MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — For the first time, Acadia National Park this year could be home to four sites where the chicks of four pairs of peregrine falcons successfully fledge.
The chicks of peregrine falcons have successfully fledged, or flown, at three sites in the past but never four, according to officials at the park.
The falcons have nested at four sites in the past.
Nest sites this year have been confirmed on the precipice on the east face of Champlain Mountain, at Jordan Cliffs above Jordan Pond and at the Valley Cove Cliffs above Somes Sound.
A fourth nest site is unconfirmed but reports indicate that falcons are likely nesting on privately-owned Ironbound Island in Frenchman Bay. Ironbound is located in the park’s legislative area, according to a post on the park’s web site in March.
There are no nest sites this year on Beech Cliffs above Echo Lake.
During a visit to the “peregrine watch” site below the nest on the face of Champlain Mountain, park Ranger Melinda McFarland and raptor intern Patrick Kark helped visitors watch a nesting falcon via several spotting scopes from the parking low below the cliffs.
“She’s up on a ledge and you can see her tucked in the shadows,” Kark told visitors last week.
People can try to see a nesting falcon by visiting the watch site at the foot of the now-closed Precipice Trail. The watch site is guaranteed to be opened from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays to Thursdays at the park until mid-August.
Falcons usually fly about 30 miles per hour but can get up to 100 to 200 miles per hour during a “stoop,” or final burst to kill prey such as a song bird.
Peregrine falcons were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999 but are still on Maine’s list of endangered species.
Kark told visitors that the falcon’s eggs have hatched, or soon will hatch. Rangers will know some time in July whether the chicks have fledged, he added.
To keep up with the falcons, read the park service’s weekly Peregrine Watch Blog.