Richmond Falcon Cam
Welcome to the DGIF Falcon Cam!
The DGIF Falcon cam follows the breeding season of a Peregrine Falcon pair that nests in downtown Richmond, Virginia. The nest box is located atop the Riverfront Plaza building. If you are in the area, look up! You may catch a glimpse of the famous birds! We hope each year that the pair will once again choose to nest at this site, so that our camera may provide an educational experience for all to enjoy.
The Falcon Cam is turned on only during the falcons' breeding season, starting on March 1.
Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on the Richmond falcons.
For more information on Peregrine Falcons and their populations in Virginia, please visit our Peregrine Falcon Information Page.
The deceased juvenile female falcon was examined by DGIF’s veterinarian this morning. The young falcon’s injuries suggest that the bird had crashed into something, most likely a building, which is not uncommon for young falcons learning to fly in an urban environment. She also noted that it appeared the bird had been dead for at least two days prior to when it was discovered and retrieved.
As of this writing, as far as we know, the juvenile male is still alive and well. Should we receive any reports of additional sightings or status changes on the juvenile male we will provide an update. Otherwise, this will be the last update of the 2017 Falcon Cam season and the camera will soon be shut down until next year.
Only one of the three hatched birds from this year’s nest remains and that is not the outcome we had hoped for. However, this year saw the pairing of the adult male with not one, but two new females, and a late start to egg-laying as a result. Given these transitions, it is encouraging that the resulting peregrine pair nested successfully. We look forward to next year’s breeding season when we hope for a further increase in nesting success.
A DGIF biologist headed downtown early this morning to check on the two juvenile Peregrine Falcons. Within minutes of his arrival he heard a falcon call and saw a juvenile land on the west tower of the Riverfront Plaza (the building where the Richmond pair nests). The juvenile stayed there for about fifteen minutes before flying again around the Riverfront Plaza towers and out of sight. Simultaneously, he saw another falcon, an adult, flying behind the towers. He then spotted what appeared to be the carcass of a medium-sized bird on the fourth floor roof of the Riverfront Plaza’s breezeway that connects the building’s east and west towers. Our biologist gained access to the roof of the breezeway, and unfortunately, discovered that this dead bird was the female juvenile falcon. He retrieved the falcon and brought it to DGIF’s veterinarian to determine the details of the bird’s death. We will provide an update after our veterinarian has examined the bird.
In the meantime, the juvenile male falcon appears to be flying and landing well and we remain optimistic that he will continue to do so.
Juvenile male Peregrine Falcon perched atop the Williams Mullen building in downtown Richmond (one block north of the Riverfront Plaza building where the nest box is located). Photo by Jessica Ruthenberg.
A small team of DGIF Biologists spent the day, once again, in downtown Richmond tracking down the Richmond Peregrine Falcon family. After following both adults throughout the day and hearing a juvenile calling several times, eventually, late this afternoon, visuals were confirmed of both juvenile falcons. The juvenile male was the first to be spotted as he flew and then landed upon the Williams Mullen building (the building directly north of the Riverfront Plaza/ nest box building), rested there for several minutes, then took off and flew towards the SunTrust Building (another block north, where his mother was perched), but then turned and landed upon the Wells Fargo building (a building adjacent to SunTrust). About ten minutes later, the female juvenile was spotted upon the railing of a tower one block to the east of the Riverfront Plaza building, which was in the same general area where we had been hearing a juvenile falcon calling on several occasions earlier in the day, indicating that she had spent much of the day in this same area.
Juvenile female Peregrine Falcon walking along the railing of a tower one block east of the Riverfront Plaza building (nest box location). Photo by Jessica Ruthenberg.
Although the juvenile falcons are not flying often yet (they had clearly been hunkered down most of the day), we were pleased to see that they were able to fly and obtain heights high enough to land atop buildings. It was also positive that the parents had remained throughout the day in the same general area where both juveniles were observed, showing that the parents were aware of their locations and were keeping an eye on things. Overall, we are very happy to confirm that the juveniles appear to be doing well and are being attended to. Some additional informal monitoring will continue into next week. We hope to see the juveniles begin to start flying more often as they become stronger over these next coming days.
