UPDATE 8/6/15: Precipice, Jordan Cliffs and Valley Cove Trails reopened.
UPDATE 7/31/15: Statistics provided by the park state that in 2014, there were 9 peregrine falcon chicks hatched at Acadia including 1 chick at Jordan Cliffs, 2 at Ironbound Island, 4 at the Precipice and 2 at Valley Cove.
A biologist at Acadia National Park said he is pleased that 7 peregrine falcon chicks fledged at the park this year and that popular hiking trails in the nesting areas should reopen around the first week of August.
Park wildlife biologist, Bruce Connery, holds a peregrine chick that was lowered from its scrape, or nest, for banding, in this file photo. (NPS photo)
Bruce Connery, wildlife biologist at Acadia, said the Precipice on the east face of Champlain Mountain is now home to three fledged peregrine falcon chicks; the Jordan Cliffs, two; and Valley Cove cliffs above Somes Sound, also two.
The Precipice Trail, the Jordan Cliffs Trail, part of the Orange & Black Path and the Valley Cove Trail, which were closed early this spring to protect the peregrine falcon chicks, should all open in early August as is usual each year following the falcon nesting season, he said.
The park has not officially announced the date for reopening the trails and still needs to check some trail sections for safety reasons for hikers, he said.
“We are still watching chicks,” he added. “They are getting to be pretty good fliers but they still have a ways to go. They still all come back to the cliff every night. They are dependent on it. They seem to still be pretty much in a group dynamic. They go off for a little bit, but an hour later they will be back perched within 20 to 50 feet from each other. That cliff is still important to them.”
Peregrine falcon on the cliffs of Champlain Mountain this spring, with the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park closed until early August. (NPS photo from Acadia National Park Facebook page)
He said the number of fledged chicks is around average for the park.
“It is right in the middle,” he said. “It’s pretty much what we should hope for and expect.”
Unlike last year, Connery said, no peregrine falcon chicks were likely born this year on Ironbound Island, which is located in the park’s legislative area and is protected with a park conservation easement.
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “Some people said they saw them but we never saw them. We were only out four times. If you pick the wrong day, you could be off. I don’t know. It seems odd we would not have seen them if they had chicks but it is possible.”
Also, there were no peregrine falcon chicks on the Beech Cliffs above Echo Lake, a fifth location where falcons have nested in the past.
According to Erickson Smith, biological science technician at the park, there were 9 peregrine falcon chicks hatched at Acadia in 2014 including 1 chick at Jordan Cliffs, 2 at Ironbound Island, 4 at the Precipice and 2 at Valley Cove.