Don’t let the blackflies kill you like they did this falcon

As we eagerly await blackflies you may enjoy this story of a young falcon that was killed by blackflies in Minnesota. This Associated Press story was published in the Bangor Daily News on June 19, 1986. For some reason I kept this. Here it is.

Blackflies Kill Young Falcon

Wabasha, Minnesota – a young Peregrine Falcon under observation by ecologists trying to reintroduce the endangered species to Minnesota was attacked and killed by blackflies last week, researchers said.
“If someone had told me that would happen, I’d have said ‘Yeah, once in 1 million years,” said Dr. Pat Redig, director of the University of Minnesota’s raptor research and rehabilitation program.

Redig, coordinator of the upper Midwest Peregrine reintroduction program, said the still flightless falcon was besieged by blackflies while it was healthy and alive.

“Essentially it was drained of blood,” said Bud Tordof, curator of the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis.

Tordof said the month-old bird died June 12 a few hours after it was attacked. The bird was in a specially designed box in the Weaver Dunes wilderness 10 miles south of Wabasha in southeastern Minnesota, Tordof said.

Two other month-old Peregrine Falcons at the same site lived through the blackfly siege but were removed for their safety. The wooden boxes containing the falcons had large-mesh screen on one side to confine them until they are ready to fly.

Month old Peregrine Falcons are around 10 inches long and weigh about 24 ounces. An adult Peregrine weighs about 31 ounces.

Tordof, a professor of ecology at the University of Minnesota, said there is an abnormally high number of blackflies in southeastern Minnesota this year, probably because spring rainfall has been heavy.

My Conclusion

I’m sure you got that last sentence: heavy rainfall produces lots of blackflies. Get ready!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.