BAR HARBOR, Maine — Rangers at Acadia National Park have closed areas in and around Beech Cliff on the southwest side of Echo Lake, because it appears that endangered peregrine falcons are defending their nesting territory.
Chris McGuire, head lifeguard at Echo Lake, said he has observed the falcons many times and although they don’t come too close to visitors, they vigorously defend their territory against other birds.
“You can really see them fighting,” McGuire said Saturday.
The closure at Beech Cliff includes the Beech Cliff Ladder Trail from Echo Lake and each side of the Beech Cliff Loop.
Areas beyond these trails are clearly marked with signs stating the areas are closed.
Park rangers said that if the nesting effort appears unsuccessful, the area would be reopened.
That seems unlikely, however.
“It is pretty much a yearly event,” McGuire said. “Only once in the last five years have they failed to nest.”
Peregrine falcons can live up to 17 years in the wild, according to National Geographic. They range from 14 to 19 inches tall with a wingspan of up to 3.5 feet.
They are formidable hunters that prey on other birds and bats, diving up to 200 mph to snap up their prey. Successive generations of falcons have occupied some nesting sites for hundreds of years.
They were placed on the Endangered Species List after pesticide use thinned their eggshells, threatening the populations, between 1950 and 1970.
If the falcons at Acadia establish a nest, the area will remain closed until approximately five weeks after the last chick takes flight from the nest.
A separate trail, the Precipice Trail, already is closed to protect nesting activities by falcons there. That area should be reopened in late July or early August.
Park biologists already have confirmed that a nesting effort by peregrines at Valley Cove Trail was unsuccessful although they could not state why. Adult birds observed earlier this spring in the area have left, they said.
For information on trail closures, call 288-3338 or go to www.nps.gov/acad.