Richmond Falcon Cam

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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.

Nest Updates

First Egg Laid!

Late this morning the female Peregrine Falcon laid her first egg of the season! The egg is resting at the bottom of the scrape, which is relatively deep and closely positioned to the front edge of the nest box, so it has been difficult to get good looks at it.  However, a subtle glimpse of the egg could be seen early this afternoon when the male took his first turn sitting upon it. It was seen again later during some other sitting transitions between the female and male and when they both took a break from sitting for a bit late in the afternoon.

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The Cam is Back Online and Now Live Streaming!

DGIF is proud to present the Richmond Falcon Cam in live stream. The Cam will now display a live broadcast as opposed to refreshing a still image every 3 seconds as it had in years past. We are very excited about this update to the Cam and hope you will enjoy the enhanced viewing experience that the live streaming provides.  (more…)

Falcon Activity Resumes at the Nest Box!

Welcome to another year of the Richmond Falcon Cam!

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Male peregrine falcon perched on building parapet.

DGIF staff redeployed the nest box and camera to the ledge of the Riverfront Plaza building on February 18th after confirming that all ledge work has been completed. (You may notice in the photo above that the ledge has been repaved and has new flashing on the walls.) Although the birds themselves were not spotted by our staff while they were out on the building ledge,  we did

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Female peregrine falcon standing in the scrape.

observe the pair on-camera a few times this week as well as a scrape in the nest box. (A scrape is a shallow depression that falcons make in gravel or other substrate for nesting purposes.) Yesterday afternoon, the female was even observed standing in the scrape for an extended period of time; a sign that she may once again select this nest box as her nesting site!

Click the link below to watch a video, in which the falcon pair makes a dramatic entrance into the nest box.

Falcons Make A Dramatic Entrance to the Nest Box

A Note About the Camera Feed:

We apologize for the lack of live video on the Richmond Falcon Cam Blog. We’ve been experiencing some technical difficulties with the camera’s connection to our website and are therefore unable to provide live public viewing of the falcons at this time. In the meantime, DGIF staff are still able to use the camera for  monitoring purposes and will continue to monitor the falcons and share video, photos, and news of their activities on the blog as in years past. Despite these technical difficulties, we hope that you will continue to follow our blog and join us for another breeding season in the lives of the Richmond Falcons.

Falcon Cam Temporarily Off-line

This morning the Falcon Cam camera and nest box were temporarily removed from the roof of the Riverfront Plaza building in order to clear the way for a roofing project.

When DGIF staff first arrived on the roof, the female falcon made her presence known with a couple of fly-bys and some light swoops. Half a minute later she appeared to lose interest and perched on the sign of a nearby building. She remained there throughout the removal process.

If you’ve checked in on the Falcon Cam recently, you may have noticed that the McGuire Woods sign, a frequent perching site of the falcon pair, has been removed from the building across the street from the nest box. The sign was removed because the firm is moving to another location.

The Falcon Cam will remain off-line until the Riverfront Plaza building’s roofing project is fully completed.

Update: Juvenile Spotted on News Camera

The juvenile peregrine falcon made his way back  into the spotlight on Sunday when he was caught on camera during 12 News Today. For more on this story, including a photo and video of the juvenile please visit the NBC 12 News website.

 

Fledge Watch Update – Day 2

Fledge Watch resumed this morning at 8:00 am on yet another extremely hot day in downtown Richmond. Everything went smoothly for the juvenile during the monitoring; he had some very nice long flights and eventually some nice landings were also observed.

The juvenile falcon was first spotted at 8:15 am, still on the roof of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. He was perched atop a ventilation shaft and was flapping his wings. DGIF staff observed his first flight of the day at 9:41 am, which was just a brief circle above the hotel.  A few minutes later this was followed by another circle of the hotel, which was further out from the perimeter and with some soaring. He continued to soar and circle a couple more times before landing on the roof of the Dominion building (One James River Plaza). This particular landing did not look great, but his landings  improved throughout the morning. A couple additional short circling flights were observed, including one to a nearby building (McGuire Woods).

At  10:01 am the juvenile and an adult took to the air. The juvenile was following the adult and vocalizing a lot. Eventually, after drafting behind the adult for quite a while, the juvenile landed on the ledge of the Riverfront Plaza Building (the same building where the nest box is located) with a nice, clean landing. The adult he had been flying with also landed on this building with a prey item, which was plucked and then left on top of the building’s BB&T sign. The juvenile flew up from the ledge to the sign and ate the prey item.

The juvenile’s most impressive flight of the day began at 10:46 am when he took off from the BB&T sign and caught an updraft; he circled and soared for several minutes gaining more and more altitude. After about 10 minutes, he had gained so much altitude that he appeared to be just a pinpoint in the sky. Eventually, the juvenile descended and landed on top of the Federal Reserve building. After resting there for about six minutes, the juvenile flew again, this time accompanied by the adult male. They flew for a few minutes and then landed on the south side of the SunTrust Building. This was the last flight observed during today’s monitoring, which wrapped up at noon and marked the conclusion of Fledge Watch 2015.

