Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Peregrine in Hospital

This morning, we were surprised to hear Radio Derby carry a story in the news about a peregrine falcon that had been found injured at the new Royal Derby Hospital. It had been collected by staff and was about to be released later in the day, having been cared for in captivity for some days.

Photograph: Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
This came as a quite a surprise as we'd heard nothing and nobody had thought to contact us, not even from the radio station with whom we've long had a close association. Luckily we know that our two birds were seen on top of Jurys Inn on Monday afternoon, so it couldn't be one of ours. That was a relief.

We immediately rang both Radio Derby and the Royal Derby Hospital facilities team. The story emerged that an adult peregrine had been found bloodied and injured at the bottom of a small courtyard which acted as a light well to the seven storey hospital building. Luckily a falconer employed by the NHS Trust happened to be present that day (he comes every week from a professional pest control company to use their own falcons to reduce the pigeon problem around the new hospital). He took the bird back with him and to a vet for examination.

Peregrine falcon just before release.
Last seen heading towards Mickleover.
(Photo: Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)
I spoke to the falconer, Ritchie, this morning and learnt that the injured adult falcon had been convalescing in captivity for some days, and was shortly to be released. He thought it was between four and six years old. We have looked into trying to get the bird ringed by our licenced ringer today, but have been unable to reach him at such short notice. We also discussed holding the bird for a further night at the home for a local Derby falconer, so it could be ringed in the morning. But Ritchie felt it has been held in captivity long enough, and was keen to release it as soon as possible. So by 3pm it was agreed it would be released unringed. As always, it is important to put the interests of the wildlife before the interests of scientific study or education.

At this time we don't know where the falcon came from; we do know that other peregrines are seen from time to time over Derby, though these normally get seen off from the city centre by the resident birds. Meanwhile, our own injured falcon from 2009, Cathy, is still being cared for by our local falconer. She has always been well enough to fly (I've flown her myself), though we knew she would never have the ability to hunt and feed herself in the wild. We are currently discussing what arrangements we make for her in the future, and hope we might be able to get her seen by more people and school children than has been possible up to now.
You can follow the original story of Cathy here and here and here

Nick Moyes
Peregrines and  People Technical Advisor


Mo Cole said...

Interesting Nic..... what year was it that we didn't ring ours... ? x

Anonymous said...

Lets hope The released Peregrine, can find its way back to the eye clinic, at the city hospital as it clearly has a problem with its right eye

christine said...

Hi nick m. Glad that the Peregrine was ok and flew off ok! Just a thought could the peregrine Have bn one of ours that wasn't ringed from a few years ago? Wen u couldn't ring the juveniles can't remember the year! From Christine

Hilary. B'ham said...

Just how clever are these birds! Imagine knowing where the hospital was, and which day the falconer was going to be there. Amazing. I have just bought a new book - Peregrine Falcon by Patrick Stirling-Aird. It's very good.

Anonymous said...

If memory serves me right didn't one of our juvenille birds a few years ago lose its ring on its leg, there is a chance it could of been one of our birds but we will never know

Nick B (DWT) said...

Mo: it was 2010 that we didn't ring the two surviving chicks (that year, two died in the nest if you recall).
Anon: the colour rings can fall off due to wear or abrasion but the metal BTO rings never do...they are there permanently. So if the injured hospital bird was one that we had ringed, the BTO ring would still be present even if the colour ring had fallen off.
Nick B (DWT)
ps. In 2006 we only put BTO rings on the three chicks that year.