Young Peregrine Falcon Re-united with Family!

Late in the evening, June 5 our facebook page for Humboldt Wildlife Care Center received a message. A paddle-boarder had rescued “a hawk of some kind” who had been struggling in the water of Humboldt Bay.

The next morning, right after we opened the clinic, the kind person brought in a young Peregrine Falcon.

After an examination, it was obvious that the bird must have fallen from the nest. Her primary feathers, which are needed for flight, weren’t grown in sufficiently for a fledgling – a real shame. She had no injuries except for dehydration and exhaustion from her watery ordeal. If she had been old enough to fly we could have provided her with fluid support and some nutrition then released her back to her family. But this bird was about a week shy of that and would need to go back to her nest, which we couldn’t accomplish, or we would have to raise the youngster until she was old enough to reunite with her family.

PEFA reunite 2015 - 01The young Peregrine Falcon in our purpose built aviary, the Merry Maloney Raptor House

A Peregrine Falcon is a very special kind of animal that presents steep challenges to successfully raise. While every species has its own advantages and unique characteristics, some animals represent the outermost limitations of life – the Blue Whale is largest, the Ocean Quahog is a clam that can live to be 500 years old, and the Peregrine Falcon can top 200 miles per hour when diving toward prey. Providing the environment they need to become successful wild adults is filled with special problems. Simply offering thawed mice and room to fly, while critical for her care, wouldn’t be enough for such a specialist to learn to how to survive on her own.

PEFA reunite 2015 - 02Learning to fly

Unfortunately, by the time our patient was flying, her family had already left their nest. In fact, we’d even responded to a call from a Eureka resident about a bird of prey exhibiting strange behavior near the Humboldt County Library. When we’d arrived on the scene we found an adult Peregrine Falcon (now saddled with a radio transmitter) protecting one of her young ,who had fledged from the nest and was still getting the hang of flight.

If the parents weren’t at the nest, and if we weren’t able to predict where they would be, it looked like we wouldn’t be able to re-unite this family after all.

Raising self-sufficient predators is a task best left to their parents. But if re-uniting wasn’t going to be possible, then we had to start planning for this one’s education. So we began developing the curriculum for our new course, Becoming a Peregrine Falcon.

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She was doing quite well, regularly finding and eating the mice we provided, as well as developing better flight skills. In the middle of  designing a method to simulate hunting ducks on water, which is one of the Peregrine Falcon’s specialties, both she and we got a lucky break.

While running errands, we saw the parent falcon near the nest site, days after having been sighted at the nearby library. Given that our patient had already demonstrated rudimentary hunting skills and that the parents were staying close to the old nest site, we seized the opportunity to release the young falcon with confidence that the bird would have ample time to rejoin her parents.

PEFA reunite 2015 - 04BAX/HWCC staff rehabilitator, Lucinda Adamson, captures the falcon for release.

Last Saturday, after 2 weeks in care, we took the falcon to the area where we’d last seen the adult. We chose a spot where she would have plenty of opportunities to hunt while waiting for mom or dad to show up. When the box was opened the bird jumped out to the ground, took a quick look around, then launched into flight. The bird crossed the water, making a beeline for the library.

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From the car as they followed, our release team was able to see the youngster flying toward an adult Peregrine Falcon, who was up above the library building. The two birds immediately began calling to each other and circling nearer. Less than ten minutes out of our hands, this wild family was together again.

PEFA reunite 2015 - 12The parent falcon, in a photograph enlarged many times

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The young falcon in flight, far from our team, close to her parent.

Thanks to the support you provide, Bird Ally X/Humbodlt Wildlife Care Center helps keep wild families together all over the Redwood Coast, and beyond. Thanks to your support, this falcon will learn to be a falcon from the best in the business, her mother. If you want to help us directly feed our predator patients, you can support us through our supplier of frozen rodents at Layne Labs, with a gift certificate, or you can use the donate button on this page. Thank you for being a part of this life-saving work!

