The story of Reston Town Center’s peregrine falcons started in June 2015 when two chicks were found on Market Street.
The pair was taken to the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, where they were rehabilitated and released, Steve Potts, a raptor biologist who monitors the falcons, told Reston Now.
“That was the first indicator that we had nesting peregrine falcons in Reston Town Center,” he said. Fast forward to 2019, and the birds are still calling Reston home.
“This is our fifth year of breeding and that’s a really high rate of having chicks,” Potts said.
While most peregrine falcons used to live near coastal plains, Bryan Watts, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology in Williamsburg, Va., told Reston Now that he has seen more move inland recently as bridges, buildings and towers mimic cliff faces overlooking a wide vista of landscape for hunting and have updrafts for flying.
“They are one of the most spectacular bird species we have on the planet,” Watts said.
Here are some peregrine falcon fun facts Potts and Watts shared:
- wild peregrine falcons can live up to about 18 years of age
- females are larger in size than the males
- eggs are usually a brick red color and about the size of a small chicken egg
- chicks fly for the first time at about 42-45 days
- juvenile peregrine falcons wander and the chicks from the RTC pair may go up to Canada to the Gulf Coast
“The pair up there is incredibly productive,” Watts said. “The hope is that they will be there for a long time.”
Potts said that he saw four eggs in the nest earlier this week. (Reston Now isn’t divulging where the nest is to protect the falcons.)
“It’s in a really remote little spot,” Potts said. “It’s a perfect spot hidden from the rain and sun, and it faces south.”
About 20 days after the chicks are born, Potts plans to return to help band them, which will take place sometime in May.
While Potts said that some people are against banding birds, he argues that annual medical exams made possible by the banding help keep the birds healthy and also allow birders and conservationists to track nest changeover.
The parents — both around 7 years old — have been identified. The dad hails from Maryland while the mom came from Pennsylvania. Reston Now readers will get the chance to name the pair.
Between now and next Friday (April 19), comment below this story and on the Reston Now social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) your name suggestions. On Monday, April 22, readers will be able to vote for the two names out a list of the most upvoted and liked suggested names.
The winning names for the mom and dad falcons will get announced at the end of April.
Photo courtesy Boston Properties