Banding of Red-cockaded Woodpecker Nestlings at Big Woods Wildlife Management Area – On Friday, May 14, the DWR Executive Director, a Deputy Director, a Regional Manager and staffs from the Wildlife Resources and Outreach Divisions were present for the banding of two nestlings of the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker at Big Woods Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Sussex County. Banding was conducted by a biologist with the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary (CCB), who is specially trained to handle the woodpeckers given their federal listing status. The DWR and CCB have a long-standing partnership on the conservation of this species in Virginia. This is the third set of nestlings produced on Big Woods in as many years, and a testament to the continued benefits of management of the WMA’s habitat as open pine savanna for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and many other wildlife species. The nestlings are expected to fledge from their nest shortly after Memorial Day.
Richmond Peregrine Falcon Video – On Friday, June 11, personnel from the Wildlife Resources and Outreach Divisions hosted a Facebook Premiere event on the DWR Facebook page featuring a video of the banding of four Peregrine Falcon chicks at the Riverfront Plaza West Tower in downtown Richmond. The video also touches on DWR’s Peregrine Falcon conservation work, and gives background information on the current Richmond breeding pair and on why we band the chicks of this state Threatened species. There were 70 peak live viewers during the event, and staffs answered viewer questions in real time via Facebook’s comments feature. The video is still viewable on Facebook; it has accumulated 6,700 views since its premiere and been shared by various entities (including NBC12). The video can also be viewed on YouTube, where to date it has accumulated ~670 views (though it was only just promoted on June 14).
Richmond Fledgewatch – on Wed, June 23, personnel from multiple DWR divisions, along with a volunteer, participated in a Fledgewatch event focused on four peregrine falcon chicks atop the Riverfront Plaza West Tower in downtown Richmond. The young birds were penned in their nest box when they were banded on June 3 in order to prevent them from accidentally coming off the building and being struck by traffic before being able to fly. On Fledgewatch day the pen door was opened remotely, permitting the birds to take their first flights at their leisure. DWR personnel were positioned in various areas of downtown to track the birds so as to ensure that they did not become injured or grounded. All four birds were observed flying and landing, although one bird struck a building. That bird was transported to a wildlife vet and from there to the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV). DWR personnel continued tracking the juveniles falcons on June 24, with all birds once again observed flying and interacting with their parents. On June 28, the juvenile falcon that had struck a building was received back from WCV in good health and released by DWR personnel into its nest box. In order to protect its tail feathers during transport, the bird had been outfitted by WCV with a plastic tail guard. This should have been removed prior to the bird’s release, but, in our efforts to minimize our handling of the bird, DWR personnel did not become aware of the guard until after. Despite the presence of the guard, the bird was observed flying, landing and interacting with its parents as expected. The guard should come off on its own over the next few days, and DWR personnel will continue monitoring the bird to verify that it does.
Habitat restoration project at the James River WMA – On June 24 the first phase of an approximately 50 acre habitat restoration project began at the James River WMA with the aerial spraying of autumn olive, which encompasses the largest area of the project site. This is an invasive plant species that outcompetes other native vegetation. The goal is to eventually restore this area to a native grasses/wildflower, early successional habitat. Later this summer the area will also be hand treated to remove the invasive plants from an oak understory that is within the project area. This is a multiple year project that is being conducted in partnership with the Devil’s Backbone Brewery.
NWTF State Awards Banquet: DWR Director Ryan Brown and representatives from the Wildlife Division attended the NWTF annual state awards banquet on Saturday, June 26th in Roanoke, VA. WMA Supervisor (Big Woods work area), Matt Kline received the Andrew Huffman NWTF Manager of the Year Award at the banquet. Matt was recognized for his ongoing work and partnership with the NWTF on several large Superfund and other habitat projects at Big Woods WMA. Marc Puckett (Small Game Project Leader) submitted the nomination for Matt Kline and was also recognized by Matt and the NWTF for his dedication to the Big Woods projects!