9 peregrine falcon chicks fledge at Acadia, Precipice Trail now open to hikers

Nine peregrine falcon chicks fledged at three nests at Acadia National Park in 2019, helping clear the way for the popular Precipice Trail to open.

peregrine falcon chick

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

According to Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for Acadia, four peregrine falcon chicks fledged at  the Precipice on the east face of Champlain Mountain; three at Jordan Cliffs and two at Valley Cove over Somes Sound. The total is one more than last year and about 150 peregrine falcon chicks have fledged at Acadia over the last 28 years.

The steep Precipice Trail, perhaps the most difficult trail in the park for hikers, opened on Friday.

Although annual closures at Acadia for the state-endangered nesting falcons have been lifted, the Jordan Cliffs Trail remains closed across the cliffs for extensive trail work, 7 am to 4:30 pm, each Monday through Thursday, according to Anastasia.

Valley Cove Trail has been closed since July 2016 due to severely damaged and deteriorated walls, stone steps, and tread support structures, according to the park. Planning is underway to reopen the trail later this autumn. The trail is located between Flying Mountain and Man O’ War Brook, on the east side St. Sauveur Mountain, along Somes Sound, according to the park.

The Precipice Trail, the Valley  Cove Trail and the Jordan Cliffs Trail are usually closed each year in late March or early April until late July or early August each year because of nesting peregrine falcon chicks.

Nest for peregrine falcon chicks on Precipice in Acadia failed in 2018

Last year, in an unusual event, a nest  for peregrine falcon chicks failed at the Precipice, prompting park officials to reopen the trail on July 13 of last year.

peregrine falcon chicks

Looks like almost feeding time for peregrine falcon chick, being banded in Acadia National Park in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Erin Wheat)

Eight peregrine falcon chicks fledged last year at Acadia, five in 2017 and 11 in 2016.

Under a reintroduction program for the falcons, the first successful nest in 35 years occurred in 1991 in Acadia National Park.

The peregrine falcon had disappeared from the eastern U.S. during the 1960s and also from almost all of the rest of the country because of extensive application of the DDT pesticide, which was later banned.

The resident breeding population of peregrines remains  endangered under Maine’s Endangered Species Act.

The 1962 book Silent Spring by Maine’s Rachel Carson helped raise public awareness of the dangerous use of pesticides.  The federal EPA in 1972 approved a ban on DDT based on its harmful environmental effects.

Dolores Kong & Dan Ring

About Dolores Kong & Dan Ring

Dolores Kong and Dan Ring are co-authors of the Falcon guides Hiking Acadia National Park and Best Easy Day Hikes Acadia National Park, and also blog at acadiaonmymind.com. They’ve backpacked the 270-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, and are members of the Northeast 111 Club, having hiked all major peaks of the Northeast. Dolores is a former staff reporter at The Boston Globe. Dan is a journalist and former Statehouse bureau chief in Boston for the old Ottaway News Service and for The Republican, the daily newspaper for Springfield, Mass. They are married and live in New England.