Richmond Falcon Cam
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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.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Yesterday morning DGIF biologists accessed the ledge in order to remove the pen that had housed the falcon chicks prior to their fledging. We were met with consistent aggression by the falcon pair, and when one of the juvenile females began joining in the attacks, we withdrew from the ledge so as to avoid potential injury to the young falcon through collision with the building. Prior to leaving, we were able to remove the wooden roof and collect the gravel and the actuator used to remotely open the pen door (see June 5 post ‘Opening doors’). Removal of the actuator, which could be potentially damaged by wet weather, was the reason that we accessed the ledge earlier than we have in the past. We will complete removal of the pen in a few weeks, when it is anticipated that the birds will be less territorial.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Yesterday morning the juvenile male falcon (band AS/83) was found dead at the James Monroe Building in downtown Richmond. DGIF staff retrieved the bird it will be examined by the Agency wildlife veterinarian. The exact cause of death has not been determined, hopefully the exam will provide some definitive answers. We will share the results once they are known.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
We continue to receive reports from local falcon watchers indicating that all three falcon fledglings are doing well. They continue to improve their flying abilities and are frequently seen on the buildings in the downtown area.
The young spend most of their time in the air chasing their parents and begging for food, improving their flight skills and stamina in the process. The adults will also begin to use food to “train” the young passing it off in mid air and eventually dropping it for the young birds to catch on the wing. This begins the process of these fledglings learning to hunt. The young birds will remain in the area for some weeks or even months - until they become truly independent and strike out on their own.
Our thanks to the many volunteers who assisted in our Falcon Fledgewatch efforts last week!
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The pen door was opened at 9:13am and the male immediately took off - making a spectacular and strong flight out of sight (he was relocated several blocks away a short time later) The two young females were more tentative…one took a short flight and then stayed put on the ledge for several hours! The final chick took some time to come out of the box and then spent a couple of hours on the ledge before finally making a short flight. As we moved through the afternoon and into the evening all three of the chicks made additional flights. All of them were doing well flying and just as importantly…landing!
We’ll resume monitoring tomorrow morning and watch through the day to ensure their progress continues.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
We’ll try to use a new door opening mechanism this year. Using a linear actuator (a small electric motor) the pen latch will be opened and the door will swing open. The mechanism was installed this afternoon to allow the birds plenty of time to settle down before tomorrow’s release. Unfortunately the actuator is installed just above the camera’s field of vision, so we won’t see it operate - but the results should be clear…an open pen door! Hopefully being able to open the door earlier will give the birds that much more flight time on their first day.
The actuator runs on a low voltage/low amp current (12 volts 5 amperes - the same as a car battery) and w
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
The female chick 35/AV had a nice exercise session in the pen this evening…flapping up to the top of the pen and taking the short glide back down. Hopefully all three will be raring to go tomorrow!
Monday, June 4, 2012
Whenever we access the nest ledge of the Richmond falcons we keep an eye out for prey remains. These give an accurate picture of the diet of these falcons. In the past we’ve identified a number of different prey species. We commonly fnd pigeon remains and yellow-billed cuckoos are another species these falcons seem to favor. We’ve found purple martins, chimney swifts an american woodcock and even a bat.
During this year’s banding we found some feathers that we hadn’t seen before - requiring a little bit of research to identify what this bird was. This bird is widespread in the East and is rarely seen; possesesing amazing camouflage. The distinctive calls of this bird ring out in the night and give the bird its name. We’ll post the answer to this feather mystery in a few days.
Monday, June 4, 2012
We are aware of the camera outage and are working with our partners to have equipment checked and rebooted.
we are still able to log directly into the camera and can confirm that the chicks are well and continuing to practice flapping their wings.