Species Profile

Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius

Scientific Name: Falco peregrinus anatum/tundrius
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2017
COSEWIC Status: Not at Risk
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: Following dramatic declines in the mid 20th century, this species has rebounded significantly over the past few decades, with continued moderate to strong increases in many parts of Canada since the last status report in 2007. The initial recovery was a result of reintroductions across much of southern Canada following the ban of organochlorine pesticides (e.g., DDT). Increasingly, the ongoing population growth is a function of healthy productivity and, in the case of urban-nesting pairs, exploitation of previously unoccupied habitat. While pollutants continue to be used on the wintering grounds of some individuals, and can be found in tissue samples, they appear to be at levels that are not affecting reproductive success at the population level. The extent to which populations have recovered relative to historical levels is generally unknown, but the consistent strong growth of the overall population suggests that there are currently no significant threats to the species.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The Peregrine Falcon in Canada was originally evaluated by COSEWIC as three separate subspecies: anatum subspecies (Endangered in April 1978, Threatened in April 1999 and in May 2000), tundrius subspecies (Threatened in April 1978 and Special Concern in April 1992) and pealei subspecies (Special Concern in April 1978, April 1999 and November 2001). In April 2007, the Peregrine Falcon in Canada was assessed as two separate units: pealei subspecies and anatum/tundrius. Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius was designated Special Concern in April 2007. Status re-examined and designated Not at Risk in November 2017.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2012-06-20

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Peregrine Falcon tundrius subspecies Non-active Special Concern

Quick Links: | Taxonomy | Description | Habitat | Biology | Other Protection or Status | National Recovery Program | Documents

Taxonomy

Of the 19 known subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon, three are found in North America: F. p. anatum, F. p. tundrius and F. p. pealei. As the differences currently noted between the anatum and tundrius subspecies are subtle, they are grouped here as a single unit.

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Description

The Peregrine Falcon is a bird of prey the size of a common crow. It has long, pointed wings that allow it to fly at record speeds of up to 300 km/h in a stoop. Adults have a blackish facial stripe under each eye that gives the effect of a long “mustache.” Adults have bluish-gray or darker upperparts and paler underparts that are whitish, greyish, or buffy with brown bars on the sides and legs, and brown spots on the belly. The underside of the wings is white with black streaks. The male and female are mainly distinguished by their size, with females being larger than the males. The immature bird resembles the adult but its face and upperparts are brown. Its facial stripe is black, its tail dark brown with whitish streaks and white tips, and the underparts are buffy with blackish streaks. The three subspecies that nest in Canada are very similar, with slight differences found in the colouring of the plumage and size of the bird. The tundrius subspecies is generally paler and smaller, while the underparts of the anatum subspecies are orange or brownish in color. These two subspecies are smaller and paler than the pealei subspecies.

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Distribution and Population

The Peregrine Falcon is a species that breeds on all continents, except Antarctica. It is not found in New Zealand, Iceland and islands of the eastern Pacific Ocean. The subspecies do not have the same distribution. The anatum Peregrine Falcon breeds in the interior of Alaska and throughout northern Canada up to southern Greenland, and across continental North American up to northern Mexico. In Canada it is found in all territories and provinces except Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and the Island of Newfoundland. The tundrius Peregrine Falcon breeds in Alaska and throughout northern Canada up to Greenland. It winters from northern Mexico and as far south as Chile and Argentina. In Canada, it breeds from northern Yukon, the low Arctic islands, northern Northwest Territories and northern Nunavut up to Baffin Island, Hudson Bay, Ungava and northern Labrador. Since 1970, national surveys aimed at determining trends of nesting Peregrine Falcon populations have been carried out every five years in Canada. These surveys reveal that the number of anatum and tundrius Peregrine Falcons has considerably increased since 1970, especially from 2000 to 2005. Populations increased by 43% in occupied sites in southern Ontario and by 107% in southern Quebec, which suggests that Peregrine Falcon populations are almost as abundant as they were before the collapse resulting from the use of organochlorine pesticides. Based on the data gathered, there were at least 969 mature anatum Peregrine Falcons and 199 tundrius Peregrine Falcons. The minimum size of the combined population of these groups was therefore at least 1168 mature individuals. These estimates are certainly lower than the actual numbers, especially for the tundrius subspecies, whose nesting area, which extends over a vast, relatively uninhabited arctic landscape, has not been fully surveyed. This recovery is the result of reintroductions in most of southern Canada and the natural growth in productivity following the ban on organochlorine pesticides in Canada, especially DDT. About 1500 anatum Peregrine Falcons raised in captivity were released in Canada from 1975 to 2001.

