The Field Museum’s Chicago Peregrine Program oversees Illinois' Peregrine Falcon population. With nest site monitoring, scientific research, and public education, the program works to better understand these amazing creatures and help them thrive throughout Chicago and the greater Midwest.
An estimated 400–500 pairs of Peregrines once nested in the midwestern and eastern United States. But, by the 1960s, the species had been wiped out regionally and few were seen during migration. The buildup of organochlorines—DDT and its byproducts—was the primary cause of the bird's disappearance. These accumulated chemicals caused abnormal reproductive behavior in adults, the death of embryos, and thinning shells that led to egg breakage.
In 1972, the US government banned the use of DDT and placed the Peregrine Falcon on the federal endangered species list a year later. Through a process called hacking, Peregrines began to return to the wild. From 1986 to 1990, the Chicago Peregrine Program released 46 Peregrines at four different hack sites. With reintroductions throughout the Midwest, we hoped that some birds would return to Illinois to breed. When population levels finally began to rise, the focus of Peregrine programs shifted from releasing birds to monitoring nesting pairs.
Peregrine populations have since continued to grow and thrive. What began with a single breeding pair in Chicago in 1988 has grown to 20 breeding pairs in more than 30 territories. The US government removed Peregrine Falcons from the federal endangered species list in 1999; Illinois removed the bird from its list in 2014.
Explore nests and nesting status
Watch the progress of nesting Peregrine Falcons through live-streaming webcams. Thanks to the generous support of our site hosts who fund and maintain their web cameras, we're able to peer into the nests of a few peregrine families in Illinois:
- Evanston, sponsored by the Evanston Public Library
- Rockford, sponsored by the Sinnissippi Audubon Society
- University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC), sponsored by UIC
Illinois Peregrine webcams are typically active April–July.
Browse this map to locate Peregrines Falcons and see their current nesting status. Information contained within the map is property of the Chicago Peregrine Program.
| Color | Status | | Blue | Breeding | | Red | Pair ? on breeding | | Green | Single Bird or wintering location only | | Yellow | Inactive |