Fledgling adventures aren’t restricted to Winnipeg these days. Today the first of the McKenzie Seeds chicks fledged and end up on the ground. Apparently the chick was scooped up by a couple of members of the public, which usually is a good thing, but there are always exceptions. I don’t know what these folks thought they were going to do with a really annoyed bird of prey that has the weapons to defend itself, but it could have ranged from ill-advised curiosity to a tragic end for the young peregrine. In any case, it was another member of the public who lives near the nestsite and knows about the peregrines called the City and our very lucky adventurer was rescued by BC, a municipal animal protection officer.
This is the point when a photo of the chick found its way onto Facebook and RCF started working her contacts to track the bird down. We needn’t have worried, BC and AKD, our wildlife biologist contact with the provincial government, had connected and they were going to meet up in the morning. In the meantime I spoke with Wildlife Haven about how to get the chick from Brandon to their facility in Ile des Chenes if it looked like she needed to be examined. AKD and BC were able to confirm that the chick hadn’t suffered any damage from its adventures the day before so plans were made to return the chick to the roof of a building near the nestsite.
Flying up from the ground (vertical flight) takes both a lot of strength and skill that all peregrine chicks have to learn “on-the-fly” so to speak. If a chick were to crash land in an open field, the chick could run and flap its wings and eventually get off the ground and with enough space they can gain altitude and get themselves back up where they belong. In urban areas, they don’t have that kind of space and not hit something, or be hit by something. When they can eventually fly vertically, they still have to be able to navigate between buildings but at least they are off the ground. Until then, if they get grounded, they are trapped on the ground. When we release grounded chicks, we make sure to release them from roof tops so they have the space they need and it is amazing how fast chicks learn. They may not be able to fly vertically for awhile, but their flight skills improve exponentially with every landing and take-off.
We are fortunate to have a supportive partner in the property manager of a nearby building and we were able to arrange for AKD to take the chick up onto the roof and release her. Not as grateful as she might have been at her good fortune, Miss Very Lucky Chick (and we think at the moment she is a she) yelled prodigiously and stomped of her feet as she ran along the roof edge and then she was back in the air and heading towards the nestsite. RCF was stationed at ground level (in case there was another crash landing) and she reported that the chick landed, somewhat ungracefully, beak first on the roof below the nestbox before she took flight again. She flew across the street, circled the MTS Tower, gaining altitude as she went, and landed again, sticking the landing this time, on the Clock Tower above the nestbox. A very impressive result for a second flight!
Watching her return was her parents, Wingo Starr and April, and her sibling, who had wisely chosen to stay at the nestbox.
Thanks to RCF, AKD, BC & the rest of the crew for their help rescuing and releasing Miss Very Lucky and for sharing their photos.