Talons clenched, eyes locked on prey, a peregrine falcon looks almost peaceful as it leans forward, relaxes and drops into a 200-mph dive for dinner. It is the fastest known animal on earth. And it has no predator.
Yet there was a time when the raptors' screeches went silent along the riverside cliffs of Illinois. Their population here: zero.
By the 1960s, humans had taken a toll. Pesticides like DDT thinned their eggshells, so parents crushed their chicks before they even hatched. Season after season, fewer and fewer.
But after the population nosedive, a climb.
The peregrine falcon's status in Illinois has improved over the years from endangered to threatened, and now the bird has been removed altogether from the state list of species needing aid, said officials, who plan to make the announcement Tuesday. Peregrine falcons are still federally protected but no longer on the edge of extinction.
Why does this story have anything to do with Sloopin. Well, there are some of the Falcons who live in the Sloop. You can see some of the tracking information on the Field Museums website.
Beyond that, awhile ago we did a post trying to help the Museum locate where some of the Falcons were nesting. Thanks to our readers there was some help and the Museum actually named one of the birds Sloopy!
Since then we've had a variety of emails from readers taking amazing pictures when the spot the Falcon. Here is our favorite:
Anyway, nice to see hear this news! And keep your eyes open for these guys!