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Byline: Lawrence Spohn TRIBUNE REPORTER
New Mexico falconers are celebrating life on the wing.
For Tom Smylie, "the skies would have been empty" without peregrine falcons, which faced extinction in 1970 but today are thriving in almost every conceivable high place in the nation.
"It's a worthy species," Smylie said Tuesday at the Rio Grande Nature Center where he exhibited his male peregrine, Dundee.
The hooded bird was an instant media star, cocking its head at chirping songbirds nearby; stretching his wings and ruffling his feathers; and flexing his inch-long talons as he parted his curved beak.
With Tuesday's announcement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to delist Dundee and other peregrines as an endangered species, falconers from New Mexico to New York celebrated one of wildlife management's biggest success stories.
"Every American should be proud," said Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt in announcing the action, …