A biologist with Acadia National Park said it was “a great year” for nesting peregrine falcons at the park.
Bruce Connery said peregrine falcons raised chicks that fledged at four sites including Jordan Cliffs, the precipice on the east face of Champlain Mountain, Valley Cove cliffs above Somes Sound and privately-owned Ironbound Island in Frenchman Bay, an island where the park holds a conservation easement.
“It’s great to have that kind of recruitment into the overall Maine population,” Connery said. “We had a great year. We have to be thankful for that.”
Connery attributed the success to a spring with low amounts of rain or snow. Damp or wet springs can be a problem for the eggs of birds that nest early including falcons and eagles, he said.
It might be the first time that particular combination of four sites was home to peregrine fledglings, he added.
“It seems to vary year by year,” he said.
Connery said peregrines may also have fledged, or been able to fly, this year on Calf Island near Sorrento in northern Frenchman Bay, but that has not been confirmed. Those fledglings could be merlins, another species of falcon, he said.
Barry Gutradt, staff photographer for the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., took photos in early July of peregrine chicks on Ironbound Island.
The park on Aug. 1 announced the reopening of hiking trails in the area of the Precipice, Valley Cove and Jordan Cliffs including the Precipice Trail, the Jordan Cliffs Trail, part of the Orange & Black Path and a section of the Valley Cove Trail.
Those trails were closed in March and May to support ongoing recovery efforts for the peregrine falcon in Maine, which is listed as an Endangered Species under the Maine Endangered Species Act, the park said in a release on Aug. 1.
The closure of cliff areas and trails during the nesting season has proven to be successful with over 120 chicks fledging from all cliffs within Acadia National Park over the last 20 years, the release said.
The chicks of peregrine falcons have fledged in the past on Beech Cliffs above Echo Lake, but there were no nest sites there this year.
Peregrine falcons have made an astonishing comeback since becoming nearly extinct in the mid-1960s. The falcons were reintroduced into the Maine national park in 1984, and have been returning on their own to nest successfully from 1991 to the present, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s “A Guide’s Guide to Acadia National Park.”
Peregrine falcons nest on some of the park’s cliffs between late March and early August, and adults could still be in the park as late as December.