How do you rehabilitate a peregrine falcon?
One of the first steps we have to do is call Fish and Game and Fish and Wildlife and let them know that we got a peregrine in, because they are an endagered species they require more paperwork. We have to order special food for the peregrines because most of the other raptors will eat mice or rats, but these guys get quail. We also have to provide special perches for them. Because of the way their feet are built with the long toes, they require flat perches instead of the more traditional perches.
Is it hard to rehabilitate them?
The peregrines we got in were not that hard, because they are more prone to a condition called pododermitis (bumblefoot) we need to watch their feet carefully. Also they are more prone to a fungal infection called Aspergillosis so they are kept very clean and given good ventilation.
Did you ever have a Peregrine that you were treating die?
One bird died on the surgery table (we were pinning her wing--she had been shot and the pellet broke the wing). The other bird died of a massive infection.
That's so sad. Are you able to check up on the ones that made it? Are they tagged before they are released?
Unfortunately, the one that got released did not get banded. We could not get a bander over before the bird was released (he was beginning to get real flighty in the aviary and was begining to break feathers so we had to release him). The other one that went to education, I have not heard from them in the last eight months.
Are the animals you've rehabilitated usually young? Or were they adults?
If I remember correctly, two of the birds were adults and two were about a year old. During the spring and summer months we usually see young animals, mostly orphans and during the winters we get the young adults and older ones....generally injured one way or another.
Are young falcons more likely to get hurt out of inexperience?
In California we saw mostly Kestrels, and merlins in the winter. Normally when someone came in injured it was man related...gunshot, car hit or hitting windows. Rarely did we get in young birds that were having difficulties hunting.
In your experience, are peregrines harder or easier to rehabilitate than other raptors?
I felt that the peregrines were a bit harder, they require a lot more special housing and food than most of the other raptors. They are also high strung and will easily damage their feathers in captivity if not handled carefully. I would rather rehab. another golden eagle than another peregrine!!