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Return of the Peregrine

  • Branford Community House 46 Church St Branford, CT 06405 United States (map)

Prior to World War II, the Peregrine Falcon was a rare breeder in Connecticut and was uncommon to rare throughout the year.  By the mid-1960s as a direct result of the widespread agricultural use of the organochlorine biocide DDT, peregrines were extirpated as breeding birds east of the Rocky Mountains.  Three events since then have led to the reestablishment of this species throughout the eastern United States:  the banning of the sale of DDT in the U. S. in 1972; the listing of the Peregrine Falcon on the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973; the reintroduction of captive peregrines to the East in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  The highly successful recovery program has resulted in the removal of the peregrine from the U.S. ESA in 1999, and the species now is considered threatened on Connecticut’s list of endangered species.

Steve discusses the five known nest sites of peregrines in Connecticut during the period 1850-1948.  He then summarizes his ongoing studies of the peregrines that have been nesting at West Rock Ridge State Park in Woodbridge since his discovery of a pair of falcons there in 1999.  Peregrine life history strategies are the focus of these studies:  territoriality, behavior, vocalizations, foraging, mating, nest site selection and preparation, egg-laying, care of nestlings, nest success, and the changing local population of adults.  In the 2000 breeding season, the West Rock peregrines produced the first egg to be laid on a Connecticut cliff in 60 years. 

Steve Broker worked in science education in Connecticut for 45 years.  He taught high school physical and life sciences in the New Haven Public Schools for 23 years.  His university teaching as adjunct lecturer has included courses in ecology and forest & wetland ecology (University of New Haven, Master of Environmental Studies Program), biology (Quinnipiac University, Department of Biological Sciences), and teaching of science (Yale Teacher Preparation Program). 

Between two periods as a high school teacher, he served for five years as Associate Director of Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies Program and for three years as Director of Programs at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.  He is a graduate of Wesleyan University (B.A., 1969, M.A.T., 1972) and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (M.F.S., 1983). 

Steve is a past-president of the New Haven Bird Club. He served as secretary of the Connecticut Ornithological Association for 10 years, vice-president for two years, and was COA president during 2017-2019. He has been the statewide compiler of the Connecticut Christmas Bird Count for 33 years and writes the yearly review article on the CBC for publication in the state journal of ornithology, The Connecticut Warbler. He has participated in the New Haven Christmas Bird Count each year since 1984, the New Haven Summer Bird Count since 1991, and most years of the Salmon River Christmas Bird Count since the mid-1980s.

His field studies focus on breeding Peregrine Falcons and Common Ravens at West Rock (Woodbridge), marsh birds on Outer Cape Cod, and participation in recent and past breeding bird atlases in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He currently is regional coordinator for Greater New Haven for the Connecticut Bird Atlas (2017-2021). Steve resides in Cheshire, CT and Wellfleet, MA with his wife, Linda Broker.

Earlier Event: January 22
Conserving Coastal Wildlife