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elaine

Peregrine Falcon Information

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Below is a post I wrote on Cascade Corridor Climbers Facebook page today.

Per my post on FB below - https://www.facebook.com/groups/CCClimbers/permalink/3266008956798011/

I thought I would share a little info on this page that I have learned in talking with 3 different wildlife biologists, who don't know each other at all, as well as the Head Ranger at Smith Rock about Peregrine Falcon development and behaviors, and why many of our favorite climbing and recreation areas have restrictions. The Head Ranger at Smith shared some info on both Bald and Golden Eagles, too, which might affect other areas besides Smith.

As someone who has been involved with climbing access since 2003 in Oregon, I think it's important that all climbers (and hikers, mountain bikers, etc) not only understand a little about the wildlife that we share our spaces with, but also recognize that there is a discrepancy with how different land managers are not on the same page. The more information we have, the more we can advocate for a balanced approach to recreational access. And don't get me wrong, I love Peregrines and other raptors, and I think they need space when raising their offspring.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is misused by land managers. It has to do with *intentional* take and killing, and it was not written for unintentional disturbance, such as climbers finding a new eyrie/nest on a cliff that wasn't known about.

-Two of the most critical times to not disturb the falcons are courtship and eyrie/nest selection, and the first two weeks after the chicks hatch because they can't thermoregulate.

-If juveniles can't figure out flying within that first 24 hours of attempted fledging, it's possible that they will die. They can't hunt if they can't fly. (This certainly isn't always the case.) One wildlife biologist who bred them in captivity in conjunction with the Peregrine Fund and released them from Hack boxes said that they had no parents (role models) to watch for flying and hunting skills. It's as if they just knew what to do to survive.

-Juveniles are hunting on their own in one week of fledging.

-Juveniles will go further and further from the nest in the days and weeks after fledging (per radio collar info). They may be gone for days at a time two weeks after fledging.

-Juveniles will migrate south come September while the adults often stick around in the region. Cascade mountain Peregrines (Smith/Menagerie) *might* head to the coast for the variety of shorebirds for food come August/September and into winter before returning to their typical eyrie/nesting area.

Many climbing and hiking areas (Cape Horn, WA) have different dates when closures are lifted. Some are two weeks after fledging (Honeycombs), and some are flat out July 15/31. Blanket reopening dates are not necessary, which is what Beacon Rock often is.

**Smith Rock lifts Peregrine closures between 4 and 7 days after the youngest juvenile fledges because that's enough time to not let the falcons harass climbers, and climbers won't bother them anymore, either. For the bald eaglets nesting in the tree just outside of the Bivy campground next to the river, the restrictions for the Canyon trail and rim campsites are lifted (in a normal year) one week after the eaglets fledge. Monitors are looking to see when the eaglets do not return to the nest at night, and not present in the nest the next morning, and typically that's one week. Golden Eagle closures on the Monument are often lifted immediately because the juveniles are gone from the area after fledging. Goldens are more sensitive to human disturbance compared to other raptors in the park.

I loved the Head Ranger at Smith's final statement about raptor closures: "Park users respect the closures because we are transparent with them."

A long, but informative post. I am also not any kind of raptor expert, but I am just sharing the knowledge and practice of those who work with raptors. I do think that the more information we have about nesting raptors, the more we can respectfully challenge those who are making decisions. Change doesn't come quick, but engaging land managers in conversations with facts and information with management of raptors at other climbing areas can be helpful in starting those conversations. Kudos to people like Greg Orton, who has done a fabulous job in Southern Oregon with this.

I added this comment/reply to my post - 

I would say that Smith Rock is a good model for balancing wildlife closures and recreation. They work with 3 wildlife biologists (one state park and two US F&W), as well as the Oregon Eagle Foundation. I've always enjoyed looking through the eagle cams set up at Northern Point, and also talking with the rangers and volunteers monitoring to learn more. With the bald eaglets as a great example, they are actually waiting to see that the eaglets have spent the night away from the nest before lifting the restrictions. Always follow www.smithrock.com for more info, or follow their FB page.

I would just add that it's best to keep in mind what I shared above that some of the milestones in development with juveniles fledging, or even some of the adult behaviors are what's typical and normally observed. However, there can be some variances with some of this, too, but are not as frequent.
I guess be patient with your favorite climbs reopening if the juveniles take longer to fledge than normal, which is approximately 42 days after hatching using Peregrines as an example.

 

I tried to make a point to state that some of the points below are not an end-all, be-all. There will always be variances with nesting raptors and juvenile development, but 3 different wildlife biologists who don't know one another can't be that far off, nor can a Head Ranger at Smith Rock be that out of touch, either.

 

Kellie

President, Madrone Wall Preservation Committee

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