The stunning cliffs of the Adirondacks are home to billion-year-old rocks, a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts, and a fragile but growing population of the endangered peregrine falcon. For Adirondack rock climbers, this means sharing cliffs with the birds that build their nests high on a wall.
By 1960, the use of pesticides had reduced the breeding population of peregrines in the Adirondacks to zero. Since then, New York State has taken great efforts to provide protection for the endangered species, while they establish themselves in the Adirondacks once again.
Nesting between 20 and 200 feet above the ground and waterways below, peregrines use their keen eyesight to locate and dive on their prey. As they approach the ground, these nimble birds can reach speeds close to 200 mph, snatch their prey, and pull back up towards the sky.
Peregrines have been recorded living up to 12 years, though the average life expectancy is around six. This lifespan allows the birds to return to their same nest site (known as an eyrie) year after year, making it even more important to take extra care to tread lightly in their breeding ground.
What can you do to help?
Keep your distance: Peregrine falcons are protective of their young and will attack using their sharp talons to defend their territory.
Know before you go: Be sure to check the Adirondack Rock Climbing Closures webpage before you head to the crag. Human disturbance can result in a peregrines abandoning their nest and their young.
Report what you see: Climbers can report peregrine sightings to help identify routes and crags that should be closed during the breeding season. You can contact NYS DEC Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 987-1291 or at email@example.com.
For more information on peregrine falcons and their breeding, visit DEC’s Peregrine Falcon webpage, or go to the Peregrine Falcons and the Adirondack Rock Climber info page for more information on recreating near breeding areas
Photo provided by DEC.