Richmond Falcon Cam followers may recall that remnants of two failed nesting attempts by the falcon pair were collected earlier this year. These included one intact egg and some eggshell fragments (see May 15 and May 22 blog entries). These materials were sent for tests to investigate potential exposure to contaminants in the environment, including heavy metals, pesticides and flame retardants.
Some of these results have just been reported. Both the egg and the eggshell were found to contain very high concentrations of lead. The primary pathway for lead deposition into the eggs is through the female, so these findings suggest that the female has suffered exposure to lead. Interestingly, eggshell fragments recovered from this pair’s failed 2008 nesting attempt came back negative for lead. Therefore, it is likely that the female's exposure to lead is recent. We hope to continue our investigations through recovery and testing of the unhatched egg, possible blood tests of the chicks, and consideration of potential sources of lead exposure in the greater Richmond area.
Additional results for other potential contaminants will be posted when received.