The Peregrine falcon, also known as the peregrine falcon and historically as the duck hawk in North America, is a cosmopolitan raptor in the Falconidae family. The peregrine falcon is well-known for its speed, reaching up to 320 km/h during its characteristic hunting stoop, making it the animal kingdom’s fastest member. But do you know how this species was saved from extinction?
Scientists invented copulation hats to mimic female mating and collect male sperm, saving the Peregrine Falcon from extinction.
The Peregrine Falcon Problem
The world’s fastest animal, the Peregrine falcon, was partly saved from extinction thanks to a specially designed hat that proved to be an innovative, unusual method of artificial insemination. It’s essentially a fuck hat.
Due to the reckless and widespread use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, in the 1950s, the number of wild Peregrine falcons had decreased dramatically. This poisonous pesticide did not kill Peregrine falcons outright but weakened their eggshells to the point where incubation was no longer viable. There were no wild peregrine falcons east of the Rocky Mountains by the 1960s and only a few to the west.
Tom Cade, a Cornell University Professor of Ornithology, is credited with being the first to recognize the possibility of a Peregrine problem. Cade didn’t know the birds were in danger until he spoke with other experts at a 1968 conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Cade and about a half dozen other men founded The Peregrine Fund in 1970 to counteract the devastation that a potential species loss would have caused.
Of course, too few Peregrine falcons were left to rely on natural reproduction.
A handful of falconers repopulating two or three birds a year was never going to replenish the population.Mike Garets, The Peregrine Fund
Instead, The Peregrine Fund had to employ several methods of artificial insemination to ensure the species’ successful and rapid recovery.
Everyone wants to know the magic formula for success—how to get all eggs fertile, all eggs hatched, and all chicks raised, There is no magic formula, but success is proportional to the intensity of interest, the personal involvement, and the amount of hard work that go into a breeding effort.Tom Cade and James Weaver, Falcon Propagation: A Manual on Captive Breeding
(Source: The Awl)
Saving the Peregrine, One Hat at a Time
The copulation hat is the artificial insemination method for Peregrine falcons.
Lester Boyd, a falconer from Pullman, Washington, invented the copulation hat in response to the potential extinction crisis of the 1960s. The Peregrine Fund quickly adopted the fuck hat method, which was included in Cade and Weaver’s official propagation manual.
To the untrained eye, the hats look like rubber turbans or pith helmets. During copulation, a donut rings the head where the male falcons, or tiercels, perch. The semen receptacle is a non-toxic, honeycomb-patterned silicone catacomb structure on top. The fuck hat is available in various colors, including safety yellow, and costs around $300.
We call it the semen hat. I bring it with me whenever I do falcon education events for the public. I would say about 98% of people don’t know what the hat is used for. It’s an always interesting conversation.Brad Wood, a falconer from Olympia, Washington, and the former owner of Northwood Falconry, America’s Foremost Falconry Outfitter Since 1984.
A falcon will not fuck any old hat. First, the birds must be romanced a little. They must be courted. A falconer must be consistent with achieving this. According to the propagation manual, the hat should be worn at all times so the bird learns to accept it as part of your normal appearance.
As strange as it may sound, it worked. This ridiculous process repeated thousands of times over the next three decades, saved the Peregrine falcons from extinction. (Source: The Awl)