DGIF staff were pleased with the juvenile’s strong flights and improved landings as well as the attentiveness of the parents. The young falcon will remain in the downtown Richmond area for the next several weeks, so it is possible that we may receive additional reports on his progress and will post any items of interest.

A big thank you to this year’s 8 dedicated Fledge Watch volunteers who stuck it out in the extreme heat! Your time and spotting skills were a huge help and are much appreciated. We hope to see you next year!

Fledge Watch Update – Day 1

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Juvenile looking out over the building ledge just after exiting the pen.

The juvenile successfully took his first flight on this very hot day in downtown Richmond! The pen door was opened remotely at 9:50 am this morning, but the chick did not exit the pen for another 33 minutes, at which time, he briefly explored the space and then settled into a nap.  He woke up at 11:37 am and shortly thereafter jumped up onto the building ledge and vigorously flapped his wings. At 11:40 am he took his flight accompanied by the adult male who flew with him.

Unfortunately, moments later the juvenile attempted to land on the side of the Williams Mullen building (located directly across the street from the nesting site at Riverfront Plaza), but without an actual ledge to land on, he knocked into the windows of the building and fell towards the parking garage below. He did land on the top level of the garage briefly, but then he dove down inside of it. DGIF staff embarked on a thorough search of the parking garage, inside and out in attempt to locate the juvenile, should it need assistance. In the midst of the search, around 12:00 pm, another DGIF staff member spotted the juvenile flying west towards the Federal Reserve. Twelve minutes later the juvenile was observed flying further west towards the MeadWestvaco building. The juvenile was next seen in the air at 12:22 pm, flying northeast towards the Dominion Building (One James River Plaza) and then back southwest towards the Crowne Plaza Hotel. He then remained out of sight for the next few hours, during which time DGIF staff and volunteers tracked the whereabouts of the parents while trying to locate the juvenile.

The juvenile was finally spotted again at 5:25 pm, atop the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where he presumably had been resting out of sight for the last few hours. He was observed to be alert, preening, and flapping his wings, all of which are positive signs that he was in good health. More good news was observed at 7:09 pm; the adult male stopped by the roof of the Crowne Plaza Hotel and fed the juvenile.

Fledge Watch 2015 will continue tomorrow morning. DGIF staff and volunteers will again strategically locate themselves throughout downtown Richmond to keep an eye on the juvenile during its second day on the wing.

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Juvenile male prior to the remote opening of the pen door.

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Juvenile settling in for a nap after exiting the pen.

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Adult female prior to the remote opening of the pen door.

Dates Set for Fledge Watch 2015

This year’s Falcon Fledge Watch has been scheduled for Monday, June 15th.  We will remotely activate the mechanical door-opening device on the pen sometime between 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. allowing the young falcon to exit the pen and take his first flight when he is ready.  As in past years, DGIF personnel and volunteers will be present at numerous vantage points in downtown Richmond to monitor the bird and ensure that his first day on the wing goes well and without incident.  A second day of monitoring may take place on Tuesday, June 16th.

Falcon Cam observers may have noticed that the chick is really beginning to look like a young falcon now. His handsome brown and buff juvenile plumage has grown in, almost entirely, with only a few scattered traces of down remaining. He has also been seen vigorously exercising his wings in preparation for his first flight.

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Juvenile Peregrine Falcon exercises his wings while taking shelter from the rain.

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Juvenile with adult female, earlier this week.

30 Days Old and Growing Up

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Male peregrine falcon chick at 30 days old.

Today the peregrine falcon chick is 30 days old and is beginning to show signs of growing up. As in previous years, the adult falcons have been continuing their feedings of their chick by passing bits of prey through the front of the pen. In the last couple of days they also have begun handing off large pieces of prey to the chick for him to tear apart and eat on his own, which he has been successful at. Yesterday he was observed stretching and flapping his wings out in front of the nest box. These early wing flappings help young peregrine falcons to shed their down. The chick’s feathers have continued to grow in and we can now see some of the distinctive peregrine falcon facial markings beginning to appear on his face. Over the next several days he will continue to show more juvenile plumage and the frequency of his wing flapping and activity outside of the nest box will continue to increase.

 

It’s A Boy!

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Male peregrine falcon chick at 27 days old, just after he was banded.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) biologists successfully banded the falcon chick today and identified it as a male, weighing in at 625 grams (approximately 1 1/3 pounds). His band numbers are 1126-11921 (green USGS federal band) and 99/AS (black over green auxiliary band). The chick was judged to be in good health during the banding. The biologists also nearly captured the adult female in hopes of banding her as well; although they briefly had her in their net as she perched on top of the Falcon Cam stand, she ducked down and out of the net in the one spot where it was unable to touch the ground.

