Falcon’s Freedom Flight

Falcon not the one I saw today! — Photo courtesy Quentin Dr. Unsplash.com

Today, while I was out walking our dog in a nearby park, I witnessed a wonderful thing.

I saw a small group of people milling around with what looked like some sort of animal container. They placed the container on the grass and most of them stood back nervously — I imagined some wild animal in it that they were releasing.

One gentleman seemed to be gingerly fiddling with the catch on the box, and as the flaps came apart, out flew a large bird. It left the box and soared above us quite low emitting a soft cry and I was able to see that it was some type of raptor, but then it swooped up and away toward what I later heard was it’s nest.

What I missed seeing was that as the bird soared upward and emitted that soft cry, its mate was flying toward it, and they began to circle around together. I find that amazing. How did that Falcon know that its mate was returning? What amazing powers of communication these creatures must enjoy.

One of the people spoke to me and explained that over the Christmas break, they had heard a scuffle out on their deck. When they looked out they saw this Falcon which had landed on the deck, but did not appear to be able to fly. Next they saw large hawk, possibly a Goshawk — no one is sure — attacking the one on the deck.

While she was explaining, the lady showed me images she had managed to capture of the event. Her shots were all great, and if I had a half a brain I would have gotten her email so I could get some of those shots for this piece. The one where the Falcon, with an obviously hurt wing, is attempting to defend itself from the larger bird, was amazing. She didn’t say how they persuaded the attacker to stop, but her next shot was of a disgruntled looking hawk parked on the railing and glaring at the camera. Possibly all the activity scared it away.

This is not the actual hawk, but it looks pretty cross, so I used the photo, which is courtesy Иван Сологуб Unsplash.com

Noting that the Falcon couldn’t fly and was clearly hurt, they phoned around trying to get help from one of the Wildlife preservation places. Apparently they were getting the runaround (doesn’t surprise me from personal experience with some of these places). Finally they found a place which actually specializes in rescuing Owls, but was willing to come over and attempt to catch and rescue the Falcon.

The Owl rescue people came over and using a large towel to drape over the bird, they successfully secured it. There was a cool picture of the bird being held in a secure manner, by it’s feet, upright and looking for all the world, like a bunch of flowers.

They took the bird back to their sanctuary and it was treated for its wounds, which though messy and temporarily debilitating, were not too serious. Fortunately there were no breaks to the wing.

Today, roughly a month after the accident, the Falcon was deemed to be recovered sufficiently to be returned to it’s neighbourhood, which is what they were doing. What I forgot to ask is how they knew that there was a Falcon nest nearby, but apparently there is and it is on top of a tall condo which overlooks the park. It was from that direction that the Falcon’s mate came.

The Falcons apparently nest on top of this condo building seen in the background. Photo by Louise Peacock.

That location is pretty ideal for the birds because the park is filled with rabbits, mice, and other suitable prey. There are other birds of prey in the area, we see them quite often soaring over the park searching for food, or perched in a tall tree, watching.

Red Tailed Hawk — Photo by Louise Peacock
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