Tag Archives: peregrine-falcons

Peregrine falcon chicks at Valley Cove; Precipice damaged

At least three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched at Valley Cove in Acadia National Park this year, but a nest was unsuccessful at the Precipice and a third site at Jordan Cliffs may also have failed, according to the park’s wildlife biologist.

peregrine falcon chick

Park wildlife biologist, Bruce Connery, holds a peregrine falcon chick that has just been lowered from its scrape, or nest, for banding. (NPS photo)

Based on a recent observation, Bruce Connery, wildlife biologist at Acadia, said in an email that he believes at least three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched at Valley Cove, and are set to fledge in about three weeks. There could also be perhaps more chicks at Valley Cove, he added.

“It is true the Precipice territory adults failed in their nesting attempt, and we believe Jordan Cliff may have failed as well,” Connery wrote in an email. “However we will be doing additional observation surveys this week to confirm whether the territorial adults are still present, have a nest or are attempting to nest.”

“At Valley Cove, we had thought there were at least two chicks, but based on the observations I did this morning, I believe there were at least three chicks…about 14 days old,” Connery wrote in an email on Saturday.

acadia national park

Even if no peregrine falcon chicks have been spotted along the Precipice Trail this spring, the popular cliff climb will be closed indefinitely because of damage to this footbridge this winter, according to Acadia National Park’s Facebook page. (NPS photo)

It is unclear when the park will reopen hiking trails that are closed annually to help protect the nesting falcons and chicks. The park usually waits for the falcon chicks to fly for four to five weeks before reopening the trails, usually by early August.

Falcon chicks usually don’t fly for the first time until late June or July 1.

The Precipice Trail will remain closed because of a broken bridge and handrail, Connery wrote. It will take at least two weeks to get materials, haul them to the site and then construct the new bridge.

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Celebrating Acadia birds amid Year of the Bird, climate woes

Since the late 1990s, enthusiastic birders have been flocking to Mount Desert Island every year, to celebrate the diversity of songbirds, seabirds and raptors found in Acadia National Park and surrounding areas.

acadia birds

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Acadia Birding Festival (Image courtesy of Acadia Birding Festival)

Now, as the Acadia Birding Festival marks its 20th anniversary from May 31 to June 3, the gathering comes at a time of urgency, as a new Audubon and National Park Service study  identifies as many as 66 species of Acadia birds that could become locally extinct by the year 2050, if nothing is done to reduce the impacts of climate change.

This year has been declared the Year of the Bird, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that protects birds, and sound the alarm about climate change’s potential impact and other environmental threats, with the hope of preventing species from becoming modern-day equivalents of the canary in a coal mine.

acadia birds

The Bald Eagle and 11 other bird species could become locally extinct in winter in Acadia, according to a new study. (NPS photo)

In an interview, Becky Marvil, executive director of the Acadia Birding Festival, said it is disheartening to see the findings of studies such as the effects of climate change on birds in U.S. National Parks. As more and more data are released, it appears the consequences of climate change could be more damaging to birds than anyone imagined, she said.

“It’s very sad,” she said. “A lot of birders have been aware of this for quite some time.”

Marvil said the Year of the Bird is important because it brings awareness to birds and the importance of habitat, conservation, and the environment.

“It’s a year of thinking of all the things that affect birds,” agreed Michael J. Good, a Registered Maine Guide and owner of Down East Nature Tours, and founder of the Acadia Birding Festival. And that means not only addressing climate change and conservation of habitat, but also cleaning up plastic, which seabirds can mistake for food, leading to death, he said in an interview.

Among the Acadia birds expected to be celebrated at the birding festival, according to festival trip descriptions, but also at risk of becoming locally extinct (extirpated) in summer or winter by 2050 if no steps are taken to address climate change, according to climate change researchers: Bald Eagle; Yellow-bellied Flycatcher; Pileated Woodpecker; Common Raven; and Common Loon.

acadia birds

The Common Loon is one of 66 species of Acadia birds identified as at risk of becoming locally extinct in summer or winter by the year 2050 if nothing is done to address climate change, according to a new study on the potential impact of climate change on birds in national parks. (NPS photo)

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“Hiking Acadia” gold medalist in international book awards

ask acadia on my mind

A view from Bubble Rock

Introducing “A view from Bubble Rock,” a periodic collection of news briefs about Acadia National Park and related topics. If you have news you’d like included as part of the series, leave a comment below, or contact us through the About us page.