Adult female Peregrine Falcon perched atop the SunTrust building (two blocks to the north of the nest box location at the Riverfront Plaza building). Photo by Jessica Ruthenberg.
Juvenile female Peregrine Falcon. Photo by Sergio Harding.
Juvenile male Peregrine Falcon. Photo by Jessica Ruthenberg.
Both juvenile Peregrine Falcons fledged this morning. DGIF staff were on the ground all afternoon in downtown Richmond to track and monitor the falcon family. The male juvenile was observed throughout the afternoon on the patio area of the fourth floor of the Riverfront Plaza building’s west tower (the building where their nest box is located). The male juvenile was observed sitting near prey items, presumably delivered by his parents. Both adults were observed all afternoon in various locations, including sitting on the SunTrust building sign (a building a couple blocks away from and facing the nest box), on the Riverfront Plaza building’s rooftop arches, and even sitting on top of the nest box itself. We have not yet been able to confirm an observation of the juvenile female, although there have been reports of another falcon being sited in the nearby area (presumably the juvenile female), but we have not yet been able to verify those reports. DGIF staff will continue to monitor the Peregrine Falcons downtown tomorrow.
The pen door opened, inadvertently, sometime this morning between 7:00 – 8:15 am, either on its own or perhaps through the flapping action of one of the chicks (at least one of the birds had been previously observed flying up onto the pen door). Today the chicks are 42 days old. Peregrine Falcons typically fledge the nest between 40-44 days old, therefore at this point, we will not intervene and let the chicks fledge when they are ready to. So far this morning we’ve verified that one of the chicks is still present on the ledge, perched atop the pen, as of this writing. The other chick’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
Since the birds are already out of the pen and the timing of their fledging is unpredictable at this point, we have cancelled the formal Fledge Watch. However, we will monitor the birds on an informal basis until they fledge.
The shadow of one of the Peregrine Falcon chicks, perched atop the pen.
Peregrine Falcon chicks (female on left, male on right)
This year’s Falcon Fledge Watch has been scheduled for Thursday, July 6th. We will remotely open the pen door, by activating the mechanical device previously installed on the pen, sometime between 9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. allowing the young falcons to
exit the pen and take their first flight when they are ready. As in past years, DGIF personnel and volunteers will be present at several vantage points in downtown Richmond to monitor the birds and ensure that their first day on the wing goes well and without incident. A second day of monitoring may take place on Friday, July 7th.
Falcon Cam observers may have noticed that the chicks, now nearly 6 weeks old, are really beginning to look like young falcons. Their brown and buff juvenile plumage has grown in, with only a few scattered traces of down remaining, and they’ve developed the distinctive falcon facial markings. They’ve also been seen occasionally exercising their wings in preparation for their first flights.
Male Peregrine Falcon chick exercising his wings.
Peregrine Falcon chicks on June 23rd (female larger on left, male smaller on right).
Peregrine Falcon chicks (female resting on left, male standing on right).
After what appeared to be an initial adjustment period and learning curve for the new adult female, feedings of the peregrine falcon chicks, by both parents, have continued.
The adult male feeding the chicks bright and early on June 14th.
We are aware of at least four feedings occurring on June 14th (three in the morning and one in the evening) and so far today, as of 11:30 am, there have been at least three feedings observed, two early this morning and another just after 11:00 am. (more…)
Peregrine Falcon Chicks (male on left and female on right). Photo by Jessica Ruthenberg.
DGIF staff paid a visit to the 21st floor of the Riverfront Plaza Building in downtown Richmond to band the Peregrine Falcon chicks. DGIF biologists retrieved the chicks from the building ledge while fending off the circling and protective parents with brooms. Staff observed remains of prey items, including yellow-billed cuckoos and green herons, scattered all over the ledge as well as some whole prey that was cached for later use.
