Peregrine Falcon #14-1319

Species Name (EN): 
Species Name (LA): 
Admission Date: 
June 20, 2014
Location of Rescue: 
Richmond, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Flew into a building
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On June 19, the Wildlife Center received a call about one of the two female falcons hatched on cam in downtown Richmond on May 1, 2014. On June 17, the two birds fledged from their roost; volunteers with “FledgeWatch” looked on as the birds took their first flights. Two days after fledging from the nest, one of the birds flew into a building in downtown Richmond, damaging her left eye and beak. The bird was rescued and taken to the Cary Street Veterinary Hospital. The falcon was transported to the Wildlife Center the following morning.

Dr. Rich Sim, the Center’s veterinary fellow, examined the bird when she arrived. The examination of the falcon’s left eye revealed hemorrhage [bleeding] and inflammation within the eye and a significantly swollen third eyelid. Dr. Rich was unable to fully examine the back of the bird’s eye due to the presence of blood in the eye; a follow-up eye examination will be needed after several days to truly determine the prognosis of the eye. If the peregrine is visually compromised due to permanent eye injuries, she will be non-releasable. Dr. Rich and licensed veterinary technician Leigh-Ann took radiographs of the bird; no fractures were found, but Dr. Rich did find a ruptured air sac. The Peregrine Falcon is not having difficulty breathing; this rupture should heal within the next few days. The end of the bird’s beak was also fractured, though after consulting radiographs, Dr. Rich thinks the bone of the beak appears unharmed. He anticipates that the keratin of the beak will grow back within the next two to three months, with some re-shaping through beak trims.

The Peregrine Falcon was started on a course of anti-inflammatories and pain medication; the veterinary team also gave the bird fluids. The falcon was placed in the Center’s holding room; she will receive a follow-up eye examination on Monday, June 23.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this Peregrine Falcon ... and to the 2,600 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year. Please help!

Peregrine in the news:

Richmond falcon's injured eye might keep it from being released, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Injured falcon is alert, but evaluation will take more time, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Wildlife Center of VA continues care of injured peregrine falcon, WTVR-TV


October 29, 2014

Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 has been doing well during the past few weeks. The falcon is living in her outdoor enclosure; the outreach staff continue to work with the bird, but the falcon is definitely ready for her public debut! The naming rights for the Peregrine Falcon will be auctioned at the Wildlife Center’s annual gala and benefit fundraiser on Saturday, November 1. Want to name the falcon?  Submit your absentee bid by Friday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern!

We’re pleased to showcase the newest member of our team on Critter Cam! Falcon Cam watchers can once again check in and watch this peregrine as she begins a new chapter of her life at the Wildlife Center. For those interested in keeping up-to-date with the peregrine’s stories, consider sponsoring this young Peregrine Falcon through the Center’s Caring for Critters program. This will be the last update on this "patient page"!

October 16, 2014

Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 continues to do very well with her training. Amanda and Raina are working with the falcon daily, although the bird now spends a significant amount of time in her outdoor enclosure. She still readily flies to the glove when Amanda or Raina ask her to.

While work with the bird will continue over the next few weeks, both Amanda and Raina agree that this has been an amazingly fast training and assessment period for the falcon. With achievements made to date, it's time to declare the Peregrine Falcon as the newest official member of the Outreach Team.

The last step – choosing a name – will take place in a few weeks at the Wildlife Center’s annual gala on November 1. There, the naming rights for the Peregrine Falcon will be auctioned off in the Center’s live auction. Stay tuned for more information, including how you can place an absentee bid on this incredible honor!

October 8, 2014

Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 is doing very well with her training to be an education ambassador. Both Amanda and Raina continue to work with the bird every day; the Peregrine Falcon still spends time on the glove with both of her handlers, but also has started spending time in her new enclosure. The falcon appears to be relaxed with Raina and Amanda, steps up on the glove willingly when removed from her crate, and also readily flies about three or four feet to the glove from perches in her enclosure.

