ST. PAUL (AP) -- One of the first captive-bred peregrine falcons in the Midwest is being treated at The Raptor Center for a serious infection apparently contracted from eating pigeons.
The 15-year-old falcon named Harriet was found thin and undernourished in the Midway area of St. Paul and taken to the center at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine on May 9, said center director Pat Redig. A number on the bird's leg band identified her.
Tests showed the falcon had trichomoniasis, a protozoan disease also known as frounce, Redig said. The disease is carried by pigeons, one of the preferred food sources of peregrine falcons, he said.
''Most peregrines develop an immunity to this disease, but with advancing age, it is possible that Harriet's immune system was less effective in dealing with it,'' Redig said.
Harriet was treated with an oral parasiticide and is being ''fattened up'' with daily meals of quail, Redig said Thursday.
Harriet was released in Minneapolis in 1985 as part of the Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project. For 10 years, she nested on the Wacker Building in downtown Chicago, where she is documented to have laid 42 eggs and hatched 29 chicks, 18 that lived to leave the nest. She is the longest-known nesting peregrine in the wild.
In January 1988, Harriet was found with a broken wing on the roof of a Chicago parking ramp. She was sent to The Raptor Center for treatment and returned to the wild by U.S. Treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow on Aug. 25, 1998, in celebration the proposed removal of the peregrine falcon from the endangered species list.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the use of DDT pesticide nearly eliminated the peregrine falcon in the United States and it was listed as an endangered species. The Peregrine was removed from the endangered species list in 1999.
The Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project reports that there are now more than 100 nesting pairs of peregrine falcons throughout the Midwest.
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