36 Perkins St., PO Box 300040, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Gerry Wright, Founder and President

Telephone: 617-524-7070


TTY/MA RELAY 800-439-2370

Friends of Jamaica Pond

History and Annual Park Keeper Award

Frederick Law Olmsted a one-man play by Gerry Wright

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"Let it be not for present use and delight alone, but let it be of such a work that our descendents will thank us for it."
Frederick Law Olmsted

Class Room:


Jamaica Pond's Albino Gray Squirrel

Eastern Chipmunk

Cottontail Rabbits

Great Horned Owls

Red Tailed Hawks

Butterflies and Dragonflies

Emerald Necklace Wildflowers

Pink Lady's Slipper

Great Blue Herons

Emerald Necklace Fungi (Coming Soon)

Boston's Emerald Necklace

Peregrine Falcon- Falco peregrinus

by Stephen H. Baird

Peregrine Falcons are the fastest animal on earth.  They can fly over 200 miles per hour in steep hunting dives called "stoops." The impact of the dive kills the rock dove (pigeon), European starling, blue jay and other song birds in mid-flight.  The Peregrine Falcon will quickly turn to catch the prey with its talons as it falls or gather it's prey when it hits the ground. The astonishing hunting dives made the Peregrine Falcon a prized species for falconers since ancient times. 

These photographs were taken at the Custom House in Downtown Boston on June 1, 2009.  I noticed a lot of  frantic activity by the falcons as I was doing my periodic bird survey of the Rose Kennedy Greenway and Boston Harbor.  I took a trip up to the observation deck and discovered Dr. Thomas W. French, Asst. Director of Mass Wildlife, who was banding the chicks called "eyases."  The Custom House is a Peregrine Falcon reintroduction nesting site coordinated by Massachusetts Wildlife (DFG). Captured Peregrine Falcons helped save the species from extinction by DDT pesticides used in the U.S. from the 1940s to 1970s. As of 2018, 46 nesting pairs are known in Massachusetts. Before 2017, peregrine falcons were listed as endangered in Massachusetts. Details on the successful introduction efforts below:

  • Mass Wildlife PDF Fact sheet on Peregrine Falcon and nesting program HERE
  • Mass Wildlife web page on Peregrine Falcon HERE
  • Mass Wildlife cam of Peregrine Falcon nesting site at the Custom House downtown Boston HERE
  • Mass Audubon May 20, 2016 blog on Peregrine Falcon banding program. Links to CAMS HERE
  • Interview with Dr. Tom French August 5, 2015 by WBUR David Boeri HERE

  • Field identification: Blue slate grey slender falcon 16-20 inches, with wingspan of 36-44 inches, weigh 1-2 pounds, wide black marlars below dark eyes, lightly banded wings and tail feathers. Male is 1/3 smaller then the female and is called a tiercel or tercel.  Males have a darker plumage.
  • Live an average 12-14 years and up to 20 years. Around 70 percent of new eyases die the first year.
  • Male tiercels conduct an elaborate flight display of dives and loops to attract a mate.  Most mate for life.  Nesting begins in March-April. Incubation of 2-6 eggs take around 39 days. Young eyases fledge in 40 days and will often stay with parents for 5-6 weeks.
  • Nests are shallow scrapes on cliffs or ledges of buildings and bridges in urban settings.
  • Female does most of the nest sitting.  Male will relieve female periodically and will bring food to the nest.

  • Peregrines often hunt in pairs, attack from above and behind and use the sun to blind the prey of their approach. Hunt over 450 north american bird species including ducks, shore birds, blue jays, European starlings and pigeons. Hunt during the day, but also are known to hunt migrating birds during night flights.

Fun Facts:

  • "Stoop" dives have been measured over 200 miles per hour and it flies between 50-60 miles per hour during hunts and regularly flies 25-30 miles per hour.
  • The male tiercel introduced to the Custom House lived for 17 years!  It  raised 50 eyases with several females that populated the entire East Coast from Southern Canada to Florida
  • One younger female killed the older female mate and took her place at the Custom House.
  • Peregrines are nesting at the Boston Custom House area (They have serveral nesting sites in near-by buildings), Tobin Bridge, Christian Science Church, Longwood medical area, and Quincy Ship Yard.
  • "Duck Hawk," "Great-footed Hawk," "Wandering Falcon,"  and the Latin "Falco peregrinus" are other names for the Peregrine Falcon.  The Latin name derivation of falcate is hooked for the birds beak and peregrinus is wander for the northern species long 15,000 mile annual migration from the Canada tundra to South America. (Note: Boston Peregrine Falcons do not migrate.)

References and Links

  • The Peregrine Fund which coordinated and funded the reintroduction program  HERE

  • USGS bird indentification and breeding atlas Peregrine Falcon web page: HERE ( Gough, G.A., Sauer, J.R., Iliff, M. Patuxent Bird Identification Infocenter. 1998. Version 97.1. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD)

  • Cornell University's Ornithology Department on line field guide page on Peregrine Falcon HERE

  • University of Michigan site on Peregrine Falcon (Dewey, T. and M. Potter. 2002. "Falco peregrinus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 18, 2011)  HERE

  • American Ornithology or, The natural history of the birds of the United States... By Alexander Wilson. With a sketch of the author's life, by George Ord, F. L. S. & c., Alexander Wilson (1766-1813) and George Ord (1781-1866), New York :Collins & Co.,1818-1829

  • John James Audubon's Birds of America, Peregrine Falcon detailed original 1840 observation text and paintings on HERE

    • Bent, Arthur C. 1961. Life histories of North American Birds of Prey, Dover Publications, London
    • Massachusetts Wildlife - Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
      • PDF Fact sheet on Peregrine Falcon and nesting program HERE
    • Boston Globe article May 29, 2008 and photo essay by David Ryan on Custom House nesting site HERE
    • Web cam of Peregrine Falcon nesting in
      • Mass Wildlife - Custom House downtown Boston HERE
      • Ancient Mississippian Native Americans mound-building cultures 1000AD-1500AD - Cahokia  Mounds Historic Site  HERE  "Birdman Tablet" HERE

      • Native American Falcon Symbol HERE

      • Native American Hawk Mythology - HERE
      Contact and Email Information


      36 Perkins St., PO Box 300040, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

      Gerry Wright, Founder and President

      Telephone: 617-524-7070


      TTY/MA RELAY 800-439-2370

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