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Big Birds, Big City

The sky above New York City is busy with airplanes and helicopters. And since 1983, there has also been another kind of flying object above the city: peregrine falcons.

These birds, once almost wiped out, are returning to the skies of the United States. Some are in New York City. Bald eagles have also moved into the neighborhood.

Death by DDT

Peregrine falcons are the fastest creatures in the air. They can fly up to 200 miles per hour.

Nearly all these birds died out in the 1960s because of a chemical called DDT. A chemical is something made by scientists to help people, but sometimes these same chemicals can harm animals and people. DDT was made to kill insects that destroy food crops. People later found out that DDT could also harm birds, other animals, and people.

DDT made the eggshells of peregrines and other birds too thin. The shells broke before the baby falcons were ready to hatch. Just 10 years after DDT was made, there were only 39 known pairs of peregrine falcons across the United States.

The Government Steps In

The U.S. government—the people who make laws in the United States—decided to help the country's animals and environment. The environment is Earth's air, water, and nature. In 1972, the government made a law saying that people could not sell or use DDT. A year later, the government passed a law that protected many animals that were in danger of dying out, including peregrine falcons.

There are now about 2,000 pairs of falcons across the nation.

Eagle Eye

Three hundred years ago, there were many bald eagles in New York. But egg collectors and chemicals almost destroyed all the bald eagles in the United States.

In 2002, scientists started bringing baby eagles to New York City. They built tree homes for the birds. They wanted to help them live and grow.

If you live in New York City or visit there, look up. You may see wonderful, unusual birds flying in the city's skies!