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Richmond Falcon Cam

Young Richmond falcon does not survive collision with building

  • June 20th, 2011

The story of the young Richmond peregrine falcon has unfortunately come to a premature end as the bird died from injuries resulting from a collision with a downtown building.

The young falcon was last seen on the Falcon Cam this morning at around 7:40.  At 10:20, a DWR biologist spotted the bird on a window ledge directly below the nest box on the Riverfront Plaza West Tower, approximately 15 ft below the box.  Both adults were seen repeatedly circling the building in flight in an effort to encourage the young bird to fly.  At 11:20, a flash of light from behind the window where the juvenile was perched spooked her off the window ledge.  The bird took a strong, level flight northward, accompanied by her mother, and disappeared from sight behind a building. 

The DWR biologist was joined downtown by a dedicated volunteer at around noon.  Before long, the volunteer spotted the young falcon perched on a building to the NE of the Riverfront Plaza towers.  Following a brief preening session, the bird took a short flight and then circled back.  It skittered some 20 ft down the glass facade of a nearby building, but was able to regain altitude.  Unfortunately it then flew headlong into another glass building, the James River Tower Three, dropping straight down.

The young falcon was retrieved from the rooftop of an abutting building, where it landed approximately 10 stories below the collision point.  The DWR veterinarian arrived on the scene and confirmed that the bird was dead, citing head trauma from the collision as the cause and stating that the falcon likely died immediately upon impact with the building.

This unfortunate event represents the worst possible outcome that could be expected from this much anticipated fledging event, and underscores the need to monitor the progress that young urban falcons make as they leave the nest.  We would like to thank all of the volunteers who have participated in the Fledge Watch this year, as well as all those folks who have followed the young falcon’s progress.