Throughout breeding season, peregrine falcons get first dibs on climbing cliffs

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Published: 04/08/2022 17:23:19

Modified: 04/08/2022 17:22:18

The ongoing return of peregrine falcons to New England has prompted New Hampshire and Vermont to close some climbing and migratory areas where the birds like to nest.

The US Forest Service has closed the main bluff at Rumney Rocks in Rumney, one of the area’s most popular climbing areas, until the birds raised chicks in several nests. Main Cliff is the highest climbing route and one of the most popular in Rumney.

Peregrine falcons often build nests on ledges, giving them good threat visibility and allowing them to depart and return easily. They have transferred this habit to human structures, building nests on buildings, transmission towers, and church towers. One example is the nest that has been occupied for years atop an office tower at 1750 Elm St. in Manchester, from which Audubon streams footage of egg laying and chick rearing from New Hampshire.

In Vermont, the presence of nesting hawks has caused the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to monitor or close half a dozen hiking trails and climbing routes through Aug. 1.

“Peregrine falcons are very sensitive to human presence during their breeding season, so we ask climbers and hikers to please keep a respectful distance from all nests,” Vermont wildlife biologist Doug Morin said in a press release. “Closed areas include the parts of the cliffs where the birds nest and the trails that lead to cliffs or lookout points.”

Additional locations may be added to the closed list at www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Similarly, several hiking trails have been closed in Acadia National Park in Maine.

Peregrine falcons are one of many bird species, including the bald eagle, that have been pushed to the brink of extinction due to widespread use of the pesticide DDT.

In 1975, the peregrine falcon population in North America reached an all-time low of 324 breeding pairs. Since then, the population has recovered greatly thanks to the ban on DDT and breeding programs. The species was removed from the nation’s critically endangered list in 1999.