Officer Winsor blocked a couple lanes of traffic for 30 minutes to protect a bird that was feasting on a pigeon in the middle of the road. His reasoning was simple: “Anything that kills pigeons is good with me.”
But Winsor soon learned he was protecting a rare peregrine falcon, which is the fastest bird in the world.
“It’s a great success story,” says Lori Naumann with Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources.
It’s unusual to see a peregrine in the middle of a busy road, Naumann says, but they are becoming more common in the Twin Cities. And it wasn’t always that way.
“In the 1950s and 60s, they were almost extinct,” she says. “They were placed on the endangered species list.”
Thanks to intense restoration projects that started in the 1970s and 80s, Minnesota now has more than 50 peregrine pairs, which raised 93 young last year.
“The population is doing really, really well,” Naumann says.
The U.S. ban on D.D.T. was another reason for the peregrine’s comeback. It was removed from the U.S. endangered species list in 1999. It remains on the state’s threatened species list, but Naumann says it could be removed in the next couple years.
Because the peregrine on Snelling had a band around its leg with the code “27A,” we know she was born in 2007 and is named Elspeth. She’s named after the granddaughter of Bud Tordoff, the man behind Minnesota’s peregrine restoration.
“Dr. Tordoff passed away last year, so it was pretty special to see that this was a bird that’s still surviving,” Naumann says.
Elspeth is simply a sign of his success, which is good news for peregrines, but bad news for pigeons.