A feathery recovery

Posted on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 10:37 am

Two peregrine falcon chicks were recovered from the Robert O. Norris Bridge last weekend.

Two peregrine falcon chicks were recovered from the Robert O. Norris Bridge last weekend.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) worked with The Center for Conservation Biology and The College of William & Mary/Virginia Commonwealth University on Friday to retrieve two peregrine falcon chicks from their nest on the underside of the Robert O. Norris Bridge.
The objective was to relocate the birds to a safer location before they attempt to fly, which would have been risky at the bridge site according to Robert E. Pickett, the Fredericksburg District Environmental Manager for VDOT.
The project was led by Libby Mojica, a Research Biologist from The Center for Conservation Biology.  VDOT used a “snooper” rig for this operation, which is an inverted type of personnel lift rig normally used to inspect the bridge, for the purpose of extracting the young falcons from their nest on the underside of the bridge.

After the chicks were successfully extracted from the bridge and delivered to the parking lot at the south end, they were banded, weighed, measured, and had blood drawn (for DNA testing).  The first falcon to be tended to was the female who weighed in at approximately 2.0 lbs; then the male at about 1.8 lbs.  The female is typically larger than the male, said Mojica, who estimated that the chicks were about 30 days old with the male appearing to be a few days younger.
Mojica explained that the peregrine falcons are classified as a “threatened species.” She added that there are about 25 breeding pairs in Virginia and nesting has been ongoing at this site for about 15 years.  The falcons will be transported directly to Shenandoah National Park where they will be held and cared for in a protective enclosure for about ten to 15 days until they are able to fly and then they will be released.
Peregrine falcons have been sighted, in recent years, in Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina.

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