Peregrine Falcon #21-2079

June 24, 2021
June 28, 2021
Rescue Location
Richmond, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Collision with building
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On the evening of June 24 the Wildlife Center admitted female fledgling Peregrine Falcon #21-2079, one of the four falcon chicks that hatched on cam in downtown Richmond in May 2021 identified by a yellow band on its right leg. On June 23, the four birds fledged from their roost; Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources technicians and volunteers with “FledgeWatch” observed remotely as the birds took their first flights.

That same morning, Peregrine Falcon #21-2079 flew directly into the western side of the Dominion Energy building in downtown Richmond, and was later located in a bush at the base of the structure. The bird was rescued and taken to Wellsley Animal Hospital, where an initial exam was performed by their team of veterinarians. No significant wounds were found, but based on the circumstance of rescue, the staff were concerned about the possibility of injury to the bird’s left eye. The falcon was transported to the Wildlife Center the following day.

Dr. Cam, the Center’s Veterinary Intern, performed an in-depth physical examination when the falcon arrived. The bird was found to be bright, alert, responsive, and in fair body condition with no signs of dehydration or external injuries present. The veterinary staff performed a series of radiographs and an emergency in-house blood panel and lead toxicity test, both of which were within normal limits.

A comprehensive ophthalamic exam was performed, which did not indicate any signs of retinal tearing, trauma, or inflammation to either of the falcon’s eyes. Regardless, Center staff selected to administer anti-inflammatories and topical eye medication as a precautionary measure, as Peregrine Falcons rely heavily on nearly perfect vision while hunting. The falcon was placed in the Center’s indoor Hold area overnight.

The following morning, Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Karra performed a secondary ophthalamic exam, reconfirming that no significant injuries to the bird’s eyes were present. She also noted the falcon had no difficulties tracking movements with both eyes, and showed clear signs of being completely visual.

Overall, the Center’s veterinary staff concluded that the fledgling is quite healthy. With no major medical or rehabilitative treatments needed at this time, returning this falcon to the wild is a priority. The current plan is for the fledgling to remain at the Center under the observation of the veterinary staff until June 28. On that day, the bird will hopefully be transported back to Richmond and released in an area near the site of its original rescue.

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Patient Updates

During the past weekend, the Center’s veterinary staff monitored Peregrine Falcon #21-2079’s status closely. In addition to observing the bird’s attitude, appetite, hydration, and overall condition during daily examinations, a repeat ocular exam was performed on June 27. After no remarkable findings were revealed, a flight test was performed in one of the Center’s outdoor Flight Pens — Dr. Karra reported that the falcon displayed proper form and physical stamina during the testing, and cleared this fledgling for release. After sharing these results with a Virginia DWR biologist, re-nesting the bird in the wild became a top priority.

Early in the morning on June 28, the falcon was transported from the Center back to downtown Richmond. After transferring the bird to a transitional crate, DWR staff placed the falcon in the Riverfront Plaza nest box at approximately 8:45 a.m., the site where the falcon originally fledged. The release team then quickly left the area in an effort to minimize human contact and the fledgling’s level of stress. The fledgling’s parents, still exhibiting territorial behavior during this phase of rearing, had already appeared in the area at this time.

Within minutes, a volunteer noticed that the falcon’s tail guard — a plastic sleeve secured to raptors' tail feathers with masking tape designed to prevent damage during treatments and crating — was not removed prior to the bird leaving the nest box. DWR staff had not observed the guard due to their efforts to minimize handling of the bird. Despite the restricted range of maneuverability in the bird’s tail feathers, observers noted that the fledgling was able to fly and perch without much relative difficulty, and was quickly joined by the adult falcons nearby.

After consulting with the Wildlife Center, it was determined that the best course of action would be to observe the falcon during the coming days and wait for the tail guard to fall off naturally rather than attempting to recapture the bird. Despite this temporary inconvenience, the fledgling’s successful ability to fly and perch, combined with parental care from the adult falcons it will continue to receive during this phase of its life, are encouraging signs that no negative long-term effects will prevent this falcon from thriving in the wild.

For more information and continued updates on this Peregrine Falcon, visit DWR’s official Richmond Falcon Cam website.