Characterization of potential release sites for peregrine falcon reintroduction

Matthew R. Dzialak, Michael J. Lacki, Kristina M. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


As part of an effort to recover the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in southeastern cliff habitats, we implemented a pre-release habitat evaluation designed to characterize cliffs in Kentucky and identify those suited as reintroduction sites. The evaluation included field and Geographic Information System (GIS) analyses of available habitat and estimation of available prey and predation risk. We evaluated 32 sites in three physiographic regions in Kentucky. Cliff habitats reflected differences in land use and physiography among regions. Features that distinguished central Kentucky sites (Bluegrass) from eastern Kentucky sites (Cumberland Plateau and Cumberland Mountains) included a greater x ± SD proportion of adjacent non-forested habitat (0.5 ± 0.01 and 0.08 ± 0.05, respectively), a better estimated prey base, and higher estimated relative abundance of great horned owls (Bubo virginianus; 0.5 and 0.0 owl detections/hr survey effort, respectively). Two natural areas, the Red River Gorge Geologic Area and the Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve, emerged well suited for the program. These sites were characterized by large cliffs, historic occurrence of peregrine falcons, adequate prey availability, and other features relevant to conservation, research, and educational considerations in raptor reintroduction such as site accessibility and public land. An implicit objective of pre-release research in wildlife reintroduction should be to establish conservation and research objectives and to generate information that can be applied in a retrospective assessment of specific factors affecting program outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-196
Number of pages9
JournalNatural Areas Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Cliff habitat
  • Falco peregrinus
  • Pre-release
  • Release site
  • Wildlife reintroduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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