This spring, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History will share the story of a remarkable raptor and its return from the brink of extinction.
“Peregrine Falcon: From Endangered Species to Urban Bird,” a traveling exhibit from the Bell Museum of Natural History, opens at the UO museum June 1. Through vivid displays, hands-on interactives and real bird specimens, visitors will discover how peregrine falcons recovered from endangered status and came to thrive in urban settings thanks to a collaborative effort by community members, conservation advocates and scientists.
The species once ranged throughout North America but was nearly wiped out due to the effects of DDT, a chemical pesticide that came into widespread use after World War II. In 1972, two years after peregrines had been federally listed as an endangered species, DDT was banned in the United States. But further intervention was needed to ensure peregrines’ full recovery.
That intervention arrived in the form of an unprecedented partnership between conservation groups, breeders, community members and public agencies, whose concerted efforts brought the species back from its near extinction. Removed from the endangered species list in 1999, peregrine falcons today are thriving across North America in wild and urban environments alike.
“Every day, the world’s headlines point to human impacts on the environment and the resulting loss of biodiversity,” said exhibitions director Ann Craig. “This exhibit rings a hopeful note, reminding us that we can also make a positive difference, that we can be instrumental in ensuring the survival of threatened species.”
The exhibit’s grand opening celebration is set for Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum. Visitors of all ages are invited to explore the exhibit, enjoy refreshments, try bird science and art activities and learn about local raptor conservation efforts by the Lane County Audubon Society. Family activity stations will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.
Following the grand opening, the museum will offer a variety of related programs for bird enthusiasts, including a raptor-focused event for preschoolers and their adults on June 14 and two bird drawing workshops with scientific illustrator Kris Kirkeby, one for families on June 6 and another for adults on June 20.
—By Kristin Strommer, Museum of Natural and Cultural History