During the next week, the falcon will be transitioned to spending more time in her outdoor enclosure. Amanda has noted that this is one of the best birds she’s ever worked with; working with the falcon is the highlight of her day. Raina notes, “The PEFA is a quick learner and a very engaging bird. It’s clear that she’s comfortable around her handlers, so she relaxes in our presence. She rouses, preens and even takes baths in front of us. It’s a lot of fun working with and training this falcon – it’s a new and rewarding challenge.”

Check out this video of our newest ambassador-in-training!

September 25, 2014

Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 is doing very well with her training to become an education ambassador. Amanda and Raina work with the falcon every day – the falcon is with either one of the two every day throughout the day.

The falcon is able to calmly sit on the glove while her handlers walk around indoors or outdoors; she’s also able to enter and exit her travel crate smoothly. Raina and Amanda are currently working on training the falcon to make short flights to the glove for food.

Work is currently being done on the falcon’s enclosure; several special perches are being constructed for the Peregrine Falcon. Amanda and Raina have walked in and out of the enclosure with the falcon, and hope that modifications will be done by early October. In October, the falcon will likely start living outside while training continues.

Training on September 17, 2014 (Day 3):


Bath time on September 23: 

September 16, 2014

During the week of September 8, Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 finished the course of antibiotics for her eye injury. Blood work was drawn on September 11; the veterinary staff found that the falcon’s white blood cell count was low. Additional blood work was scheduled for Monday, September 15 to determine if any treatment was needed.

Results from the follow-up blood work revealed a higher white blood cell count, and the Peregrine Falcon’s eye was fully healed. The veterinarians gave clearance for education training to resume.

Director of outreach Amanda Nicholson began working with the falcon again on Monday afternoon. Amanda sat in her office with the falcon on the glove. This time, the falcon was more calm – while the bird will need to build trust and learn a lot in the coming weeks, the Peregrine Falcon surprised Amanda by readily eating food off of the glove!

During the next few weeks, the Peregrine Falcon will live inside and will spend her days with Amanda and outreach coordinator Raina. The bird will be on the glove during the day, and will live in a crate in the outreach room at night. As the Peregrine Falcon advances in training, the bird will be introduced to an outdoor enclosure. Amanda and Raina hope to train the falcon to make short flights to the glove for food, which will make it easier to retrieve the bird from the outdoor enclosure.

August 26, 2014

On August 25, Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 was fitted with her education “equipment” – the leather anklets and jesses that are used for training and handling education raptors. While the bird was in hand, the veterinary team drew blood, trimmed the falcon’s talons, and performed a quick physical examination. As outreach coordinator Raina Krasner placed the anklets on the falcon, Dr. Dave noted that the scab covering the incision site in the falcon’s left eye socket was beginning to lift off. A small amount of clear fluid was draining from under the scab – suggesting that the surgical site could have an infection. Dr. Dave took samples and made a slide to check for bacteria under a microscope. In the meantime, the first training session proceeded as planned.

Amanda, the Center’s director of outreach, began working with the falcon -- the initial goal for any new bird-in-training is to allow the bird to get used to its new surroundings and ideally stand quietly on the trainer’s glove. At first, the falcon was not particularly interested in standing on the glove, and bated [flew off the glove] many times. This is to be expected – after a significant and lengthy treatment process, the falcon does not trust humans – so both Amanda and Raina will be working with the bird to build that trust. After spending some time quietly standing in the dark radiology room with the bird on the glove, Amanda was eventually able to sit in her office with the bird for a few hours.

Results from the slide sample revealed that the falcon does have a bacterial infection, though blood work was within normal limits. Dr. Dave decided that it would be best to treat the infection with oral and topical antibiotics, to ensure that the surgical site completely heals. This means that training will be delayed for about two weeks. The falcon will live in the Center’s holding room during treatment.

July 30, 2014

Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 is recovering well from her eye evisceration surgery. The surgical site is healing well, and the falcon has been seen “head-bobbing” – moving her head up and down to judge depth perception and distance as she gets used to life with one eye.