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Habitat

The Peregrine Falcon is found in various types of habitats, from Arctic tundra to coastal areas and from prairies to urban centres. It usually nests alone on cliff ledges or crevices, preferably 50 to 200 m in height, but sometimes on the ledges of tall buildings or bridges, always near good foraging areas. Suitable nesting sites are usually dispersed, but can be common locally in some areas. The natural nesting habitat has not changed significantly since the population crash and is still largely available. In addition, structures built by humans in both rural and urban areas provide the Peregrine Falcon with other potential nesting sites. And though urbanization and other land uses have had a significant impact on some areas where they feed, Peregrine Falcons can usually modify their diet based on the prey species present in a given area.

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Biology

The Peregrine Falcon primarily feeds on birds that it typically catches in flight. Its prey has also been known to include bats, rodents and other mammals. Peregrine Falcons begin breeding during their second year. Adults demonstrate a high degree of breeding site fidelity and are known to reuse the same nest site for decades. Nests are generally scraped in substrate on cliff ledges. Peregrine Falcons usually produce a single clutch of two to five eggs per year. Incubation, which is handled mostly by the female, lasts 32 to 35 days. Nestlings leave the nest after about 40 days and continue to be fed by adults. They remain in the vicinity of the nest site for three to six weeks after fledging. Most then disperse widely, up to hundreds of kilometres from natal areas. Peregrine Falcons have a life expectancy of 4 to 5 years, but some individuals have been known to live up to 20. Even though in some areas young falcons may be preyed on by the red fox, Golden Eagle and Great Horned Owl, predation is not a major threat for the species. The main causes of mortality are collisions with buildings and vehicles among fledglings, or unfavourable climatic conditions (cold, rain) for more northern populations. In the fall, most Peregrine Falcons migrate to the southern United States, Mexico, Central America and South America. However, some couples in coastal and northern areas may remain at the nesting site all winter if there is an abundant supply of food. This is particularly true for anatum Peregrine Falcons that nest in urban areas in Eastern Canada. Its capacity to adapt to and breed in an urban environment has been a key factor in the recovery of North American populations of anatum Peregrine Falcons.

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Reproductive failure caused by exposure to organochlorine pesticides, in particular DDT, is the main factor for the historic decline of North American Peregrine Falcon populations. Use of these pesticides causes a thinning and subsequent breaking of the egg shells during incubation. Since organochlorine pesticides were banned in Canada and the United States in the early 1970s and in Mexico in 2000, there has been a decrease in the levels of these pesticides in Peregrine Falcon tissues, which has been associated with the increase in reproductive success over the last few years. However, pesticide levels still exceed critical limits in some individuals, and organochlorine pesticides are still used in some parts of the wintering grounds of the anatum and tundrius subspecies. It was recently shown that new pesticides regularly used in the country, i.e., polybrominated odiphenyl ethers, also represent a potential threat for the species. However, the effects of these chemicals, found in high concentrations in the tissues of some Peregrine Falcons, are unknown. The coastal populations of anatum and tundrius Peregrine Falcons may increase or decrease in keeping with fluctuations in seabird populations that they feed on, as is the case of the pealei subspecies. In some areas, seabirds are threatened by introduced mammalian predators, and the number of falcons may be reduced if their prey decrease in number. Disturbances caused by humans at nesting sites, the potential increase in the number of juvenile falcons legally harvested for falconry purposes, and poaching of eggs and young birds for the same purpose are also considered to be factors that may pose a threat to the species.

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Other Protection or Status

The Peregrine Falcon is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which restricts the import and export of birds and eggs in signatory countries.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

18 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius (2007-12-04)

    Continental populations of this species have shown continuing increases in population size since the 1970’s up to near historical numbers. Population thresholds for downlisting have been achieved for both the tundrius and anatum subspecies. This recovery has been the result of reintroductions across much of southern Canada, and natural increases in productivity following the ban in Canada of organochlorine pesticides (e.g. DDT). These compounds were the primary factor responsible for the historic decline. These pesticides continue to be used on the wintering grounds, and continue to be found in peregrine tissues, albeit at levels that do not significantly affect reproductive success. The unknown effects of new pesticides regularly licensed for use in Canada are also a concern.
  • Response Statement - Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius (2019-01-11)

