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Falcon Nests put Temporary Halt to Rock Wall Climbing in Washington

Peregrine falcons have one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Peregrine falcons have one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Climbers are being asked to temporarily avoid a popular rock wall on the western slopes of Washington’s Cascade Mountains because it’s become a nesting spot for peregrine falcons.

The birds are on U.S. Forest Service land above nearby Olallie State Park. The peregrine is designated a sensitive species, which requires the Forest Service to protect its breeding habitat.

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest wildlife biologist Sonny Paz said climbers should avoid the Deception Crag Wall until the end of June. That’s about the time when the young birds will be ready to leave the nest.

While the wall offers a sweeping view of an area where the adult falcons are able to hunt for prey, the steep rock face protects the eggs and young birds from predators.

Peregrine falcons are highly specialized predators feeding primarily on other birds. The falcons declined after the 1940s as a result of the widespread use of pesticides such as DDT. The peregrine falcon species has been restored to much of its former range through captive breeding and releases.

Peregrines have dark gray or black plumage on back and wings, and a black mark on the face resembling a mustache.

The name “peregrine” means wanderer. The birds that nest in Alaska and northern Canada and winter in South America may migrate as much as 15,500 miles in a year.

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