• Spires of Cedar Mesa sandstone in Chesler Park (Needles District)

    Canyonlands

    National Park Utah

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • Some unpaved roads are closed

    Recent rains have caused extensive damage to some roads in the Needles District and some of the roads into the Maze District. More »

  • Safety in Bear Country

    Black bears have been seen in the Needles, Maze, and along the Colorado River. Be alert and store food and garbage properly: in hard-sided, latched containers (or your vehicle) when not being prepared or consumed. More »

  • New backcountry requirements in effect

    Hard-sided bear containers are required for backpackers in parts of the Needles District. More »

Peregrine Falcons

American Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Photo by Gary Hartley
 

The Peregrine Falcon has the most extensive distribution of any bird in the world. The American peregrine falcon is found in Canyonlands, typically nesting in shallow caves high on cliff walls along the Colorado and Green rivers. Their diet consists almost exclusively of birds, and the sound created as they attack their prey can be startling. In a dive, peregrines may attain speeds exceeding 200 miles an hour, making them without a doubt the fastest bird.

From 1940 through the early 1970s, the use of DDT as a pesticide caused a precipitous decline in the peregrine population. This chemical agent caused eggshell thinning and breakage, and in some areas successful reproduction stopped altogether. The peregrine was listed as a federally endangered species in 1973.

Restrictions on DDT pesticides and coordinated recovery efforts have led to a remarkable comeback. From a low of about 324 nesting pairs in the U.S. and Canada in 1975, roughly 1,650 nesting pairs were counted in 1999. In 1999, the American peregrine falcon was removed from the endangered species list, though the species is not fully recovered throughout its range; rather, it is “no longer threatened with extinction in the foreseeable future.” Peregrines are still on the state endangered species list in Utah, but the species is fairly common in the canyons of southeast Utah.

In 1989, the National Park Service began a three-year program to determine peregrine populations in western parks. Canyonlands was part of this program, and initial surveys found five breeding pairs. Canyonlands continues to monitor selected nest sites today, and the local population appears healthy.

Did You Know?

Biological Soil Crust

The dirt is alive! A living crust called "Biological Soil Crust" covers much of Canyonlands and the surrounding area. Composed of algae, lichens and bacteria, this crust provides a secure foundation for desert plants. Please stay on roads and trails to avoid trampling this important resource. More...