“Hiking Acadia National Park” received top honors in the Independent Publisher Book Awards travel guide category, joining winners from 43 US states, 6 Canadian provinces and 11 overseas nations, in the 22nd year of the “IPPY Awards.”

gifts of acadia

“Hiking Acadia National Park” also won the National Outdoor Book Award in the outdoor adventure guide category.

“Two words can describe this year’s IPPY medal-winning books – compassion and action,” said Jim Barnes, director of the awards, in making the announcement this week. “In both the compelling storytelling of the fiction and the solution-based information of the non-fiction, independent publishing is all about passion for people and their causes, and dedication to sharing their stories with a world of readers.”

Our book, published by FalconGuides, also won the National Outdoor Book Award in the outdoor adventure guidebook category. A digital copy of “Hiking Acadia National Park,” 3rd edition, was included in the Acadia Bicentennial Time Capsule, and we’ve donated copies to the Southwest Harbor Historical Society and public libraries in Somesville, Southwest Harbor, Ellsworth, Blue Hill and Bangor, as part of our Acadia Centennial Partner commitment. (PLEASE NOTE: See sidebar about Amazon.com links)

IPPY

“Hiking Acadia National Park” won the gold medal in the travel guidebook category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as the “IPPY.” (Image courtesy of Independent Publisher Book Awards)

We’re honored to be in the company of such other IPPY Award winners as QT Luong, whose large-format photographs of national parks were featured in the Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” and whose book, “Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks,” won the IPPY gold medal in the coffee table book category in 2017. (PLEASE NOTE: See sidebar about Amazon.com links)

“Hiking Acadia National Park” is available for sale at Sherman’s bookstore in Bar Harbor; at Acadia National Park’s Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Village Green Information Center and Sieur de Monts Nature Center; and on Amazon.com. You can also buy autographed copies directly from our online shop, with a percentage of proceeds to benefit Friends of Acadia. Continue reading

Spring in Acadia: Mud time closes carriage roads, aid blooms

In an early sign of spring in Acadia National Park, officials closed the carriage roads on Friday for mud season, and fundraisers to benefit the park are popping up like snowdrops.

Before you know it, the peregrine falcons will be returning to nest, usually closing the Precipice Trail and other cliff climbs by late March; the Cadillac Summit Road and Hulls Cove Visitor Center will be opening in mid-April; and the rhodora will be ablaze.

acadia carriage roads

Mud season has closed Acadia’s carriage roads until further notice.

But perhaps unlike other recent springtimes in Acadia, the park seems to face more challenges than typical in getting ready for the busy season.

This winter’s unusual freeze-thaw damage to Sieur de Monts’s Nature Center and Wild Gardens of Acadia – which were alternatively encased in ice, then flooded – is still being assessed. The Trump administration has proposed a 7 percent cut in the National Park Service’s overall fiscal 2019 budget. Record-setting visitation reached 3.5 million in Acadia last year, while the park’s deferred maintenance backlog is at $59 million as of the end of fiscal 2017.

While fundraisers to benefit the park don’t replace the need for adequate federal funding, every little bit helps. And in the spirit of renewal that spring in Acadia represents, here are some ways to help raise funds via the park’s main nonprofit partner, Friends of Acadia, and otherwise do your part to give back to the park that gives so much to so many, in all seasons:

virtual race with medals

If you join the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run between now and March 9, we’ll double the percentage of registration fees going to benefit Friends of Acadia, as part of the charity’s Spring E-Challenge. (Image courtesy of Friends of Acadia)

