Sad News

photo courtesy of D Swayze

Unfortunately our first casualty of 2017 is now our first fatality. The female chick from the Logan nestsite went in for surgery today and the news was not good. Not only did she have additional injuries but her break was bad enough that not only would she not have been releasable but if she had made it through surgery and recovery, the quality of her life in captivity wouldn’t have been what we would wish for her or any of our peregrines. So we made the decision to do the only responsible thing for her. As I said in my last blog, 5 to 7 out of every 10 chicks die in their first year. Most will die believe it or not, because they fly. They live so much of their lives on the wing – hunting, migrating, travelling, courting, defending, teaching – and they do it so magnificently but it means they have so very much to learn in the few months of their lives. They have to learn to fly, learn to follow, learn to chase, learn to hunt, learn where and when and how to travel around before they begin their first migration to Mexico and Central America. Then its where and how to overwinter followed by the long return waiting for the weather to change in the US Midwest in February so they don’t come back too far ahead of the waterfowl and shorebirds they prefer. They learn all the basic skills they need to do all of that in the first six to eight weeks after their first flights, so long as they survive their first flights. They all deserve to make it, but most will not. And then there are the deaths that happen in the blink of an eye at a time when the chicks are at their safest and most secure. By banding age, the chicks have lived through the first ten days when they are horribly vulnerable to the weather. By three weeks of age, they have grown strong enough to defend themselves if they need to and their independent natures are starting to emerge. They are still two to three weeks away from the dangers of their first flights and their lives are long naps interspersed with preening, eating and starting to look at their world like a peregrine. They all deserve to make it, but most will not. Our injured Logan chick deserved to make it and when we knew that her life would not be the richer for our helping her we needed to do the best we could for her. We hope her brother and sisters don’t require our help but if they do, we will do the best we can for them too.