A footbridge along a cliff face on the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park was badly damaged over the winter, possibly by a falling boulder. A replacement is to be built soon. PHOTO COURTESY OF ANP

Falcons hatch, nests fail, bridge destroyed



ACADIA NAT’L PARK — At least three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched this spring at Valley Cove, but the adult pair that frequently builds a nest at the Precipice was unsuccessful this year, and that might also be the case at Jordan Cliffs, according to Bruce Connery, the park’s wildlife biologist.

“We will be doing additional observation surveys this week to confirm whether the territorial adults are still present [at Jordan Cliffs], have a nest or are attempting to nest,” Connery said.

After observing the Valley Cove nesting site on Saturday, he said there appeared to be a least three chicks about 2-weeks-old. Chicks usually start flying in late June.

Typically, hiking trails in the area of the three nesting sites are closed from mid-March until late July to keep the falcons from being disturbed during the nesting and fledging period. A small section of the Orange & Black path also has been closed this spring because falcons were seen engaging in “courtship and pre-nesting behavior.”

Park officials said they aren’t sure when any of the trails will reopen this year. A relatively new footbridge along a cliff face on the Precipice Trail was badly damaged over the winter, possibly by a falling boulder. So, that trail can’t be opened until a new bridge is built.

The Valley Cove Trail has been closed for two years for major repairs, and it is likely to remain closed even after the falcon chicks there have fledged.

Mickey Shortt Jr., Acadia’s ornithology ranger, said the park’s effort to reintroduce peregrine falcons has been very successful since the first pair produced chicks in 1991. A total of 140 chicks have fledged in the park since then, including five last year and 11 in 2016.

It isn’t uncommon for falcon pairs to fail to nest some years, according to Shortt. He said this year and 2007 are the only two years since 1991 in which nesting has failed at the Precipice site.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. dbroom@mdislander.com