Richmond Falcon Cam
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Friday, May 10, 2013
The position of the scrape in the nest box makes it very hard to see the eggs. We have been watching closely for any sign of additional eggs and finally caught a glimpse of a third egg just before noon today. We aren’t sure when this may have been laid - likely sometime yesterday or earlier today. We’ll continue to watch and see if a fourth egg is laid over the weekend.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
We have confirmed a second clutch of eggs for the Richmond peregrine falcons. The first egg was likely laid sometime on Saturday May 4th. A second was clearly seen on May 7th. Peregrine falcons typically lay eggs two days apart. The nest scrape (depression in the gravel where the eggs are laid) is very close to the front edge of the nest box , making it difficult to see how many eggs the pair have. The birds have been incubating regularly and incubation generally starts with the penultimate (second to last) egg, although cool temeratures can cause incubation to start earlier in the process. A four egg clutch is the norm for peregrine falcons but we’ll have to wait until we get a better look to know for sure how many eggs we have.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Since the loss of the eggs at the Dominion Building we have been watching the cameras there as well as at Riverfront Plaza for falcon activity. We were pleased to see the birds on the Riverfront Plaza camera on April 23rd. Since that time both the male and female have spent considerable time at the nest box and have frequently engaged in courtship behavior like the “head-low” display seen below.
All of this makes us cautiously optimistic as we wait to see if the Richmond peregrines will attempt a second clutch.
Friday, April 19, 2013
DGIF biologists have been closely monitoring the nest and this morning noted that only a single egg remained. Biologists accessed the nest box and examined the remaining egg.
The egg was clearly cracked and leaking yolk. The cracks were not consistent with a normal hatching and at this late stage the yolk should have been absorbed by the embryo. All of this indicated that the egg was not viable. The egg was collected and DGIF is looking into having it evaluated for a variety of factors that might have led to this outcome.
Although it is late in the breeding season, the potential for re-nesting exists and we will continue to monitor this nest site for falcon activity.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
DGIF biologists continue to monitor the nest at One James River Plaza. Sometime after 7:30am this morning another egg was removed by the falcons. Two eggs remain and are being incubated. There are any number of factors that can contribute to late embryo mortality and at this point we don’t have enough information to do any more than speculate.
Monday, April 15, 2013
While we work to get the feed up and running, we continue to regularly monitor the cameras. Earlier today we saw that another egg has been removed from the scrape. In the photos below the eggs are visible as the male (noted by the bands on his legs) relieves the female of her incubating duty. The three remaining eggs are being incubated and we hope to see signs of hatching over the next few days.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
On Thursday April 11th Biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), with the assistance of Dominion personnel, installed two webcams at the peregrine falcon nest box on the 22nd floor of the Dominion Building at One James River Plaza in Downtown Richmond.
These two cameras will allow biologists to monitor the progress of the birds through their breeding cycle and provide the public with an opportunity to see the day to day lives of these amazing birds of prey. This project is jointly sponsored by VDGIF and Dominion. With the assistance of the University of Virginia Long Term Ecological Research project, live images from the camera will be made available to the public. We are working on the technical aspects of making these images available and hope to have it up and running soon. DGIF biologists will post information and updates through the breeding season.
The pair had laid a five egg clutch for the first time. The camera allowed us to see that one of these eggs was not being incubated through much of the day on Friday. On Friday evening at approximately 7:30 pm we could see that only four eggs remained in the nest box. Falcons will often remove non-viable eggs from the nest and we suspect that is what occurred. A DGIF biologist searched the ground underneath the nesting area on Saturday morning and found no sign of the egg. The female continues to incubate the remaining four eggs. Peregrine falcons typically incubate their eggs for 33-35 days and we expect these eggs to hatch sometime next week.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The Richmond peregrine falcons are full of surprises this year, not only did the pair nest in a new location, but a visit by VDGIF biologists on Friday afternoon (March 15th) determined that the pair had ltwo more eggs…for a total of five! This is very unusual for peregrine falcons. Work by CCB from 2002 through 2012 found only 7 five-egg clutches in Virginia during that 10 year period. (source Center for Conservation Biology).
Monday, March 11, 2013
Over the winter DGIF biologists accessed the ledge to perform maintenance on the Falcon Cam and to fashion a new fledge pen for the upcoming nesting season. This work was completed in December and we continued to see both adult falcons in the area and frequenting the nest ledge atop the Riverfront Plaza.
As the breeding season drew closer we expected to see more and more frequent visits to the nest box as the adults prepared for breeding. Although we continued to see them around Downtown we were not seeing them in and around the nest box. In past years the pair has occasionally waited until just before they were ready to lay eggs before appearing at the box so we continued to watch and wait.
Reports from observers downtown indicated that the birds were becoming very active. DGIF biologists manning the camera noticed the female regularly perched on a vertical opening along the top of the Southeastern face of the One James River Plaza building (the Dominion Building). The female was noted using the same opening on a number of occasions over a period of weeks and finally today we watched her walk into the opening and remain there for well over two hours. This seemed to be a strong indication that the birds had found a new nest site. DGIF contacted personnel at the building and they investigated confirming that the birds were indeed nesting here…and had three eggs!
Photo courtesy of Stu Hanckel
The pair is using an nest box first erected when peregrine falcons were released from the roof of the Dominion building from 2000 through 2002. Although falcons have been breeding in downtown Richmond since 2003 they have never used this box…until this year. For more details about the Richmond falcons please go here DGIF is coordinating with building personnel and will continue to monitor this pair and their breeding progress. We do not know at this point if we will be able to place a camera to follow them We will to post updates as we learn more.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The Richmond male juvenile falcon found dead on June 21 appears to have died as a result of a collision with the James Monroe building. A June 25 necropsy by the state wildlife veterinarian did not reveal any fractures or signs of trauma. However, the body of the bird was in poor condition due to exposure to hot weather following its death, so that any signs of internal hemorrhaging would not have been detectable. The falcon was estimated to have died within 24 hrs of its having been discovered in the early morning of June 21. Although the falcon was thin, this is not atypical for juvenile birds that have recently come off the nest and are expending a lot of energy in practicing to fly and other activities. Evidence of the juvenile having recently fed was further testament that the bird’s body condition was not likely to have contributed to its death.
Ultimately the necropsy did not document evidence of the bird having collided with a building. However, observations at the scene when the bird was discovered, including the bird’s proximity to the building, lead us to conclude that a collision was implicated in the death of the falcon. The site of the incident is somewhat surprising, as the reflectivity of the glass façade of the James Monroe building is lower than that of other buildings in the downtown Richmond area, such that it is unclear what circumstances contributed to this unfortunate event.