The Rachel Carson State Office Building, a 10+ story green office tower in Harrisburg that houses the DCNR, the DEP and the State Parks System, also serves as the nesting place of two peregrine falcons. These magnificent birds, known best for their ability to nosedive at over 200 mph and vicious ability to render a pigeon unidentifiable in under 5 minutes, nearly went extinct due to the widespread use of DDT as a pesticide. DDT weakened the shells of Peregrine eggs, causing them to weaken and crack. Rachel Carson, one of Pittsburgh's favorite daughters, wrote a book called 'Silent Spring,' in which she documented the damaging effects of DDT on the environment as a whole. Her book led to the banning of DDT, and the Peregrines roosting on the RCSOB are affectionately known as "Rachel's Falcons." (Watch them on "Falcon-Cam," courtesy of the DEP: http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/falcon/ )
Pittsburgh has two colonies of peregrine falcons, roosting on the Gulf Tower and the Cathedral of Learning, respectively. The Cathedral Colony (Class of 2005) seems to be doing well, feeding the young on a steady diet of gutted pigeon and small mammals. (Your nagging suspicion that Jimmy Tsangs was responsible for the mysterous disappearance of Mr. Boots may be wrong.) Pittsburgh is truly blessed with these fantastic creatures, whose restoration at the top of the avian food chain keeps the population of pigeons in check. The Falcons also evidence the strides we've made in restoring health to our regional eco-system. In an era of spin, hyperbole and denial in eco-politics (on both sides of the aisle), its always heartening to have tangible proof of success... especially when that success serves to thin the local pigeon population.