[CT Birds] Peregrines and Coyotes Oh My
Kathy Van Der Aue
kvda at optonline.net
Fri Aug 31 11:36:54 EDT 2007
I have enjoyed reading all the comments on peregrines and have learned a lot
about the extinct Eastern race. I recommend a book by James T. Harris "The
Peregrine Falcon in Greenland", University of Missouri Press, 1979 which is
a scientific but descriptive account of the author's summer in Greenland
researching the peregrine falcons there. He states (p.45):
"Some races of the peregrine still reproduce as they have always done but
the once far-ranging anatum peregrines have disappeared almost entirely, the
populations of F.p. peregrinus are shattered and weak while the tundra
peregrines are contaminated with pesticides and reproductive failures have
been discovered in parts of their range. Despite the visual similarity of
one peregrine to another, the surviving races do not replicate the genetic
makeup of a sister race that has vanished."
Of course his work was in 1972 and, thank goodness, we have made some
progress, but as to the question posed by Dennis, "Do races really matter?"
My opinion on that is that we lose biological diversity on this planet every
day. Who are we to say that one race is superior to another (including the
human race)? Preservation of diverse native populations enriches us all,
whether we appreciate it or not. One of the most thrilling moments on our
recent trip to Siberia was watching a peregrine in a stoop, capturing a snow
bunting. I love to think that future generations will also see this sight.
Kathy Van Der Aue, Southport, CT
kvda at optonline.net
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis Varza" <dennisvz at optonline.net>
To: "Posting Bird List" <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2007 8:24 AM
Subject: [CT Birds] Peregrines and Coyotes Oh My
Here are some un-considered (wanted?) thoughts to give the pot a good
What is the nature of the distiction of races and do they really
matter? Races are recognized variation in a population, usually
physical characteristics and have a geographic component. Races are
usually not discrete populations but continous meaning there are
intermediates out there on the edges. Fairly isolated populations
eventually rise to the rank of sub-species.
How important are the physical distinctions? Are they markers for
distinctive behavoiral characteristics? In life there is no black/
white, yes/no but degrees. There is a gradation from race to sub-
species to species. Where one draws the line is subjective and the
source of argument (lumpers vs. splitters).
I believe the behavioral plasticity of the bird will overcome any
genetic characteristics. One could get in trouble here by making
refrences to humans. Plus, once present in the “same environment?”
evolution will get to work on them. This reminds me of an incident I
read about that took place on the Island of Mauritius (Island of the
Dodo). There is a flacon species there that nested in trees. Then
came men and rats and the falcon population took a nose dive due to
predation. I believe they were down to about 6 pairs when one pair
took to nesting on cliffs. Now there are plenty of birds.
Regarding “City Birds” My Uncle told stories about Peregirnes in NYC
feeding on the pigeons there (20’s-and 30’s) It wasn’t clear wether
they were local or passage birds. The point is, there is a history of
Peregrines and cities.
Finally, to link the Coyote comments. Yes, the eastern animals are
larger than western animals. The ideas floating about are that the
absence of wolves in the east (Wolves kill coyotes on sight) allowed
the Coyotes invade and to feed on the abundant deer. Being larger
makes them better able to feed on deer and hence more wolflike. By
the way Eastern Wolves were also larger than western wolves except
for the Prarie Wolf that fed on Bison and were really really big.
Shoud we reintroduce Wolves to eliminate the Coyotes because they are
the “pure race”? But then again the eastern wolf was exterminated so
early that there are few specimens in museums. Some scientists had to
resort to examining specimens made into Indian artifacts. If we
introduce wolves what race should we use? Are Minnisota Wolves good
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