Whirlwind Weekend An 568 Release

Well, this was a whirlwind weekend! The signings at Cardinal Corner went very well. Above is a my friend Kristin--she just came back to Minnesota. Years ago, we both worked for the same children's theater company. There are some autographed copies of City Birds/Country Birds left at Cardinal Corner, so if you would like one stop in or give them a call, they'll be happy to ship one out. We will sell them through the Birdchic Boutique if you would like me to personalize a copy as well. We had some awesome Cinnamon fans show up. And I must say, Cinnamon was having a great time running around in a bird store again. She loves carpeting and she loves spilled seed, to her this was the best book signing she had ever done. The kids above stopped in and brought Cinnamon a bag of some of her favorite treats--an apple, some carrots, and of course--hay! They gave her lots of head scratches too. Thanks, guys!

Sunday morning, my buddy Amber and I got the honor of driving Peregrine Falcon 568 to Duluth for her release. I've never had the opportunity to release a bird for The Raptor Center before, I was really shocked that we got to do it. I was just hoping to get to take some photos and video, but with the timing, Amber and I got the job.

We arrived in clinic on Sunday morning and Terri (left) and Lori (right) gave 568 some last minute tweaking. The feisty falcon thrashed a bit and I wondered if she was thinking "What the heck are they going to poke and prod me with now?" She had no idea that after so many months, she was actually going to leave this place. I wished there was some way we could let her know.

Her boots to keep her bumble foot at bay were finally going to be removed. Lori cut away all the duct tape and took of the padding.

Here feet looked even better than they had on Thursday which was most encouraging. When she would be out in the wild, all the rough surfaces of branches and cliffs she will perch on will help keep the skin in shape.

Falcon 568 had to get a last minute pedicure too. Since she's been in clinic, her talons have been trimmed but they are a little dull. Lori took a nail file and gave them some sharp points--so they would be hunting ready. Boy, 568 really didn't care for that.

Amber and I made the two and half hour drive up to Frank's blind (where she flew in with the injured leg). Her release day was the opposite of her capture day. It was chilly and rainy that day last September. This day was bright and sunny. When we took her out of the box, she was rarin' to go. I think she noticed that this day was different--the boots were off, there was no leash attached and we wondered with a bird's internal navigation system, did she realize where she was? We tried to get photos of her release, but my counting was off (if you can imagine, I was a little excited to release her) and we weren't able to get a photo, but we got the video (I set the camera up behind us):

She flew low and far over the field, and then landed on a tree way over on the other side. We tried to walk over and find her but we did not. I'm sure she landed, roused her feathers and then took off to be as far from us as possible, get her bearings and do a little hunting. Go, 568, go. I don't want to hear from you again for at least a good 15 years when someone finds your band and turns it into the Bird Banding Lab.

Since we were there, we checked on Frank's blind. He wasn't open yet, the blind starts this weekend. We found some evidence of a critter living in there. Check out the chew marks.

Lots of scat was on the blind floor. Amber and I were trying to determine the animal based on what we knew was around there. We had our suspicions and then we found our confirmation:

Porcupine quills! A porcupine has been seeking refuge in the blind. Boy, it's in for a rude awakening this weekend.

Amber and did a little birding. You couldn't spit without hitting a cedar waxwing, they were EVERYwhere. We also found a flock of about 50 kingbirds. Migration is kickin' in. It was strange, since it was a warm beautiful weekend, there people in all the places we hit in the fall and winter when it's typically people free.

These two were the most irritating of all the people. They were driving golf balls into Lake Superior. Seriously, there aren't enough driving ranges, you have to pollute a lake with your crappy golf balls? Amber and I debated about what to do. Was it legal? If we confronted them about throwing crap into the lake, would we get into an altercation? They were much bigger than we are, would they beat us up? So, we decided to just take photos of them and I pretended to be dialing my cell phone. As soon as they saw that, they quit what they were doing and stuffed the golf club and balls into their truck. As he was putting his clubs away, a little boy ran up and cried, "Daddy, I didn't get to do it, can't I do it too, it's my turn?" He gave the young lad a firm, "No, be quiet!" and took out a metal detector and began doing that instead.

Before we headed out, we gave Lori a call at TRC to let her know that all went well. She was pleased and then said, "Hey, would you mind calling a Duluth rehabber, she has an injured falcon that needs to come back to The Raptor Center?"

And so we came up to release a falcon and ended up bringing one back. This bird looked to be a year older than 568 and was also unbanded--where did this falcon come from? Anther tundrius? It flew into a factory window and probably has a fracture on its wing. I have no intentions of following another falcon. I can tell you that this one is still alive and if a bird can survive the first 24 hours, that is always a good sign.

Thanks so much for following 568 with me. I have to admit, I was real thrilled to follow a bird in the blog, so many things can go wrong at any time and it would have been a bummer if she had to be put down, but she survived. If you've enjoyed her story or admired what TRC does, please consider making a donation or becoming a volunteer. And if you don't want to support TRC, consider making a donation to a rehabber in your state.