Writer Mark Hedden broke some big news in our December issue, on newsstands now: Peregrine Falcons have nested in Paris, France, for the first time in more than a century.
In France as in North America, the Peregrine population had crashed due to the agricultural use of DDT and other organochlorides, making the species — and several others — scarce in most of the European landscape. But now it’s making a comeback.
Falcons were first spotted in the vicinity of Gustave Eiffel’s famous tower in autumn 2011, but the birds did not nest until 2013.
In November 2012, atop an all-white, 400-foot-tall chimney, a box intended for kestrels was renovated to accommodate falcons, and a motion-activated video camera was installed. The chimney vents boilers that generate steam used to heat buildings throughout Paris.
The historic Peregrine pair, nicknamed Yaca and Yaco by kindergarten students in the 15th Arrondissement, occupied the box the following spring. The falcons laid three eggs, which hatched in April — the first to do so in the city since the end of the 19th century.
The birds fledged in June, though not without incident: One of the youngsters, a female, was injured while making her maiden flight but was treated at a veterinary school and released a few days later.
Looking to repeat their success, Yaca and Yaco returned to the chimney and laid four eggs in late February 2014. All hatched. Three of the new falcons left the nest box the morning of May 18. The fourth, perhaps hesitant to leave an apartment with such a good view, didn’t test his wings until the 22nd.
We have our fingers crossed that the falcons will nest again in the new year.