Peregrine Falcon #17-1244

Admission Date: 
June 1, 2017
Release Date: 
June 28, 2017
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Fell from nest; fractured keel
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On June 1, a young Peregrine Falcon was found on the ground at the Dominion Energy Possum Point Power Station in Prince William County. This spot is a well-known nesting spot for Peregrine Falcons; the nest there has been monitored by the Center for Conservation Biology for years.  Last year, the Wildlife Center admitted a young falcon from this same nest.  

When a power plant worker found the falcon, the young bird was unable to fly -- perhaps an early fledge. The bird was transported to the Wildlife Center and examined by Dr. Ernesto, the Center's hospital director. The bird was bright and alert, but Dr. Ernesto soon found a keel fracture on physical exam, which was confirmed on radiographs. The bird also had signs of internal trauma, including fluid in the coelom [body cavity] and increased lung and air sac opacity. Dr. Ernesto was also able to hear "crackles" in the lungs.

The bird was given fluids and pain meds and set up in a crate in the Center's holding room. Within three days, the lung sounds were within normal limits; with supportive care, birds can recover quickly from damaged or ruptured air sacs. The falcon is eating well; the veterinary team will continue to monitor the bird in the days ahead.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this injured Peregrine Falcon during its stay at the hospital.


June 29, 2017

A biologist at Shenandoah National Park reported that the Peregrine Falcon was successfully released at the hack site within the park on Wednesday, June 28. The bird was gradually released -- the cardboard transport box was partially opened, and the bird came out after about 30 minutes, and hopped around on the rocks. Within a few minutes, she flew around the hacksite in a big semi-circle, and then headed to a southern wooded ridge about three-quarters of a mile away.

About two hours later, the bird was sighted again; she returned and landed at the supplemental feeding board and ate an entire quail. The following morning, the falcon was seen feeding again at the hacksite.

June 28, 2017

Peregrine Falcon #17-1244 healed well in the weeks following her admission, and on June 18, was moved to a larger flight pen. The bird ate well and put on weight.

Due to the length of recovery required from the keel fracture, the falcon missed the opportunities to be hacked out in Shenandoah National Park. Several birds were placed in hack boxes earlier in the season during their "pre-flight" stage. Center staff were faced with a long-term complete rehabilitation of the falcon, which can be challenging -- it's difficult to fully exercise and condition a young Peregrine Falcon. Fortunately, after additional consideration, biologists with the Center for Conservation Biology suggested a soft release at one of the hack sites in Shenandoah National Park; the young falcon would join other falcons before they dispersed. Biologists are planning to provide back-up feeding to the young birds through the first week of July.

On June 28, a volunteer transporter picked up the falcon and drove it to the falcon site within the park. Biologists will add a piece of colored tape to the falcon's band so they are able to identify the bird post-release.

June 9, 2017

Peregrine Falcon #17-1244 has been healing quietly since its admission. Earlier this week, the veterinary team evaluated the falcon's flight capabilities; due to the keel fracture, the bird did not attempt to fly. The bird has been resting in a crate to allow time for the keel fracture to heal. On June 9, Dr. Ernesto took additional radiographs to check on the fracture; the keel appears to be healing well, and the bird was moved to an outdoor enclosure.

The Wildlife Center has been in touch with biologists with the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB). The CCB often "hacks out" young falcons at Shenandoah National Park; this young falcon might still be hacked out, though it depends on how quickly the falcon recovers from its keel fracture.