During the banding process, a DGIF biologist weighed the chicks and took measurements of the birds’ wings and tails and used a leg gauge to determine the appropriate band sizes (females are larger than males and take larger bands sizes). It was determined that there is one female chick and one male chick. The female weighed 804 grams (~1 pound 12 ounces) and the male weighed in at 608.1 grams (~1 pound 5 ounces). The chicks appeared healthy and alert and were quite vocal. (more…)
Over the weekend, the falcon chicks began exploring their surroundings. They’ve left the nest box and have been exploring the building ledge, often disappearing off camera, either walking behind the nest box or walking past the camera. Please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see one or more of the chicks; they’ve typically both been reappearing when a parent arrives with food. (more…)
Unfortunately, we’ve received sad news that the small chick, which was removed from the nest on May 31st, has died. Although it had appeared to be doing okay since its removal and was eating, the chick was still losing weight and its blood work showed moderate anemia. For more details, please see WCV’s latest status report.
At the nest box, the other two chicks are progressing well in their development, appear to be healthy, and are being regularly fed by the parents. For more information on their progress and what to expect in the week ahead, please refer to our previous blog article in the nest updates.
A new update, from June 2, is available from the Wildlife Center of Virginia on the small falcon chick that was removed from the nest box on May 31st. http://wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/current-patients/peregrine-falcon-17-1231
Meanwhile, the other two chicks continue to be progressing well. They hatched out on May 17th – 18th, which makes them almost 3 weeks old. At this age, the chicks are no longer being brooded by the parents and with the regular feedings they have received, they have gained considerable weight since hatching. They’ve also developed their second coat of down and have become much more active, often moving about the nest box, stretching their wings, and occasionally preening. You may have noticed the falcon chicks often have a prominent lump at the top of their breasts. This lump is their crop, which is a small pouch in the digestive tract that temporarily stores food before it enters the stomach.
Adult female Peregrine Falcon feeding her two chicks. Chick on the left shows a crop beginning to fill with food as it eats.
As they reach 4 weeks old, the chicks’ activity level will continue to increase; they may even leave the nest box and possibly wander off camera. Please do not be alarmed if they wander off; the chicks will be capable of returning to the box on their own, if they desire to. If the chicks remain out of the nest box, the building ledge provides a place for them to find shelter. At least one parent will always be nearby guarding the chicks and the parents will continue to feed the chicks regularly regardless of where the chicks are located.
In addition to gaining greater mobility, the chicks will start to begin resembling their parents with their flight and body feathers becoming visible through their down. They will also begin standing rather than simply sitting up.
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The small peregrine falcon chick that was removed from the nest box and taken to a local veterinarian on May 31st was transferred that same evening to The Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV). An update on the chick’s status is available on WCV’s website.
DGIF staff took the chick to the veterinarian yesterday due to a combination of factors. Over the past few days it had been observed that the chick was half the size of its two siblings, was unable to sit up or lift its head, and had been underfed in comparison to its siblings. During feedings, the parents had largely been focusing on feeding the chick’s siblings who are already very capable of sitting up, lifting their heads, and are much more mobile, whereas the smaller chick was only receiving an occasional scrap.
We will continue to provide updates on the small chick’s status as they become available.
Over the past few days, it has become apparent that the smaller of the falcon chicks is not doing as well as the others. This afternoon, staff from the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries will be removing this chick from the nest box. The chick will be taken to a local veterinarian for triage. If/ when the veterinarian determines that the chick is in stable condition, it will be transported to The Wildlife Center of Virginia.
Please note: There will be a temporary disruption in the camera stream while our staff are out on the building ledge to retrieve the chick.
All three eggs have hatched. The first hatched at approximately 6:50 pm on Wed, May 17 while the male was on incubation duty. This marks the 37th hatchling sired by this male and the first by this female, who is most likely a first time breeder.
Incubation is well underway for the Richmond Peregrine Falcon pair. We anticipate that their clutch of three eggs will begin hatching sometime between May 15th – 17th.
Male Peregrine Falcon incubating the clutch.
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