help Protect Raptor Conservation by…

  • Landscaping with native plants
  • Reducing the use of pesticides and poisons around the home and in the garden (it is believed that pesticides were one of the primary causes of death for Peregrines and other birds)
  • Leaving snags (dead trees) for use as wildlife homes 
  • Keeping cats indoors
  • For hunters, consider using non-lead ammo

For more information on The World Center for Birds of Prey, the Peregrine Fund, volunteer opportunities and upcoming events, visit them online at PeregrineFund.org. There you can read more on their interesting history, their mission and vision, and future goals. "When raptors soar, we soar."

We are able to make those experiences accessible to anyone, which enables people to make deeper connections with nature. Getting kids fired up about birds is one of the favorite parts of my job!

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