  • Make a special donation to the Friends of Acadia between now and March 9 during its 2018 Spring E-Challenge, to help secure up to $15,000 in matching funds, offered by a small group of park supporters. Last year, the charity featured a spring membership challenge that resulted in 127 donors, including 20 new members.
  • Join the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, which we’re co-sponsoring with Crow Athletics, Mount Desert Island Marathon and Millinocket Marathon & Half, between now and March 9, and we will double the percentage of registration fees that will go to the Friends of Acadia, as part of our contribution to the nonprofit’s Spring E-Challenge. We’re announcing today that the race is being extended to June 30, thanks to racery.com, to give participants more time to log their miles anywhere in the world, and watch their race avatar move along the 200-mile virtual route from Cadillac to Katahdin. Not only will you help raise funds for Friends of Acadia and other nonprofits, you’ll also get a special medal in the shape of Maine, featuring a raised lobster claw and pine tree, and a buffalo-plaid ribbon. Read more about the race here. Register now.
  • Sign up for the Friends of Acadia’s annual Earth Day roadside clean-up, happening on the last Saturday of every April (April 28 this year), or any of the charity’s other events throughout the year.
    virtual race

    Announce your participation in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run by sharing this graphic. Register now, race ends June 30. (Image by racery.com)

    virtual races with medals

    This is the buffalo-plaid-beribboned Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion you can earn for signing up for the virtual race to help benefit Friends of Acadia and other charities.

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Grand loop up Sargent tops hikes in Acadia National Park

One in a series about Acadia National Park hiking trails

A terrific aspect of hikes in Acadia National Park is that people can almost always get back to the start without retracing steps.

hikes in acadia national park

Brilliant foliage frames Jordan Pond, as seen from the Jordan Cliffs Trail, part of a grand loop up Sargent Mountain that is best done in late summer and fall.

Acadia’s tight, carefully designed network of 150 miles of trails allow hikers to create a  nearly countless number of loop trips.

There are many circular hikes in Acadia National Park, but perhaps none more spectacular than the “grand loop” from Jordan Cliffs to Sargent Mountain, the park’s second highest peak behind Cadillac, and then up Penobscot Mountain, the fifth highest summit, back to the Jordan Pond parking lot with a stop at lovely Sargent Mountain Pond along the way.

This 5-mile loop capped another banner hiking season for us in Acadia.

We walked it on a warm sunny day in October with the park displaying some astonishing autumn yellow, red and orange. Unlike the often-hectic summer, when parking is tight, we quickly found a space at the lot outside the Jordan Pond House, the park’s only restaurant.

The loop begins and ends near the southern end of Jordan Pond and launches from the historic 1.3-mile Spring Trail, which fully opened around 1917 after being built by Thomas McIntire, who used to own and operate the Jordan Pond House. The early hiking-book author, Benjamin F. DeCosta, described part of the Spring Trail in 1871 when he walked from Sargent Mountain to Jordan Pond, according to “Pathmakers,” a National Park Service book.

hikes in acadia national park

Sargent East Cliffs Trail aflame with the red of blueberry bushes in fall, on the loop up from Jordan Cliffs to the second highest peak in Acadia.

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Five peregrine falcon chicks fly at Acadia, but one nest fails

UPDATE 8/01/2017: Park today announces that trails associated with the Precipice, Jordan Cliffs and Valley Cove will reopen on Thursday, Aug. 3, after five peregrine falcon chicks fledged this year — down from 11 in 2016. Trails were closed on March 17.

Five peregrine falcon checks have fledged at nests at two sites in Acadia National Park this year, but for unknown reasons a nest failed at a third site that has yielded chicks in recent years, a biologist at the park said Friday.

peregrine falcon chick

Acadia National Park wildlife biologist Bruce Connery holds a peregrine chick that has just been lowered from its scrape, or nest, for banding. (NPS photo)

Bruce Connery, wildlife biologist at Acadia, said there was a pair of adult falcons at Jordan Cliffs and it is believed they started a nest but then one of the adults disappeared around the middle of June, and the nest failed. Connery said he does not know why the nest at the Jordan Cliffs failed but he said it was not related to the chicks or the nesting.

“My guess would be that one of the adults either left or was killed by a predator like a great horned owl,” Connery said.

On the positive side, the peregrine falcon chicks at the Precipice and Valley Cove have been flying since about July 1, and seemed alert and healthy when they were spotted by researchers, he said. At least one chick at each of the two sites was flying before the others, he said. “They are all flying now and they are doing great,” he said.

Three peregrine falcon chicks fledged at the Precipice and two at Valley Cove, he said.

