Park staff have observed that three peregrine falcon chicks have fledged from their nest on Devils Tower. The confirmation of chicks leaving the nest means that all rock climbing routes have reopened on the Tower. Each year, some climbing routes are temporarily closed during the spring and summer to protect falcon nesting sites and to protect climbers from adult falcons who will defensively dive to protect their young.
Protected nesting locations such as Devils Tower, have been crucial in the recovery of peregrine falcons. Falcons experienced sharp declines in North America during the 1960s and 1970s due to widespread use of the insecticide DDT. The insecticide impacted many raptor species by making eggshells very thin, reducing reproduction success. Peregrine falcons were listed as endangered in 1970. Since then, they have made a remarkable recovery and were removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999.
Devils Tower National Monument Chief of Resources, Russ Cash, had this to say about the success of falcons this season: “Each spring and summer, park biologists regularly monitor the falcon activity around the Tower. Often these falcons will nest and lay eggs, yet there are times when the chicks do not survive. Fortunately, this year has been an exciting and successful year for the falcons. Two adults chose a nesting site on the northeastern corner of the Tower to lay their clutch of eggs. Biologists later confirmed that there were three falcon chicks that survived, grew, and successfully fledged this year. Three chicks is truly an incredible number, and here at the Tower we are thrilled to have witnessed their development. The success of the nest has been a bright, uplifting spot to an otherwise chaotic year. The hard work of our biologists and the cooperation of the climbing community and visitors, has ensured that these three young falcons have a good shot at life.”
Devils Tower National Monument wishes to thank the climbing community and all park visitors who have been curious about the falcons, asked questions, and have adhered to the climbing closure.