Written by Elizabeth Mojica
June 13, 2008
CCB biologists have worked in partnership with the state of Virginia, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and various other partners since the late 1970s to restore and manage peregrine falcons in Virginia. We monitored 21 breeding pairs during the 2008 breeding season.
This year the entire breeding population nested on artificial structures including wooden peregrine towers (12), bridges (5), a fishing shack (1), a ship (1), a power plant stack (1), and a high-rise building (1). The single territory on a natural cliff face in Shenandoah National Park was not active this year.
Twenty pairs made breeding attempts and produced 76 eggs and 47 young that survived to banding age. There was a high depredation rate this year with four broods lost on the towers to raccoons and Great-horned Owls. A new territory was established this year at a nest box on a Dominion power plant stack where a box had been installed several years ago. The pair arrived too late in the season to breed. We also documented a rare occurrence double brooding when the long-established pair on the Berkley Bridge in Norfolk raised two full-grown broods. After CCB biologists removed 2 30-day old chicks in May for hacking in the mountains, the pair moved to a nearby bridge and raised a single-chick brood.
We translocated 28 falcon chicks from coastal nests to hacking sites in Shenandoah National Park, New River Gorge National River, and Breaks Interstate Park. Chicks were removed from dangerous nest structures like bridges where they have a small chance of successfully fledging. The goals of the hacking program are to repopulate the historic breeding range in the southern Appalachians, provide a safe fledging environment, and reduce the impact of nesting peregrines on sensitive species along the coast. The hacking program would not be possible without the continued support of the National Park Service and the state wildlife agencies of both Virginia and West Virginia.