While the chick was being banded, a second team of VDGIF biologists assembled the pen outside of the nest box and filled it with the same type of gravel substrate as that inside the nest box. The pen functions as a tool to prevent the chick from fledging prematurely, an incident which has occurred at this nest site in the past. A wooden plank was strapped to the top of the pen in order to provide shade for the chick when he explores the area outside of the nest box. The mechanical device strapped to the front of the pen will eventually be used to remotely open the pen door when it comes time for the chick to fledge.

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Male peregrine falcon chick, prior to being banded.

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Banding tools.

Banding Scheduled for Tuesday, May 26th

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) biologists plan to visit the Riverfront Plaza building and band the peregrine falcon chick on Tuesday, May 26th. On this day the chick will be 27 days old.  During the banding process the biologists will access the building ledge and gather the chick, who will then be weighed, measured, and fitted with two aluminum bands. The purpose of the banding is to provide future data about where this peregrine falcon travels and hopefully establishes its own breeding territory.

During this same visit, the VDGIF biologists plan to assemble and attach a pen to the nest box. This pen is set up in order to prevent premature fledging by the falcon chick before its wings are strong enough to take its first flight; early flights have occurred at this nest in the past, resulting in chicks being grounded on busy city streets where, unable to fly, they are highly vulnerable to vehicular traffic. The pen door will be opened on a future date when the chick has had plenty of time to fully develop. On this date, VDGIF staff will open the door remotely, allowing the young falcon to exit and fledge when it is ready. Additional staff and volunteers will be positioned on the ground to track the falcon’s movements and to ensure that assistance is available, in the event the bird should run into any trouble.  This method has been used successfully at this site in past years.

Please note that this pen will provide the chick with plenty of room to exercise its wings and will not interfere with the parents’ ability to feed it. In past years, the parents have simply fed their chicks through the pen. They have also passed any larger prey portions through the bars, giving the young falcons practice at tearing their own food.

Below are photos of the peregrine falcon chick at 22 days old on this rainy day in Richmond. At this age, brooding has usually ceased, which appears to be the case for this chick, and the female is spending more time away from the nest. The chick’s wing and tail feathers are coming in well, as can be observed in the photos.

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Out of the Box!

The peregrine falcon chick ventured out of the nest box late yesterday afternoon!

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The peregrine falcon chick’s first venture out of the nest box.

As the chick continues to grow it will continue to be more and more active and may leave the box, as it did yesterday. The chick did eventually return to the box, but even if it were not to return, there is no cause for alarm. The parents will still guard and feed the chick and the building ledge provides opportunities for the chick to find shelter from the elements.

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Male peregrine falcon keeping watch over the chick.

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The falcon chick earlier yesterday afternoon, at 19 days old.

2 Weeks Old

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Peregrine falcon chick at 2 weeks old.

Today the falcon chick is 2 weeks old. Over the last week we have observed that the chick has grown its second coat of down and been brooded less and less. Although much of its day is still spent sleeping, the chick has become more active: it’s been seen stretching its legs and wings,  preening, and moving about the nest box. The chick’s bill and feet also appear to be developing well. In the coming weeks, the falcon chick will develop its wing and tail quill feathers and its wing flapping ability will strengthen.

A note about the unhatched eggs:

You may have noticed that only one of the unhatched eggs remains in the nest. Late in the evening on May 11ththe female falcon was observed eating one of the mottled eggs in its entirety. Presumably, this is also what happened to the unhatched brown egg which was first observed to be missing on May 6th.  Normally, unhatched peregrine falcon eggs will remain in the nest or are eventually crushed and broken into pieces. However, sometimes the adults do eat them, as was observed in this particular instance.

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2-week-old peregrine falcon chick stretching its wings.

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2-week-old peregrine falcon chick walking about the nest box.

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2-week-old peregrine falcon chick, just after a feeding, with a full crop. (A bird’s crop is a pouch in its digestive tract that temporarily stores food before it enters the stomach.)

5 Days Old

Today the peregrine falcon chick is 5 days old and appears to be developing on schedule. Five days after hatch the chick looks to have doubled in size, is sitting up relatively well, and its open eyes have become more rounded. As is usual for very young chicks, it has been spending much of its time dozing and sleeping.

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Female falcon shelters five day old chick under her wing

At this point, it is unlikely that any of the remaining 3 eggs will hatch. It has been over 120 hours since the first hatching. A typical 4 egg clutch usually hatches synchronously (within 24-48 hours). Although hatches taking up to 8 days have been observed in peregrine falcons, the status of the remaining 3 eggs in this clutch suggests that another hatch will not occur.

Over the next few days the falcon chick should begin to start growing a second coat of down. Brooding and feeding of the chick will continue to be done predominantly by the female falcon, though  the male has begun to take a role in some of the  feeding as seen  in the beginning of the video below.

First Feeding of the First Chick

The female falcon provided the chick its first feeding late this morning, beginning at 11:35 am.  Video footage of the feeding is below, along with some additional photos.

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Female sitting on the first chick and remaining eggs.

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Female (left) and male (right) with their chick shortly before its first feeding.

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Male keeping watch of the chick, while the female obtains food for its feeding.

 

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