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NH Peregrine Falcon 2023 Breeding Season Results

News & Events

NH Peregrine Falcon 2023 Breeding Season Results

(by Chris Martin)

Figure 1: Peregrine Falcon Productivity data.

In 2023, NH Audubon staff and a dedicated team of Peregrine Falcon volunteer observers confirmed 27 territorial pairs, tying 2022’s record high in New Hampshire (see Figure 1). We documented 23 incubating pairs, one less than 2022’s record. We tallied 18 successful pairs that fledged at least one young each, and the total of 48 young fledged was the most ever documented in the Granite State in any one season. This total beat out 2022’s record of 47 young fledged, and it occurred largely because we found four nest sites (Brady Sullivan, Holts Ledge, Polar Caves, Westmoreland Quarry) that produced four young each, as well as seven more nests that fledged three young apiece.

Photo 1: Two fledglings await their next meal near Dixville Notch in early August. Photo by Lori Charron.

Manchester’s Brady Sullivan Tower came through once again, fledging four chicks in 2023. This territory has been successful for 23 consecutive years, with 3.22 young fledged per year nesting, and producing total of 74 fledglings since 2001. An abandoned quarry in southwest NH has an even higher productivity rate, but over a much shorter time; the Westmoreland Quarry has fledged 22 chicks (3.67 young per year) in six consecutive successful seasons since its discovery in 2018. It was the last-minute confirmation of two chicks in early August at Abenaki Mountain in Dixville Notch (see Photo 1) that put us over the top with a count of 48 fledged in 2023! We also had two territories where falcon pairs laid eggs more than once and still failed; both at Rattlesnake Mountain in Rumney and at Swenson Granite in Concord. We are still searching for possible nest sites in Dover and Hampton/Seabrook (see Photo 2), where adult Peregrines continue to be seen during the nesting season.

Photo 2: ‘Black/green 07/CB’, a male fledged in 2020 from a nearby Newburyport bridge, was ID’ed several times in 2023 in the Hampton Harbor area. Photo by Kim Smith.

This was the 43rd breeding season in the post-DDT recovery era for NH’s Peregrines. Once listed as federally endangered after disappearing from the entire region as a breeding species, Peregrines still remain on NH’s state-threatened list, and their population recovery continues to be very gradual. Yet, NH’s Peregrines are a key piece of a now widely distributed regional breeding population that includes both cliff-nesting and urban-nesting pairs. NH Audubon continues to lead management activities designed to promote successful nesting outcomes. In 2023, this work included posting and sharing info about seasonal climbing route closures at five popular cliffs, installing/maintaining nest boxes and trays, investigating nest failures, reviewing trail projects and other proposals with potential to disrupt falcon breeding, and offering advice to landowners who host peregrines on their land. NH Peregrine Falcon monitoring and management is supported by a federal State Wildlife Grant to NH Fish and Game’s Nongame Wildlife Program, by a grant from the Knopf Family Foundation, and by generous donations from NH Audubon members and others. We extend a big “Thank you!” to all who assist, including our federal and state partners, our corporate and foundation partners, private landowners, and many rock climbers and volunteer falcon observers.

Heat from the cliff rocks blurs this photo of nestlings being fed at a successful nestsite, taken by Jane Kolias.