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In the 1950's, scientists realized that something wrong was happening
to the falcons. They noticed that the falcons were disappearing.
For a long time, people didn't know what was going on. Finally,
someone found a nest with a few broken eggs. The nest was taken
to a veterinary clinic to be examined. There they found the cause
of the disappearances. Farmers were using a new insecticide called
DDT wasn't the only thing that played a part in this story.
The food chain also played a big part in this. When insects ate
leaves covered with DDT, they died and were then eaten by small
birds, like pigeons and sparrows. Strangely, the birds that ate
the poisoned insects died as well. It turns out that as the DDT
went through the body of the insects, it got stronger, and was
then able to kill small birds. Unfortunately, the DDT did the
same thing to small birds, as it did to bugs. The strange thing
was, when the falcons ate the poisoned birds, they didn't die.
In fact, they seemed unaffected.
The nest was the key to this mystery. The scientists figured out
that DDT caused the falcons' eggshells to be soft. So when female
falcons sat on the eggs, they broke.
Law enforcers quickly outlawed this new chemical. Recently,
falcons had to be reintroduced into the wild, since so many had
disappeared. Every time a nest was found, the person would carefully
take the eggs to an incubator. Before long, there were a few healthy
chicks in captivity. Falcons had cheated death, not to mention
Most people think that falconry is extinct. Actually, it's
alive and well! Falconry is the art of training and hunting with
falcons. There are three stages in falconry. The first stage is
the novice. A novice is like an apprentice. The next stage
is the intern. An intern is like a novice, except
an intern is more advanced in his / her training. The final stage
of falconry is called a falconer, or fouler. A person at this
stage is a professional. A fully trained fouler may even start
to train other young falconers.
(Picture used with permission from the Wisconsin