Iowa’s population of peregrine falcons is on the rise, which state environmental officials say is an indicator our waterways and wetlands are becoming less polluted. Pat Schlarbaum, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity Program , says there were ten nesting pairs of falcons in Iowa last year — now, there are at least a dozen.
Schlarbaum says three bridges along the Mississippi River have attracted nesting pairs of the falcons this year, including the Interstate 80 bridge at LeClaire, the I-280 bridge at Davenport and the Great River Bridge at Burlington. Of the ten pairs nesting in the state in 2006, he says five successful nestings produced 11 young. While that might not seem like many birds, Schlarbaum says it’s an important step in bringing the species back to the Hawkeye State.
Schlarbaum says the peregrine falcons were "wiped out" east of the Missouri River in the 1960s. "They’re recovering now with over 400 nesting pairs in the Midwest. It’s a real good indicator of a healthier, cleaner environment and striving to do more would be a good inspiration point as people see these birds."
The falcons are often attracted to tall buildings and cliffs, while two of Iowa’s nesting pairs are atop power plant smokestacks — at the Alliant Energy plant in Wapello County and at the M.L. Kapp power plant in Clinton. Schlarbaum says he’s thrilled the number of nesting pairs has now reached a dozen.
Schlarbaum says: "The 12 that we have in Iowa is a cause for a lot of appreciation to a lot of people that have been working with these birds, since we started in 1989." The DNR has set up a live "falcon-cam" to watch a pair of the birds nesting atop the American Republic Insurance building in downtown Des Moines. It’s at: