Code

CCBTR-16-12

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) was believed to be extirpated as a breeding species in Virginia by the early 1960s. An aggressive restoration program was initiated in 1978 that included the release of 115 captive-reared birds on the Coastal Plain (1978-1985) and 127 birds in the mountains (1985-1993). This program resulted in the first breeding of the modern era in 1982. Since this time, the population has proceeded through a rapid establishment phase followed by a consolidation phase. However, more than 95% of all breeding activity over the past 30 years has occurred on the Coastal Plain with very limited breeding within the historic mountain range. Since 2000 a dedicated translocation program has moved more than 250 birds from eyries on the coast to hack sites in the mountains in an effort to restore the mountain breeding population. Restoration of the breeding population in the mountains continues to be a management priority for the state. In 2016, Virginia supported a known falcon population of 31 breeding pairs including 28 within the Coastal Plain, 1 in the Piedmont and 2 in the mountains. This represents the largest population ever recorded in the state and the fourth consecutive year that the population has exceeded 25 breeding pairs. New breeding territories were documented on a building in Virginia Beach and a bridge in Norfolk. 2016 was a difficult breeding year with only 49 (57%) of 85 eggs hatching and several late breeding attempts. The reproductive rate (1.58 young/occupied territory) was considerably lower than in recent years. The population continues to benefit from the efforts of a large community of agencies, corporations and individuals. Efforts continued in 2016 to identify breeding adults via field-readable bands to better understand dispersal and demography throughout the mid-Atlantic region. The banding status of 45 (71%) of the 63 adult peregrines known within the breeding population was determined. Twelve (26%) of the 45 birds were unbanded. The level of unbanded birds suggests the possibility of unknown eyries within Virginia or surrounding states. Of the banded birds where state of origin could be determined, 20 were from VA, 6 from NJ and 2 from MD. The alpha-numerics were read for 29 adults and of these the USGS bands have been recorded for 27. The natal territories were determined for 24 adults. Birds ranged in age from 1 to 16 years old. Efforts to identify marked peregrines should continue since these birds are contributing to our understanding of effective population size and regional management. Bands for 12 additional falcons were read and reported over the past year. Six of these birds originated in Virginia and were found breeding in other states including a male and female in Pennsylvania and 4 females in New Jersey. Three birds were captured during fall trapping operations on Assateague and Cape May Point. A first-year bird male was found dead and a first-year female was photographed multiple times on Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. A first-year female was found injured near Topton, PA and rehabbed over several months and released.

Topic

Abundance/distribution;Breeding/Demography/Population Dynamics;Banding

Species

Peregrine Falcon

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