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Monday, August 04, 2008

Birding Acadia National Park 3

Don looking up at Champlain Mt. for the Peregrine Falcons

Peregrine in flight, taken last time we visited here in 2006

Photo from a sign showing this year's Peregrine chicks

Photo of sign, showing this year's nest location

When we were in Acadia National Park we stopped at the Precipice trailhead which goes up the 1,058 ft. Champlain Mt. The trail was closed at this time due to nesting Peregrine Falcons. The Peregrine's have been nesting there each spring since 1991. Historically, Peregrines once nested on the east face of Cadillac Mt. By 1964 Peregrines had become extinct in the eastern U.S. due to the harmful effects of the pesticide DDT on their eggs. Beginning in the 1970's, there was a coordinated effort to bring back the Peregrine and they were re-introduced into Acadia National Park. 23 birds were released near Jordan Pond in Acadia between 1984 and 1986. One of them, a banded bird, returned to Acadia in 1988 and between 1991 and 1998 he and his mate reared 26 offspring on these cliffs.

Other Peregrines have nested here since, and this year's pair nested on one of the Peregrines previous sites (see black circle in photo from the sign). In April they laid eggs and the young were flying by mid-June. We did not see the young near the mountain, but we learned they might be seen anywhere around the island. They had recently been seen near Bar Harbor catching Black Guillemots, grackles and goldfinches. Peregrines catch other birds in mid-air and can dive reaching speeds of over 100 m.p.h.

Peregrine Falcons are not on the federal endangered list anymore, although they are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In Maine, however, they are still considered endangered. That's why the park closes off their nesting site area from March to August. Nice to know that the Peregrines are thriving here in Acadia National Park.

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