Scheduling banding this year has been a bit tricky as some other issues needed to be resolved before we could move forward. OSHA regulations deemed the fall-arrest system inadequate on Riverfront Plaza. This is the system that assures the safety of any personnel who must access the ledge.
This has created somewhat of a catch-22. The necessary work could not be performed with the falcons on the nest, and we can’t access the ledge (and the falcons) because the work hasn’t been performed.
DGIF staff have been in discussions with the building management and come to a solution. On Friday July 24th beginning at about 9:30 a.m., contractors will install an updated fall-arrest system on only the portion of ledge shared with the falcons (as opposed to the entire perimeter of the building). All work on the ledge will be supervised by DGIF biologists to ensure the safety of the falcons (and the contractors!). This procedure was evaluated carefully by DGIF Nongame biologists to ensure that any disturbance would be tolerated by the birds. Part of the desire to have this safety system installed is to ensure that should an urgent situation arise with the falcons, DGIF personnel will be able to access the ledge as necessary.
The birds will be given a chance to settle down following Friday’s scheduled work and biologists will return on Monday July 27th to band the three eyases. At this time blood samples will also be taken to evaluate the chick’s potential lead exposure. The unhatched egg will be collected for further testing. The camera will not be active for either the safety system installation or the banding. Photos and information from the banding will be posted to the blog.
Those who have followed the pair since 2006 when they first nested at Riverfront Plaza, are very familiar with our Richmond falcon banding routine. In past years, this has included transferring and “hacking” some of the Richmond chicks to augment the Appalachian population, and “penning” the remaining Richmond chicks to enhance their chances of survival (Please see the 2007 blog link http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/falconcam2008/2007-archive.asp for details on these topics). Falcon fans also are aware that our pair did not successfully nest in 2008, and that this year they suffered two nest failures before producing three chicks from four eggs.
Due to the nest failures of the last two years, the lateness of this year’s brood and to reinforce the pair’s attachment to the Riverfront Plaza nest site, we have decided to leave all the chicks at the nestbox site to fledge naturally this year. We are hopeful that the spaciousness of the ledge, the relative abundance of shade and protected nature of this site will result in their successful fledging in mid-August.