• Adults weigh about 2 pounds; 3-foot wing span
• Most extensive natural habitation of any bird
• Normal speed, 40-55 mph; over 200 mph in a steep dive
• Captures prey (live birds, occasionally bats), mid-air
• They mate for life
• Nests of sticks & soft fiber, typically on cliffs
• Estimated 3,875 nesting pairs in U.S. (as of 2013)
Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
BUSHKILL - Peregrine falcons, considered the fastest species on Earth, continue to re-inhabit historic natural territories in Pennsylvania and other states where recovery from the brink of extinction has been a symbol of hope. Once a federally listed endangered species, peregrines were delisted in 1999 because of their highly successful recovery in many places in North America, most prominently on man-made structures. The species still remains listed as an endangered species in the state of Pennsylvania. Within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, two pair have been observed defending natural high-cliff nesting territories.
Since first detected nesting in 2003, the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania Game Commission have worked in close coordination each year to monitor a peregrine nest on the cliffs of Mount Minsi. In an exciting step towards recovery, peregrine territorial activity is taking place at another historic location in the park along the Milford Cliffs, where historic nesting pairs were documented in the1940’s and 1950’s prior to the sudden and dramatic decline of the species.
By order of the Superintendent of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and under the authority of Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1.5(a) and Section (a)(1), areas in and around these cliffs have been closed as of February 23, 2018 to all visitor and operational activities in order to protect the nesting and pre-fledging periods from inadvertent disturbance or harassment.
Trails bordering the closure remain open. The closed cliff areas are clearly marked with signs at trailheads or trail junctions. The opening of these closed areas is expected in late July or early August if the nesting attempt is successful.
“We ask for assistance from our visitors to please respect the closures,” said Kathleen Sandt, Park Service spokesperson.
Falcons are particularly vulnerable to human activities that disturb or threaten the adults causing them to be less attentive and caring of the eggs or chicks. Disturbance can lead to temporary or permanent abandonment of the nest by the adults, leading to hypothermia, starvation, or predation by other birds.
“Any human disturbance that leads to chick mortality or complete nest failure only slows the recovery of the species and is in violation of state and federal law and policy, which will be enforced,” Sandt said.
Biologists will closely monitor the areas throughout the nesting season. Reopening of closed areas will be announced when it is determined that human activity will not disturb the young birds.
For updated information about the closures visit the park’s website, www.nps.gov/dewa or follow the park on www.facebook.com/DelWaterGapNPS.