The park usually waits for the peregrine falcon chicks to fly for five weeks before reopening trails, including the wildly popular Precipice Trail, that are closed in the early spring each year to protect the nesting falcons and chicks. The trails opened July 29 last year and usually open by early August each year.

peregrine falcon chicks

Peregrine falcon chick being banded in Acadia National Park this year. (Photo courtesy of Erin Wheat)

Connery said the nest failure at the Jordan Cliffs was disappointing because the birds were there and everything seemed to be going along pretty well.

“It would be more understandable if we knew what caused it to fail,” he said, such as the male being attracted to another place.

“We just know we started seeing only one adult …. There was no real rhyme or reason to why it happened.”

Male and female adult peregrines both play vital roles in nesting. Females usually lay eggs in early spring and females incubate the eggs while males hunt and bring food to their mates, according to the web site of the Chesapeake Bay Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Researchers at Acadia don’t know if it was the male or female adult peregrine that disappeared because the feathers of both sexes are mostly similar, but Connery said he would guess that it was the male that left or was killed.

Connery said he was pretty positive it was a “natural event” that caused the nest to fail. He said there is no evidence that human interference was a factor in the nest failure.

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If not for Earth Day, imagine a silent spring in Acadia

As millions around the world mark Earth Day, imagine what Acadia National Park would be like without the banning of DDT, the Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts, or any of the other changes since that first massive showing of environmental activism in 1970:

peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon chicks, like this one being banded on the Precipice of Champlain Mountain, would not be taking flight in Acadia, if not for the banning of DDT and the passage of the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s. (NPS Photo / Erickson Smith)

  • – No peregrine falcons nesting on the Precipice of Champlain
  • – Hazy views atop Cadillac
  • – Declining loon populations
  • – Acidified ponds that can’t support certain aquatic life
  • A silent spring in Acadia, with no birdsong

On this Earth Day and beyond, whether you’re marching for science in Washington on April 22 or for climate change action in Bar Harbor on April 29, or you’re volunteering for the Friends of Acadia’s annual roadside clean-up later this month, just imagine what a silent spring in Acadia would be like.

clean air act

Acadia webcam images show the impact of air pollution on the views. The Clean Air Act has helped improve visibility. (NPS Photo)

And imagine, too, what rising sea levels could mean to Acadia, as climate change worries join the ranks of environmental concerns like pesticides, mercury contamination, acid rain and acid fog, and air pollution.

As our way of marking Earth Day, of science’s contribution to protecting the environment of Acadia for people, plants and wildlife, and of the challenges like climate change still to be faced, we gather here some resources to remind us of how far we have come, and how much further we have to go.

May this listing, although not exhaustive, help spur reflection, respect, and action, in honor of Earth Day and Acadia. Continue reading

Jordan Pond a special fall experience at Acadia National Park

One in a series of historic trail highlights celebrating the Acadia Centennial

The path around Jordan Pond is an ideal hike for any time of year but it is especially beautiful in the fall.

acadia national park hiking

Fall colors light up the shore of Jordan Pond and the Bubbles.

The fall colors around Jordan Pond are spectacular if you catch them at peak, as we did on Saturday, Oct. 15.

We especially enjoyed the classic view of the North and South Bubbles, looking north from the southern shore near the Jordan Pond House, the only restaurant in Acadia National Park.

The pond is crystal clear, maybe because it is a public water supply and no swimming is allowed. The authoritative ” Guide’s Guide to Acadia National Park” says Jordan Pond is the “clearest lake” in Maine, but that could be difficult to corroborate.

The twin mountains called the Bubbles rise from the shore of the pond. North Bubble, at 872 feet, is ranked No. 13 for highest among Acadia National Park’s 26 peaks and South Bubble, at 766 feet and home to the iconic Bubble Rock, is No. 16.

acadia national park hiking

South Bubble bears a bit of a resemblance to The Beehive from this angle on the eastern shore of Jordan Pond. Both were shaped by the same glacial forces.

Like other lakes in Acadia, Jordan Pond is glacial, formed in a valley and then walled by debris.

The  “Guide’s Guide” says the Jordan Pond area contains a beautiful collection of glacial features. The massive valley between Penobscot Mountain, on the west side, and Pemetic Mountain, on the east side, filled with water to create the pond.

