Author Topic: 2017 Peregrine Update  (Read 872 times)

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2017 Peregrine Update
« on: September 28, 2017, 10:42:52 AM »
I received an email from NH Audubon Biologist Chris Martin about the state of the peregrines in 2017. It's worth a read:

Hello NH Peregrine Falcon Watchers –
Spring 2017 marked the 37th breeding season in the post-DDT recovery era for New Hampshire’s peregrine falcon population.  Once classified as federally endangered, and currently listed as state-threatened, our state’s peregrine population has grown at a very gradual pace for a number of years.  While NH peregrines have not demonstrated the robust recovery rate that we have seen, for example, with our state’s bald eagles, the NH population continues to slowly expand, and it is an important component in a strong regional population that includes both cliff-nesting and urban-nesting pairs. 
In 2017, NH Audubon staff and a number of volunteer falcon observers confirmed a state record-high of 24 occupied territories in NH (previous high was 23 territories in 2014 (see PDF graph attached)).  Other measures of breeding success in 2017 that we track annually were not as strong as we had hoped.  We confirmed incubation of eggs by 19 of the state’s 24 pairs (79%), and of this year’s 19 incubating pairs, only 12 (63% of incubating pairs, 50% of territorial pairs) were successful in fledging at least one young.  The 12 successful nests in NH was down from the state record-high of 14 nests in 2016.  A total of 31 young fledged in 2017, an average of 1.63 young fledged per nesting pair, which is just a fraction off the state's 37-year average of 1.65 young fledged per nesting pair.  Notably, for the first time in the post-DDT era in New Hampshire, 30 or more young have fledged each year for four consecutive breeding seasons in the Granite State.
Two NH nest sites (Brady-Sullivan in Manchester (see photo), Fall Mtn in Walpole) fledged 4 young each in 2017.  Manchester now has two separate pairs, with falcons nesting on the I-293/101 Bridge as well as on the Brady-Sullivan Tower.  The Town of Rumney also has two nesting pairs, with confirmation of a successful nest at Polar Caves as well as on Rattlesnake Mtn.  A pair nesting at a Concord quarry fledged 3 young (see photo) in 2017.  Workers at the Irving Oil Marine Terminal in Portsmouth reported a prematurely fledged chick that “dropped in” from the nearby I-95 Bridge (see photo) and, along with the parent birds, watched over the chick until it was able to fly away under its own power.  Diamond Peaks in the Second College Grant successfully fledged young for the third time in the past four years, but did so in a rather unusual way.  After discovering them incubating in mid-June (a very late date), we returned to the site on 2 August to find two 38-day old chicks nearly ready to fledge.  This was surely the result of a re-nesting after initial failure because in 379 nesting attempts dating back to 1981, this was the latest fledging date ever documented for a NH peregrine pair.
Collaborating with colleagues from Stantec and BioDiversity Research Institute, we caught and fitted lightweight solar-powered satellite transmitters on two more adult female peregrines (Fall Mtn in Walpole (see photo), I-95 Bridge in Portsmouth), bringing the total number of NH female peregrines we are tracking up to four.  Our female from Bear Mtn in Hebron has been continuously broadcasting location data since May 2014.  For the second year in a row, our female from Rattlesnake Mtn in Rumney made an exceptionally early departure in mid-July (see map), migrating to her preferred wintering area and leaving recently fledged young behind, presumably for her mate to watch over!
Accessing remote nest ledges to band falcon chicks is both time-consuming and logistically complex, and NH Audubon has scaled back on this activity.  Instead we are placing greater emphasis on determining the banded status of New Hampshire’s breeding adult peregrines, with the following results in 2017.  Of 48 known individuals, the banded status was determined for 22 birds (46%) and remained unknown for another 26.  Of the 22 individuals where banded status was confirmed, 15 (68%) were unbanded, while 7 (32%) were confirmed to have leg bands.  Except for an extensive banding program still underway in Massachusetts, the majority of New England’s young peregrine falcons now fledge from their nests without being handled or banded by biologists.  Notable band encounters in 2017 include “black/green 2/1”, a 12-yr old male originally from Rumney NH that is breeding in Cambridge MA.  Also Nashua’s breeding male, 8-yr old “black/green 5/9”, who is a grandchild of the Manchester NH falcons.  A Manchester offspring from 2001, 16-yr old “black/green *6/*4”, who continues to rule the roost at a highly productive nest in Lawrence MA.  And one of his offspring, 4-yr old “black/green 11/BD”, who remains the territorial male at the I-293/101 Bridge site in Manchester/Bedford.
As always, a really big “Thank You!” goes out to all those who support our ongoing peregrine falcon recovery efforts in New Hampshire, including natural resource managers, private landowners, volunteer observers, corporate partners, and rock climbers.  Among those volunteers playing key roles in accomplishing our work, I want to thank Peg Ackerson, Iain MacLeod, Bob Mann, Jim Marshall, Kristi Medill, Alex Medlicott, Cal Peterka, Chris Sheridan, Mark Timmerman, Robert Vallieres, and others.  Also thanks to those who assisted in some professional capacity, including Bret Clark (SingleDigits), Chris DeSorbo (BioDiversity Research), Tom French (MassWildlife), Lauren Gilpatrick (BioDiversity Research), Doug Gosling (NH DOT), Adam Gravel (Stantec), Sandi Houghton (NH Fish & Game), Chris Persico (BioDiversity Research), Gene Popien (NH DOT), Tim Roberge (Brady-Sullivan Properties), Matt Stevens (Appalachian Trail Conservancy), Bruce Stuart (Irving Oil), and others.  Management activity at breeding sites is supported by a federal State Wildlife Grant to the NH Fish and Game Department Nongame Program, coordinated for the past quarter-century by John Kanter.  Additional monitoring support was provided by a grant from the Nuttall Ornithological Club’s Charles Blake Fund.  And of course we always appreciate the generous support of NH Audubon members and other individuals. 
Al Hospers
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