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Recent Peregrine Rescue Highlights Great Work in UK for Bird of Prey Conservation

A recent Peregrine rescue highlights the important work that is happening in the UK with birds of prey, and for the most part goes unreported.

A gamekeeper who works on an Estate near Bath contacted the Hawk and Owl Trust on the 30th June having picked up an injured female peregrine near his home in Wiltshire. Placed in a safe box at the gamekeeper’s home, the hungry bird was suffering extensive flight feather damage and clearly needed professional examination.

The Hawk and Owl Trust collected the bird and relocated it to a local bird of prey centre, West of England Falconry, with the aim of achieving a  full recovery and eventual release into the wild. The bird was bearing both BTO metal and colour rings which allowed it to be traced to having been ringed near Brighton as a female chick on 22/05/07.

After an initial examination, West of England Falconry arranged for the bird to be transferred to the National Raptor Hospital specialist facility at the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP) where she was examined by the Centre staff and the following day the Centre’s specialist avian vet. The consultation indicated that there was an old healed but misaligned break in the Peregrines left leg. The result of this misalignment, plus the recent injury was that the bird would never be in fit state to return to the wild. In addition, the bird would never be able to cope with the wearing of jesses or be handled with ease so was equally unsuited to captive life. At 13 years this falcon was a senior, with many mature falcons typically living to 12-15 years (if they make it past juvenile stage). Unfortunately, a decision had to be made and the bird was euthanised. This decision was taken after consideration of what was best for the bird. Jemima Parry-Jones, Director of the International Centre for Birds of Prey, emphasised that “if she had had a chance we would have undoubtedly given her that chance, but circumstances did not allow.”

It’s important to take positives from this outcome. Although in this instance the bird was unable to be rehabilitated, the remarkable effort from a variety of people and groups in different parts of the UK is a sign of something promising for birds of prey in the UK. From the gamekeeper who must be applauded for taking the bird into his care, the International Centre for Birds of Prey, West of England Falconry, the Hawk Conservancy Trust, British Trust for Ornithology, to the Hawk and Owl Trust - a chain of at least 6 people across multiple UK organisations who worked together for this one peregrine and throughout had her best interests at heart.

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