Wild & Free

An article taken from Wild & Free, the newsletter from Wildlife Haven - Winter of 1997

Expect the Unexpected.........

Early one morning in October, I received a call from a man who lives near Bucyrus. His home is in a rural area, among a group of ranch-type homes. He had awoken to find a bird sitting on his front porch, he though it was a hawk or a falcon but wasn't sure. All he knew was that it had an injured wing; he could see that the wing was hanging oddly and there was also some bleeding.

I grabbed my net, gloves and carrier and headed out. Imagine my surprise when I got there to find the hawk sitting on the porch, on the back of a lounge chair........ and it was a Peregrine Falcon. At first I though I must be mistaken, but after getting home and referring to my books there was no doubt at all.

An immature male, the bird was unbanded. Peregrines are endangered and most young in known nests are banded. It seems likely that this fellow was born up in the Arctic and during migration ran afoul of something he never had to contend with when he was living on his home ground and learning to fly - - - power lines.

Peregrines fly at extremely high speed, when diving in mid-air to catch prey they are known to reach speeds of up to 200mph. He had probably hit a powerline in the dark and the blow had caused a severe fracture to the metacarpal area of his right wing. This is comparable to the hand/wrist area of a person. There was also lots of soft tissue damage to the area, resulting in damage to the blood supply and nerve endings.

I was leaving the next day for a conference in California, so had to make very quick arrangements for the care of this bird. After stabilizing him, we transferred him to the Ohio Wildlife Center in Columbus, and the next day he was flown to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, to the best avian veterinarians in the country. This is the facility where most of the injured endangered birds are taken for treatment.

We have not had a report back yet on the bird's condition or what the outcome is likely to be. Hopefully he will be able to be released, but the injury was quite severe and the area that was injured is quite crucial to flight control. If he is not a candidate for release he will probably end up either in a captive breeding program or, more likely, as an educational "ambassador" from the wild.

I never thought I would have the opportunity to hold a Peregrine Falcon in my hands...... I wish the circumstances had been different. We did all we could for him and I can only hope that this bird will be lucky enough to be returned to the life he was born to - a life flying free in the wild.

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