The Destruction of Peregrine Falcon Order
In 1940 the Government issued a Destruction of Peregrine Falcon Order because this most successful of predators was taking out the pigeons that were being used by bomber command if the crews had to bail out in order to get a message back with their location. Around 200,000 pigeons were supplied by private breeders as message carriers.but maybe 600 peregrines were killed as a result of the order. In areas like Cornwall and Devon peregrines were almost completely wiped out. By the 1960s pigeon-fanciers in South Wales were complaining that the peregrines were causing major losses but in the investigation that followed it was found that there had been a massive decline in the numbers of this falcon and this was primarily down to the use of DDT. In 1962 they reached a low point with only 350 pairs left in Britain. Our ancestors revered the falcon – the male was known as a Tiercel from the French for 'la tierce' as it is a third smaller than the female. They would have been horrified to hear how we have been persecuting a bird that has been descibed as the Ferrari of the bird world, 'our most splendid bird of prey' and 'of all wild creatures the peregrine is the most truly symbolic of freedom'. Fortunately egg collecting became illegal from the 1960s and persecuting the birds is illegal. That however does not stop it being shot and poisoned as regular reports of killed birds appear in the newspapers. Last year a Peregrine nesting on the roof of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's headquarters building was shot and killed. But they are resilient birds and it is wonderful to be able to publish this photo of a peregrine taken in the parish of Wenvoe in late November.