Lunch Date with a Peregrine

Juneau, a female peregrine dines on quail over fist.

Today I went in for some refresher training at The Raptor Center. Since my schedule has become so full I am not able to do regular programs at TRC so the bird curator has me come in once a month to keep up on my bird handling skills. I didn't realize until today how much I miss doing programs at TRC. It's really, really cool to have the privilege of handling birds of prey--I never EVER get tired of it. If you ever meet someone that says, "Yeah, I used to work with raptors it was no big deal"--they're lying it is a big deal. It's as much fun as you think it would be. I love everything about it, they way each bird feels different on your fist (red-tails feel like chunky blobs, peregrines feel like a solid and erect piece of steel), I love the way the birds smell, anticipating what they are going to do next and I miss sharing that with the public. I am going to have to find a way to clear my schedule to have time to do this again.

I handled Ricke (an unfortunate great-horned owl with rickets because he was raised as a vegetarian by some dorkwad veterinarian) and Juneau the peregrine in the photo above. Juneau was involved in a duck hunting incident. Some poor duck hunter was aiming at a duck not realizing that a peregrine was aiming for the same fowl racing in around 200 mph. The hunter turned her in to US Fish and Wildlife and since it was an accident was not charged but Juneau has permanent injuries to her flight muscles and is now an ed bird.

Peregrines are the reason I'm not a vegetarian anymore. I was for a few years and early on at TRC I was feeding one a rat while it sat on my fist. Peregrines really look like they enjoy what they eat. They pick the darkest, juiciest pieces of meat and eat those first. There are all kinds of strange squishy and crunch sounds as they eat and then after some bites they almost do a num num num gesture with their bill. As I watched the peregrine eat the rat I realized how badly I wanted some meat and have justified my meat eating that if a bird can eat meat, so can I.