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 all photos: Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X




Mendocino Board of Supervisors – We urge you to cancel the Wildlife Services contract

This is the letter that we sent to the Mendocino Board of Supervisors, who will be deciding this Tuesday whether or not to sever their contract with USDA Wildlife (Dis)Services. Mendocino County has responded to a suit brought by a colaution of wildlife advocacy groups. Read more about that suit here.


Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors
501 Low Gap Rd Room 1010
Ukiah California 95482

re: Contract with USDA Wildlife Services

Dear Supervisors;

By way of introduction, my name is Monte Merrick. I am one of the co-directors of  Bird Ally X and our wildlife hospital in Bayside, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. Our facility, which treats well over 1000 injured and orphaned wild animals each year, serves Northern Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.

We have been closely following the effort to introduce an environmentally responsible and morally acceptable alternative to Mendocino County’s contract with the USDA’s notorious “Killing Agency,” Wildlife Services.

The history of the Wildlife Services, its controversial practices, and the recent attention it has received because of  its agents (county trappers, etc) is widely available – the covered-up kills of non-targeted animals, the irresponsible use of poisons and traps, the opacity of its programs. That its agents employ and happily promote a moral code of “shoot, shovel, and shut up”  is enough, one would think, to give elected officials pause before entering into any contract with them.

The broad actions of a federal agency may seem remote from the responsibilities of county Supervisors, but the actions of Wildlife Services are at the heart of this issue. The misdeeds of federal trappers occur in real communities. When a family pet is killed, when an endangered species is killed, when a wild family is disrupted and orphans are left to die, it happens somewhere. It happens on the ground in real time, in a real place, with real repercussions and ramifications. Mendocino is one of these places.

I am sure you have been made aware of the notorious cases of wrongdoing on the part of Wildlife Services agents – including the cases of agents who have, in some cases intentionally, killed family dogs. This happens right in Mendocino.

The Wildlife Services employee in Mendocino is known by residents as “Dead Dog” due to the number of dogs he is believed to have killed. Yet people are not willing to challenge him for fear of being targeted as well. Last year, when I was promoting the petition that I’d started to bring accountability and transparency to this agency (so far over 173,000 signatures), I spoke with many Northern Mendocino residents about “Dead Dog.” When I asked if any of them would be willing to make a public statement to their Board of Supervisors, I was told “it would never happen. He knows where we live.” Other residents have said they just try to get along with him, and avoid provocations.

Besides Dead Dog’s personal traits, we know that his contracted actions, which are the same actions as the Wildlife Services trapper in Humboldt or Sacramento or anywhere – are cruel and ineffective.

Trapping so-called nuisance wildlife doesn’t solve the problem. I am sure you have been presented with plenty of evidence that supports this. As a wildlife rehabilitator, I can tell you that trapping and killing raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes, coyotes, bear and more (forgetting for the moment the non-targeted victims), does not eliminate the problem. Unless the cause of the problem is removed, the human behavior that has drawn wildlife into conflict, lethal solutions only provide another animal with the opportunity to exploit a niche – such as a cat food on the porch niche, or an open passageway to crawlspace niche, or unsupervised livestock niche. 

Also, trapping and killing wild animals disrupts the stability of their social structures which has been shown to cause more problems with livestock predation, property loss and population balance – certainly this is true in the case of coyotes.

Trapping a mother raccoon and killing her and leaving her babies to starve to death under someone’s house is immoral, inhumane and a potential public health hazard.

Additionally, trapping and killing is immoral because there are proven nonlethal solutions. Mendocino county is already partially served by Humboldt Wildlife Care Center on this score and Southern Mendocino is served by Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. Both organizations provide nonlethal human solutions that are effective because they strike at the problem not the symptom.

Frankly the reasons to terminate the contract are obvious and easily explored. The contract is not in the interest of the community you were elected to serve. Your constituency is perhaps broader than your predecessors who entered into this contract may have understood. The ecological systems, the people who live and work within them, our wild neighbors all have a right to peaceful co-existence and transparency when, for public safety reasons, lethal options must be used.

Your responsibility to all who call our region home demands that you sever the contract with the agency that Oregon congressman Pete DeFazio has called the most “opaque and obstinate.”

I trust that you will do the right thing and end this contract.

Thank you
Robert ‘Monte’ Merrick