(by Chris Martin)
Spring 2022 marked the 42nd year in the post-DDT recovery era for New Hampshire’s Peregrine Falcon population. Once federally endangered, and still listed as state-threatened, NH’s Peregrines have been rebounding at a very gradual pace for many years. Some years – like the one just ended – show notable increases, while other years are not as good. Although NH’s Peregrine population hasn’t shown as dramatic a recovery as NH’s Bald Eagles, our breeding falcons are an important part of a healthy regional population that includes both cliff-dwelling and urban-nesting pairs.
In 2022, NH Audubon staff and volunteer falcon-watchers documented a record-setting breeding season for NH Peregrines (see graph). We confirmed 27 territorial pairs, up one from the previous state record-high 26 found in 2021. One new nest site was discovered this year at Band M Ledge, an lesser-known climbing destination in Albany. Statewide, we confirmed a record-high 24 incubating pairs and a record-high 18 successful pairs that fledged at least one young each. A total of 47 young Peregrines fledged in 2022, exceeding the previous state record of 43 set back in 2018. Two NH nest sites (Cathedral Ledge, Westmoreland Quarry) fledged 4 young each, but Manchester’s Brady Sullivan Tower was the true star of the show in 2022, fledging 5 young. This marked only the third time out of a total of 348 productive Peregrine nests in NH since 1981 (<1% of all successful nests) where we have seen 5 young fledge!
One of the true thrills of working with these raptors is the incredible places that they nest. NH Audubon volunteer Robert Vallieres has been helping us monitor Peregrines for over 25 years, and he has encountered them in some truly magnificent White Mountain locations, including in the vastness of Franconia Notch and up close at Russell Crag.
Management steps that we take at the state’s Peregrine Falcon breeding sites are funded in part by a federal State Wildlife Grant to the NH Fish and Game Department’s Nongame Wildlife Program, but also by generous gifts that we get from NH Audubon members and supporters. As always, a huge “Thank You!” goes to all those who choose to financially support our ongoing NH Peregrine Falcon recovery efforts. We also thank our partners at NH Fish and Game, other natural resource agencies like the White Mountain National Forest, our corporate partners, private landowners, and many rock climbers and volunteer falcon-watchers.
Looking forward to even better results in 2023!