    Following dramatic declines in the mid 20th century, this species has rebounded significantly over the past few decades, with continued moderate to strong increases in many parts of Canada since the last status report in 2007. The initial recovery was a result of reintroductions across much of southern Canada following the ban of organochlorine pesticides (e.g., DDT). Increasingly, the ongoing population growth is a function of healthy productivity and, in the case of urban-nesting pairs, exploitation of previously unoccupied habitat. While pollutants continue to be used on the wintering grounds of some individuals, and can be found in tissue samples, they appear to be at levels that are not affecting reproductive success at the population level. The extent to which populations have recovered relative to historical levels is generally unknown, but the consistent strong growth of the overall population suggests that there are currently no significant threats to the species.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada (2016-11-22)

    Bruce Peninsula National Park (BPNP) and Fathom Five National Marine Park (FFNMP) lie at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula which separates Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. The peninsula is 90 km in length and its most prominent feature is the Niagara Escarpment which runs along the entire eastern edge. Within BPNP, the escarpment forms the Georgian Bay shoreline and is recognized as part of the core area of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  BPNP was established by the federal government in 1987 to protect a representative example of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands natural region. Because of the fragmented nature of the park properties, many of the stresses on the park’s ecosystem originate from outside its boundaries. For this reason, First Nations, local residents, non-governmental organizations, and other groups and land users play an important role in managing, restoring, and protecting the northern Bruce ecosystem. 
  • Multi-species Action Plan for La Mauricie National Park and National Historic Sites of La Mauricie and Western Quebec regions (2020-10-06)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for La Mauricie National Park and Canada's national historic sites (NHS) that are part of the Mauricie and Western Quebec Field Unit (MWQFU) applies to the land and waters within the boundaries of La Mauricie National Park (LMNP) and 13 NHSs in Quebec: Obadjiwan–Fort Témiscamingue; Forges-du-Saint-Maurice; Fort Chambly; Fort Lennox; Battle of the Châteauguay; Coteau-du-Lac; Carillon Barracks; Manoir Papineau; Louis-Joseph Papineau; Louis S. St-Laurent; Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site; Sir Wilfrid Laurier; and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. This plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA; section 47) for species requiring an action plan that regularly occur on these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in LMNP and on associated NHSs.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (2016-07-05)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Pukaskwa National Park of Canada (2017-04-28)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Pukaskwa National Park of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the park. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at Pukaskwa National Park (PNP).
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Thousand Islands National Park of Canada (2016-03-29)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Thousand Islands National Park of Canada is a Species At Risk Act action plan (SARA s.47) for four species: American Water-willow (Justicia americana), Butternut (Juglans cinerea), Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), and Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus). The plan also outlines measures to monitor and manage 30 other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in the park. This plan applies only to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Thousand Islands National Park of Canada.

Management Plans

  • Management Plan for the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius (Falco peregrinus anatum/tundrius) in Canada (2017-10-12)

    The Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada is the competent minister under SARA for the Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius, and has prepared this plan as per section 65 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, the Sahtu, Gwich'in and Wek'eezhii renewable resources boards, the Tlicho Government, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (NWT), the Ehdiitat Renewable Resource Council, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (NorthSlope), the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, and the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee Board.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (volume 145, number 23, 2011) (2011-11-09)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, hereby acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 146, number 14, 2012) (2012-07-04)

    The purpose of the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act is to add 18 species to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List), and to reclassify 7 listed species, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of SARA. This amendment is made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 (2007-08-30)

    2007 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2017 to 2018 (2018-10-15)

    Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 90 wildlife species and 11 of these were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 90, COSEWIC re-examined the status of 38 wildlife species; of these, the majority (87%) were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 771 wildlife species in various risk categories including 338 Endangered, 183 Threatened, 228 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 18 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, and a total of 59 wildlife species have also been designated as Data Deficient and 197 have been assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.

Permits and Related Agreements

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act - Terrestrial Species (2008-03-10)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 25, 2008 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 27, 2009 for species undergoing extended consultations.
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species January 2019 (2019-01-15)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection afforded by the prohibitions and from recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 580 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments by May 13, 2019, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 14, 2019, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry website at: The Minister of the Environment's Response to Species at Risk Assessments.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update July 29, 2021
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