Pen Opening/FledgeWatch Scheduled for Monday!
Pending no inclement weather, we will be opening the pen on Monday, June 13th at which time the chicks will be approximately 45 days old.
Now that they are nearing the six week mark, their white down has been almost entirely lost to fully reveal the chocolatey brown and buff feathers characteristic of 1st year peregrine falcons. They can be regularly seen flapping their wings, sprinting across the gravel, and climbing the sides of the pen. All of these behaviors are good indicators that the birds are just about developmentally ready for fledging.
In conjunction with the pen opening, DWR staff will be stationed downtown on Monday and Tuesday as part of our annual FledgeWatch monitoring to observe the birds during their first days on the wing. At this stage the chicks will have the strength needed to fly, but it can take them several days to perfect their flight and landing skills. By having staff on site during this critical period, we can intervene and get a chick medical attention more quickly in the event of a building collision, grounding, or failed landing attempt.
On Monday morning, the camera will be temporarily turned off while an actuator (the tool used to remotely open the pen) is installed on the pen door. Following the quick installation of this device, we will reconnect the camera and then allow the chicks time to settle before powering the actuator to open the door. Although we cannot guarantee the exact time when this will happen, it will likely occur at some point between 9-10am.
Once the pen door is open, the chicks will be free to leave the pen at their leisure. We will not be able to provide updates on the chicks’ status and whereabouts in real time, however we will provide a post outlining the details of the respective day’s activities on Monday and Tuesday evening, once monitoring efforts have concluded for the day. So, be sure to tune in on Monday to witness our current chick cohort take their first flaps onto their next adventures as the 2022 class of RVA falcon fledglings!