(KRON) — Some Bay Area wildlife rescuers celebrated the recovery of a peregrine falcon they nursed back to health. However, they had one last obstacle to overcome: successfully returning the bird back to the wild.
The rescuers asked if I would fly the raptor to its home territory in Southern California. It’s a “Flying tails” trip we’re calling “The Flight of the Falcon.” She doesn’t have a name or even much of a back story.
All we know is this bird was found injured near Carlsbad and wildlife specialists said she was unlikely to survive in the wild.
“There was significant documentation of a lot of head trauma and a lot of eye issues at that time,” Dr. Dan Famini said of the bird.
The peregrine falcon is considered the fastest animal on earth — flying up to 200 miles an hour to snatch its prey.
“I’ve seen peregrine catch bats on the wings. So as bats are flying out from, you know they’re just flying, catching them in the air and then landing on the ground, just pulling them apart,” said Heather Perry of California Fish & Wildlife.
CA Fish & Wildlife officials sent the bird to Sonoma Wildlife Rescue near Petaluma.
It was during its rehabilitation in Sonoma County that a doctor found that the bird had made a remarkable recovery. Instead of living its life in an enclosure, it might be fit enough to be set free.
“We had to make sure that it still had the appropriate behavior and temperament of a wild animal,” Famini said. “We had to make sure that its light capacity was appropriate and so we went through all of those parameters and over the course of a couple of weeks, it did great.”
But it’s a 500-mile drive to Carlsbad, which added stress to an already high-strung animal. The falcon was put in a small cardboard box and loaded into the plane. Within minutes, we were airborne. Three-and-a-half hours later, we were turning for final at Carlsbad.
On the ground, we were met by volunteer Jerry McGuire who took possession of the falcon for the last phase: the release. A few minutes later he took the bird to a nearby reservoir where the falcon that had been on the mend since last February was finally returned home.
You know it did a couple of loops around the lake before it, it went off in the distance, but it feels like it’s saying goodbye to say thank you on the way out.