“The southern shore, where the Jordan Pond House sits, is a glacial moraine formed from glacial debris deposits,” the guide says. “These deposits form a wall at the southern end of the valley and create a natural dam that holds back the waters of Jordan Pond.” Continue reading

The peregrine falcon has “great” year in Acadia, 11 chicks fly

UPDATE 7/29/2016: Park today announces reopening of Precipice, Jordan Cliffs and parts of Valley Cove Trails, and closure of 1-mile section of Valley Cove Trail between Flying Mountain and Man o’ War Brook because of deteriorating trail conditions.

A biologist at Acadia National Park said several popular hiking trails at Acadia National Park should open by early next week, following “a great” year for the peregrine falcon at the park.

Peregrine falcon chick

A peregrine falcon chick is held for banding in the spring (Photo by Keith Wozniak/Acadia National Park)

Bruce Connery, wildlife biologist at Acadia, said 11 peregrine falcon chicks fledged, or took their first flight, at the park’s three main nesting sites this year. That’s up from 7 for each of the prior two years at those sites.

He said the peregrine falcon nests at the Precipice on the east face of Champlain Mountain and Jordan Cliffs each produced four fledged falcons and the nest at Valley Cove, three.

“It is great,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “We usually have good success at one site, sometimes two. It is a rare to have that kind of success at three sites.”

He said there was also a chick of the peregrine falcon at Ironbound Island this year with a photo taken by the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. The park holds a conservation easement on Ironbound, a privately owned island in Frenchman Bay.

Sign for closing Orange & Black Path for the peregrine falcon

This trail closure sign on the Orange & Black Path, shown in early July, will soon be coming down.

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 falcon chicks, should all open maybe this weekend or by early next week, he said. The trails usually do open in early August every year.

The park has not officially announced the date for reopening the trails and trail crews still need to approve some trail sections for safety reasons for hikers, he said. The park announced the trail closures in March. Continue reading

Endangered falcons take the stage at Acadia National Park

Endangered falcons gave birth to 11 chicks this year at Acadia National Park and now are putting on a show for hundreds of visitors to the park.

endangered falcons

Park Ranger Andrew Wolfgang shows visitors the location of the endangered falcons and their nest during peregrine watch in Acadia National Park.

On Saturday alone, about 160 people stopped to catch the action of  the state-listed endangered falcons  at a “peregrine watch” site in the Precipice Trail parking area below a nest high on the east face of Champlain Mountain.

“We got a bird up,” said Park Ranger Andrew Wolfgang, pointing to the cliffs when one of the endangered falcons flew back to the nest after a brief absence. “It’s a really nice look at an adult in this scope right now.”

Wolfgang and Samuel Ruano, a peregrine falcon interpretive guide and raptor intern, supervised the use of two spotting scopes that allow visitors some excellent views of the peregrine falcons. Wolfgang and Ruano also spoke frequently to visitors about the history of the peregrines in the park and the need to temporarily close popular hiking trails to give the nestlings time to mature.

With the scopes, visitors could clearly see a peregrine falcon perched upright on the cliff face outside the nest or even the nestlings themselves.

“Amazing,” said Keith Spencer, a grade 7 English teacher in the public schools of Everett, MA, after he looked through the scope and saw a falcon. Continue reading

Look, up on the Precipice of Acadia – peregrine falcons!

UPDATE 8/6/15: The Precipice, Jordan Cliffs and Valley Cove Trails opened today, according to the official park news release.

While we wait for the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park to reopen any day now, and as a follow-up to our blog post on the 7 peregrine falcon chicks that fledged this year, here are some never-before publicized photos of peregrine falcons, taken by Erickson Smith, biological science technician with the park.

peregrine falcon

One of the female peregrine falcon chicks banded this year in Acadia National Park, on the Precipice of Champlain Mountain. Looks cute and fluffy now, but once mature will dive after prey at more than 100 miles per hour. (NPS Photo / Erickson Smith)

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Peregrine falcons cap great year at Acadia National Park

A biologist with Acadia National Park said it was “a great year” for nesting peregrine falcons at the park.

peregrine falcon chick

Park wildlife biologist, Bruce Connery, holds a peregrine chick that has just been lowered from its scrape, or nest, for banding. Acadia National Park photo and caption.

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. Continue reading