Submitted by John Pollpeter
Soaring above the iron works of the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge, peregrine falcons survey their winter kingdom. Each winter, these once rare birds return to Land Between The Lakes following migrating waterfowl.
Also known as “duck hawks,” these crow-sized falcons are the fastest animal on Earth; diving at 240 mph. These “speed demons” use high perches such as cliffs, bridges, or buildings to launch a successful hunt. Peregrines tend to focus on hunting birds and often catch their prey on the wing.
The Eggner’s Ferry Bridge, as well as the other bridges near Land Between The Lakes, serves as a perfect location to view the birds while they live here.
Like the bald eagles, the peregrine falcons have also recovered after the pesticide DDT was banned. Recovery efforts by the Peregrine Fund and state governments like Kentucky nursed them back.
During the 1990’s Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Resources reintroduced peregrine falcons into the Commonwealth by releasing them in cities such as Louisville and Lexington. Biologists have discovered the falcons have higher survival rates in cites. The abundance of high rises, industrial buildings, and bridges substitutes their perches for cliffs and bluffs. In addition the abundance of easy prey like pigeons and the low number of predators like great-horned owls also help to increase their success in survival.
Over the years, these endangered raptors have been making a big comeback. At Land Between The Lakes we’ve been seeing wintering falcons for over a decade. You can find them in the old osprey nests during December to March.
Your best viewing opportunities will be in the morning. Best and safest way to see the peregrine falcons is to pull off before the bridge or on one of Land Between The Lakes eagle boat tours coming in January. To sign up for our tours, call 270-924-2020.