VDOT carefully removes Cliff Swallows from the Chatham Bridge
Before the Chatham Bridge closed to traffic for a major improvement project, VDOT needed to relocate some very important residents — cliff swallows.
Cliff swallows nest in the concrete niches under the Chatham Bridge. For the safety of the nestlings, who cannot yet fly, VDOT environmental specialists Mark Haus and Stephen Sharpeta removed 100 cliff swallows and 9 eggs from 42 nests on the bridge over the Rappahannock River on Friday, June 19.
The relocation was carefully planned in coordination with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which issued a permit for the operation. Using a snooper truck, which can extend a mechanical arm and basket under the bridge for work crews, the birds were carefully retrieved from the nests by hand, one by one.
The birds were then immediately driven to The Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, where they will be cared for until they can be returned to the wild.
Later this week, freshwater mussels will be relocated from the Rappahannock River before construction of the causeway begins in the river. The mussel relocation is another part of the agency’s project commitment to state and federal environmental agencies.
Chatham Bridge connects Stafford County and downtown Fredericksburg, and closed to traffic on Monday, June 22. The bridge will reopen in October 2021. Learn more about the project at virginiadot.org/chathambridge. Thank you to project contractor Joseph B. Fay Co. for assisting with the cliff swallows retrieval effort.
Photos courtesy VDOT-Fredericksburg