Peregrine falcons at Acadia National Park have successfully raised six fledglings this spring, and now that the young birds have begun flying from the nest, a park trail and section of cliff that were closed to protect the nest and chicks has reopened.
The Precipice and Beech cliff areas and the Precipice Trail were opened on Tuesday, July 28, 2009, at Acadia National Park, said Superintendent Sheridan Steele. The peregrine falcons that have occupied these nesting territories since March have successfully raised six fledglings.
The trails were closed in late March 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 fledglings have become less dependent on the cliff and their parents over the last few weeks. Research has shown that nesting falcons are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance originating immediately above the nesting area or directed at the nest site. Continued disturbances can lead to chick mortality or complete nest failure, which further slows the recovery of the species in Maine.
The closures of the trails during the nesting season has proven to be successful with nearly 100 chicks fledging from all cliffs within Acadia National Park over the last 19 years, of which approximately 60 chicks have fledged from the Precipice.
Biologists within Region 5 of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, of which Acadia National Park is located, who have been working on the recovery of the falcons in the Northeast, have been opening nesting areas on cliffs approximately five weeks after the last chick was documented to have fledged, or begin flying from the nest. This determination about opening closed areas is based on research that illustrated fledglings were less dependent on the adults or their natal cliff area at or just after five weeks of being able to fly.
Although the falcons, both adults and juveniles, are expected to stay in the vicinity of the Precipice Cliff and are likely to be observed by hikers and climbers, hiking and climbing activity is not expected to create disturbances that will harm the adults or the juveniles. The connecting East Face Trail on the eastern face of Champlain Mountain will remain closed until the earthquake damaged trail is repaired and concerns about further slides have been addressed.
Additional information about the peregrine recovery program is available on the park website and at the park’s visitor center and headquarters.