Friendly falcon now in residence at Okanagan raptor rehab centre

A rare prairie falcon caught in Trail will spend the winter at the SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre

A rare (for this region) prairie falcon will be wintering in the comfortable confines of the SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre after being caught earlier this month in the West Kootenays.

Leanne, named after Nelson veterinarian Dr. Leanne Sackney, who did some home care of the adult female falcon, caught the attention of Trail residents, having been seen hanging around a daycare and no apparent fear of people.

Manager Dale Belvedere of the SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre with a rare prairie falcon currently under her care.
Mark Brett/Western News

According to SORCO manager Dale Belvedere, there are very strong indications the bird, thought to have come from Washington State, may have intentionally been released by someone who had her illegally.

It’s estimated there are over 100 licenced falconers in Washington state who primarily use the birds to hunt although they are used for other tasks as well.

Related: Taste of freedom for owls released in Oliver

“Upon examining her we found calluses on her legs probably from jesses (thin straps used to tether a raptor in falconry)” said Belvedere, adding the provincial fish and wildlife branch is also involved in the case. “If it was a legal falconer and she got away she would have had a jesse or be banded and she’s not.

“The assumption through the ministry (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) is somebody who had her got fed up with her and let her go and she doesn’t know what to do. She didn’t know to migrate. We don’t know how long she was out there but basically, bottom line is we can’t release her.”

Falcons generally migrate in late summer and early fall.

Although the age of the bird is unknown, she is in good health and the proper weight for a mature adult of her species.

According to Belvedere, the only reason the bird was caught was out of concern for the children of the daycare.

Related: South Okanagan owl and raptor centre welcomes Bad Company

“We just didn’t know what she would do, and we only intercepted her because of that reason,” she said. “She’s very friendly and she responds very well to a female’s voice, so any female talking she’s looking around and tilting her head.”

As well, the bird will only eat in the mornings, something Belvedere believes may be a routine or pattern she developed with her previous owner.

Prairie falcons were much more common in the 70’s and 80’s in B.C. and government studies show the Okanagan was historically the centre of provincial distribution but their numbers declined substantially due largely in part to the human disturbance of their rocky nesting sites.

A rare prairie falcon in care at the SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre.
Mark Brett/Western News

On the provincial red list, only a few breeding pairs of the raptors are thought to exist in the Okanagan.

When this Falcon was taken in nearly two weeks ago the ministry put out word of its capture to those involved in falconry in the states and B.C. in hopes someone would come forward but that has not happened, according to Belvedere.

“So we have no choice but to keep her until the spring,” she said.

There are plans to renovate one of the clinic flight pens, blocking out the elements to keep it warmer inside for the raptor while giving her more space.

Of the options available, Belvedere hopes if the bird is young enough and has very little human contact during her stay at SORCO she may become “wild.”

“That has happened before with some birds that we’ve had so we’re limiting contact with her, even though she is very friendly,” said Belvedere. “Hopefully, she’ll become wild enough so that if we bring her back to the Trail area or as close to the border as we can get she’ll go back to wherever she came from and then she’ll migrate next year.

“But right now it would be a death sentence to put here out in the wild.”

Related: Ikeda delegate makes generous donation to SORCO

Other possibilities include getting a permit to keep Leanne as an educational bird, similar to SORCO’s great horned owl Houdini or sending her to a licenced facility like British Columbia Wildlife Park in Kamloops.

“There is a third option, but we would never consider it — that is you sell her to a falconer. Personally, I don’t believe in falconry. We want them (birds) to have a good life,” said Belvedere. “But right now we’re just happy to be able to care for her and keep her warm.”

SORCO is actively seeking new volunteers to help with the care of raptors and other services. For more information go to https://www.sorco.org.


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COLUMN: Choosing a face to show the world

It will not be easy to select the face to display on Canada’s new $5 bill

Summerland Steam lose twice in Junior B hockey action

Next action for Junior B hockey team is on Friday, Jan. 17 in Summerland

Summerland drama students to stage Matilda

Story by Roald Dahl will be presented at Centre Stage Theatre in February

Petition to install safety barriers on Hwy 97 garners over 500 supporters

Yesterday a fatal collision on Hwy 97 claimed the life of one individual

Scholarship receives funds from KIJHL

Launched in September, the scholarship is available to all KIJHL players

Canada to bolster screening of central China passengers for virus at 3 airports

Additional measures will include messaging on arrivals screens in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

B.C. town spends $14.14 per resident for snow removal in one month

Costs of snow removal to the Town of Princeton skyrocketed in December.… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Photo reminds Salmon Arm resident of connection to former drama teacher Justin Trudeau

Prime minister remembered as being as a funny, larger-than-life person

Province says it is monitoring AIM’s road maintenance

The provincial transportation ministry is working closely with new road contractor AIM,… Continue reading

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Most Read