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Peregrine Falcon ingests shotgun pellets

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Peregrine falcon in care with WIRESA rescue call came in for a Nankeen kestrel that had been taken to a local vet in Wagga. When WIRES volunteer Shelly, arrived to pick the bird up she found it was instead this stunning female Peregrine falcon!

The falcon had already been x-rayed and found to have a break in her wing. When Shelly arrived home she sent the x-rays to Hazel, WIRES local raptor co-ordinator, who noticed a strange object in the birds crop.

It turned out to be shotgun pellet! If this had remained in her system it is very likely she would have not survived.

Shelly gave ‘Penelope’ a large meal (yum ... a rat) in the hope she would bring up the shotgun pellet in the casting. Castings are the mass of undigested parts of a bird’s food that they regurgitate and they are formed within six to ten hours of their meal.

The next morning Shelly was ecstatic to discover the pellet in her casting, a great result. When Penelope came into care she weighed only 540 grams and may have been in distress for some time. During this first phase of her recovery Penelope had gained an impressive 340 grams.

After six weeks in care x-rays confirmed the broken bone had healed and it was time for her to go to the aviary facility at Beechworth Correctional Facility where she will need two to three weeks in the large flight aviary to build up flight strength before her release.

We believe she ingested the shotgun pellet via her prey, she was carefully checked for any signs of shot gun injury and none were found.

Shelly says she was an absolute joy to care for and to get this magnificent bird back in the air has been the highlight of her threeyears with WIRES.

Peregrine Falcon pairs mate for life and a breeding pair have a range of about 20 km to 30 km. They lay their eggs in cliff faces, tree hollows or in abandoned nests of other birds rather than constructing a nest themselves. The female incubates the eggs and is fed by the male on the nest. When the young have hatched, both parents are involved in hunting to provide food.

Young Peregrine falcons disperse widely when they leave the nest, but are known to return to their original home area to breed when mature.

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