UPDATE ON RICHMOND’S FALCONS!
The 2009 breeding season begins with some uncertainty regarding where the downtown Richmond falcons intend to nest. DGIF and our partners have been monitoring the falcons’ activities via the Richmond Falcon Cam. So far the birds have paid little attention to the nest box on the West Tower at Riverfront Plaza, and have instead focused on their old nest site at the BB&T building. On March 20th, a DGIF biologist accessed the BB&T balcony ledge to determine whether any eggs had been laid, and found that none had been. He then used bricks and cinderblocks to minimize nesting opportunities at that site. The decision to discourage the falcons from nesting on the BB&T ledge was based on the challenges and risks posed by that site.
After the Richmond falcons were first documented as a pair in 2002, they nested on the BB&T building in 2003 through 2005. They moved to an existing nest box on the nearby West Tower of the Riverfront Plaza in 2006, and nested there again in 2007 and 2008. Following the pair’s move to Riverfront Plaza, DGIF personnel covered the nest platform on the BB&T building ledge with a slanted board, to discourage the birds from nesting there again. The narrow ledge provides little room for the chicks to move about and exercise as they grow, increasing likelihood of their jumping or falling from the ledge before they can fly, as was experienced in 2003. "Penning" and soft release of the chicks from the BB&T site, as was accomplished in 2004 and 2005, requires construction of a pen on the roof of the building, and stressful (for the chicks and parents) relocation of the chicks to the rooftop during banding. Furthermore, nest and camera management by biologists at that site is difficult and unsafe because of the small space on which the nesting platform is built. The site is only accessible through a window, which further exposes biologists to attack by the adult birds.
It is our hope that the pair will refocus its attention on the Riverfront Plaza site, and that we may continue to broadcast their breeding activities via the Richmond Falcon Cam. We will continue to monitor the pair and to provide updates as events unfold.
UPDATE AT THE BREAKS!
On an upbeat note, today we received confirmation of a pair of peregrines at Breaks Interstate Park, on the Kentucky-Virginia border near Haysi, VA. In partnership with the Park staff, we have conducted hacks of Virginia-produced juvenile falcons at the Park during the last two summers (including 2 chicks of the Richmond pair in 2007), in hopes of establishing a resident pair. We will provide updates on the “Breaks” pair as the season progresses.