VDOT moves nine Peregrine Falcons from local bridges

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Suffolk, Va. – Workers with VDOT and the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) have relocated nine Peregrine Falcons that were nesting on local bridges, including the I-264 Berkley Bridge, Route 17 James River Bridge and the Route 17 Godwin Bridge.

Each year after nesting season, CCB staff monitors well known nesting sites in order to manage the population of these endangered species.

Most often the falcons nest on area bridges disrupting any scheduled work at these facilities during the nesting period.

According to environmental experts the mortality rate for young falcons is about 60% and birds hatched on bridges tend to have lower survival rates due to the stressful nest site.

Additionally, the falcons are in danger when nests rest atop bridges due to their inability to fly at a young age.

Most relocation methods include “hacking” to reintroduce falcons to the wild. Hacking is the controlled release of young falcons so they can build flying skills and strength prior to their release.

“Every year during nesting season we work with local agencies to safely gather and release hatchlings back into the wild,” said Jack McCambridge, Environmental Manager for VDOT Hampton Roads, “We are more than happy to assist CCB with their yearly conservation efforts.”

The falcons were taken to the Shenandoah Valley and released into the wild where they are believed to be adapting well to the new environment. The Peregrine Falcon was listed as endangered in 1970 under the Endangered Species Conservation Act. Efforts to restore the Peregrine Falcons in Virginia began in 1978.