PATIENT: Peregrine Falcon, #10-2118
LOCATION: Richmond, Virginia
CAUSE OF ADMISSION: On ground, unable to fly
ADMISSION DATE: October 12, 2010
OUTCOME: Euthanized January 31, 2012
On October 12, a rare female Peregrine Falcon was admitted to the Wildlife Center of Virginia. The falcon was found on the ground, injured and unable to fly, on East Cary Street in Richmond.
The peregrine had a coracoid fracture and injuries to its right shoulder and right eye. With extensive treatment and two months of care, the peregrine is recovering well from these injuries.
On December 13, the Center contacted a pair of experienced local falconers to see if they would be interested in training the peregrine using falconry techniques. The Wildlife Center is hoping this training strategy will better condition the bird through intense exercise and test the bird’s eyesight and wings as it attempts to capture artificial lures while in flight.
After spending several months in training with the falconers, the bird escaped in Fort Wayne, Indiana in March. The falconers were passing through the area and stopped at a hotel for the night; during the night, someone broke into their car and tampered with the peregrine's enclosure. The next morning, when the falconers checked on the bird, it escaped.
After a worry-filled week, the Peregrine Falcon was rescued in Paulding, Ohio. The bird was taken to Nature's Nursery Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation near Toledo. In early April, the falcon was transferred back to the Wildlife Center for continued treatment and care. By early September, the bird's foot injuries had healed and the veterinary team felt comfortable transferring the peregrine back to the falconer's for flight training.
Most recent updates on Peregrine Falcon #10-2118:
February 1, 2012
Peregrine Falcon #10-2118 returned to the Wildlife Center on January 31 for a physical examination and series of radiographs. Falconers Eva and Andrew had seen marked behavior changes in the falcon over the past couple of months and considered it to be non-releasable. Both falconers and Wildlife Center staff wanted to determine if the bird would be healthy enough for placement.
When Eva updated us in mid-January on the falcon’s condition, she and Andrew decided to bring the falcon back inside from its mew, just to monitor the bird more closely. That close contact revealed some unexpected, troublesome observations. According to Eva:
“Outside in her mew, she did not show any signs that anything was wrong. But now that she's inside and feels safe and comfortable, she tries to get off her feet and lies down as soon as she feels unwatched. I put down towel piles so she can lie comfortably and not bruise her keel, but so far she has not taken up the offer and lies straight on the floor.”
On radiographs, Dr. Dave and Dr. Miranda found that the falcon’s right stifle [knee] was injured – as well as the surrounding leg bones. There was also severe muscle atrophy of the falcon’s right thigh and leg.
Dr. Dave and Dr. Miranda reviewed all of the falcon’s previous radiographs, looking to see if there was something overlooked on a prior examination. Nothing obvious was noted – one very subtle abnormality may be seen on a set of radiographs from the spring of 2011 (when the bird returned from Indiana), but it is very difficult to tell if this was the start of a larger problem, or just something that appears abnormal due to the technique and positioning of the bird on radiographs.
Because the bird’s joint was damaged – a painful injury – it could not be repaired. The veterinary team made the difficult decision to euthanize the falcon.
January 23, 2012
Peregrine Falcon #10-2118 has been with falconers Eva and Andrew King since September 2011. Our hope was that the bird's condition would improve once she molted and replaced her damaged feathers.
Things have not picked up for the falcon. Eva reports that the bird is not moving around the outdoor enclosure much and is not using her higher perches. The falcon spends much of her time on the ground, even though she has many other options. The peregrine has also been damaging new feathers that grow in.
At this point, the falconers and the Wildlife Center staff believe that the peregrine may be non-releasable. The Center will begin to assess possible placements.
December 8, 2011
Over the past few months, the Peregrine Falcon has been settling back in with falconers Eva and Andrew. Eva notes that it's been slow-going -- but that's okay. With the stress of the peregrine's escape, recovery, injuries, and treatment over the spring and summer, the bird's feathers weren't in the best condition, and first and foremost, she needs to molt before doing any flight training. Eva reports that the falcon has been doing just that -- and is growing a new set of feathers while hopping and flapping around her mew [enclosure] at Eva and Andrew's house.
September 8, 2011
In early August, the Peregrine Falcon was moved into a larger outdoor enclosure. This time around, the falcon began utilizing the space and was observed perching in a variety of places around the enclosure.
All summer, the Wildlife Center staff have been in touch with the falconers who were working with the Peregrine earlier this year. Once the veterinary staff were comfortable with her recovery, the plan was to transfer the bird to Eva and Andrew again to resume flight training and conditioning. With continued good reports in August, Wildlife Center staff decided the time had come to transfer the falcon.
On September 7, Dr. Dave transported the falcon to Eva and Andrew. We'll look forward to receiving reports on the Peregrine Falcon's progress.
About Peregrine Falcons
The Peregrine Falcon is a native species to Virginia, once nesting in the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains. By the early 1960s, the falcon was believed to be extinct as a breeding species in Virginia and all areas east of the Mississippi River -- a decline linked to the widespread use of DDT and other chemicals. A program of peregrine reintroduction began in Virginia in 1978. There are now about 20 known breeding pairs of peregrines in Virginia.
The name “peregrine” derives from the Latin word for “wanderer”. Some falcons that nest in the tundra of northern Canada winter in South America and travel more than 15,000 miles in a single year. "Island Girl", a Peregrine Falcon currently being tracked by the Falcon Research Group, left her nesting range on Baffin Island on September 21 and on November 5 was in northern Chile -- nearing the end of her migration. As of early April, Island Girl has started her northward migration.
News Stories about Peregrine:
March 17, 2011
Rare Falcon That Escaped Has Been Recaptured, Richmond Times-Dispatch
March 11, 2011
Rare Falcon Escapes, Richmond Times-Dispatch
December 15, 2010
Falcon Hurt in Richmond May Be Released, Richmond Times-Dispatch
November 10, 2010
Falcon's Shoulder, Not Eye, Appears to be Healing, Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 27, 2010
Injured Falcon Isn't From Richmond's Well-Known Pair, Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 23, 2010
Falcon Injured in Downtown Richmond Appears to Improve, Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 16, 2010
Famous Birds in the Care of Wildlife Center of Virginia, WHSV-TV
October 15, 2010
Rare Richmond Peregrine Falcon Injured, Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 14, 2010
Wildlife Center Treating "Celebrity"Birds, WVIR-TV
October 13, 2010
Injured Peregrine Falcon Under Care of Wildlife Center of Virginia, WVEC-TV