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First Falcon Study in Northern Greenland Using Satellite Tracking
22 March 2001
Biologists from The Peregrine Fund will initiate the first long-term satellite radio telemetry study of Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus) and Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) this coming summer. During the months of July and August, biologists will place the small, lightweight, and sophisticated transmitters on adult and juvenile falcons near Thule, Greenland. Eight of the transmitters will be placed on a white color phase population of Gyrfalcons and four transmitters will be placed on the most northern known population of Peregrine Falcons in the world. These transmitters will enable biologists to monitor the daily movements of the falcons for more than one year. The data obtained from these transmitters will give biologists the first information about Gyrfalcon and Peregrine Falcon movements from northern Greenland during the non-breeding season. The information is critical in helping biologists determine geographic areas of importance for conservation of falcons in the future.
"No one really knows where Gyrfalcons from the west coast of Greenland spend the winter months. It is unlikely they stay in their breeding territories because of the three months of absolute darkness during winter. Possibilities include migrating to southern Greenland or Canada or even wintering on the ice and feeding on wintering seabird populations," stated Kurt K. Burnham, Projects Director of all The Peregrine Fund's work in Greenland.
From research conducted in southern Greenland, biologists expect the high arctic Peregrine Falcons will migrate to Central and South America.
This study is all part of The Peregrine Fund's ongoing research and conservation efforts in Greenland. The falcons' movements will be placed on The Peregrine Fund's web site, and updated regularly. This past summer two satellite transmitters were placed on Gyrfalcons in southwest Greenland and these falcons' movements can currently be viewed on the web site.
In total, Greenland is more than 1,660 miles long and more than 650 miles wide with 85% of the island being covered in ice. Currently The Peregrine Fund works in five unique geographical areas in Greenland. The Thule study area is in northwest Greenland, approximately 800 miles from the North Pole. The Peregrine Fund's research in Greenland is authorized by and in conjunction with the Greenland Home Rule Government and Danish Polar Center.
The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 at Cornell University in response to the catastrophic decline of the Peregrine Falcon throughout much of North America. The efforts to save this species resulted in breakthroughs in the field of endangered species recovery. The Peregrine Fund was also the first to breed Gyrfalcons in captivity. In addition to the Peregrine Falcon and Gyrfalcon, The Peregrine Fund is involved with conservation projects around the world with species such as the California Condor, Philippine Eagle, Aplomado Falcon, Mauritius Kestrel, Madagascar Fish-Eagle, Orange-breasted Falcon, and others. In addition, The Peregrine Fund has numerous other programs around the world focusing on conserving endangered environments (e.g. forests, wetlands, etc.) and improving local people's knowledge and conservation ability.Return to news releases