The falcon did not eat well after surgery – at first, the vets suspected the bird was still painful from surgery, but after a few days of not eating, the veterinary staff decided to move the falcon to a small outdoor enclosure to see if the outdoor scenery would stimulate her appetite. The falcon began eating again, and appears to be doing well in the outdoor enclosure.

The veterinary team will continue to monitor the falcon’s evisceration site, and the rehabilitation staff will closely monitor the bird’s appetite. After the bird is fully healed and has had time to rest, the outreach staff will begin training the bird for outreach programs.


July 23, 2014

On the afternoon of July 22, veterinary intern Dr. Meghan Feeney took Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 to surgery to remove the bird’s left eye. Dr. Dave McRuer, the Center’s veterinary director, was present to assist.

The falcon underwent what’s known as an eye “evisceration” – the contents of the eye were surgically removed. This is different from an “enucleation”, where the entire globe is removed. This means the basic shape of the falcon’s face will stay more symmetrical, and the missing eye will likely be less noticeable. The advantages of this surgery are that the bird’s face is better balanced, the surgery is shorter, and there is a decreased risk of affecting the sight in the remaining eye.

The surgery went well, though was a little more difficult than anticipated, due to the extensive damage in the bird’s eye. A moderately sized piece of scar tissue was removed, causing additional bleeding. After surgery, the falcon recovered from anesthesia well, though the surgical site continued to bleed. The bleeding eventually slowed, and the falcon was placed back in the Center’s holding room overnight. The Peregrine Falcon will be on a course of pain medications and antibiotics for the next several days; the veterinary staff will monitor the surgical site daily.


July 21, 2014

During the past week, Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 received several more eye assessments. Dr. Dave McRuer, the Center’s veterinary director, noted that additional scar tissue was visible in the falcon’s injured eye on Thursday, July 17; on Saturday, Dr. Meghan Feeney, the Center’s veterinary intern, noted additional changes in the eye. On Monday, July 21, the falcon’s eye had visibly changed; the eye was atrophied and the falcon seemed to be reacting more to light [possibly indicating pain].

Given the changes in the eye, the falcon’s eye will need to be removed. Surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 22. Once the falcon fully heals from the surgery in August, the outreach staff will begin glove-training the falcon to be an educational ambassador.

July 9, 2014

Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 continues to eat well and gain weight at the Wildlife Center. On July 7, Dr. Rich re-examined the falcon’s injured left eye. Last week, there was a large blood clot present in the bird’s eye, which prevented a full evaluation of all of the structures in the back of the eye. This week, the clot has developed into a band of connective tissue in the middle portion of the bird’s eye. With so much damage sustained to the eye, the Peregrine Falcon has been deemed non-releasable.

The Center veterinarians will continue to monitor the falcon’s injury in the coming weeks. If the injured eye deteriorates, the bird's eye might need to be surgically removed. After the veterinary staff determine the course of treatment required and the bird is medically stable, the Center staff will begin working with the bird as an educational ambassador candidate.


June 30, 2014

Dr. Rich examined the injured eye of Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 again this morning. He found that while the blood in the front portion of the eye has cleared, there is still a large blood clot in the middle part of the bird’s eye. This means that the falcon did sustain some damage to her iris and surrounding structures, but Dr. Rich still cannot see all of the structures in the back of the eye to see the extent of the injuries and assess any permanent damage. At this point, it is very likely that the Peregrine Falcon is non-releasable.

The bird is eating well, and the rehabilitation staff will be increasing the amount of food to keep up with the falcon’s high metabolism. Dr. Rich and the veterinary team will continue to periodically monitor the peregrine’s eye. If the bird is non-releasable, once the injury is medically stable, the Wildlife Center outreach team will assess the bird’s suitability to become an education ambassador at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.


June 23, 2014

Dr. Rich re-checked the injured eye of Peregrine Falcon #14-1319 on the morning of June 23. The inflammation of the bird’s eye has improved, but the blood in the bird’s eye has not yet resolved enough for a complete evaluation. Dr. Rich will re-check the falcon’s eye in another week; at that point he should be able to fully see all the structures of the eye and determine if there is a permanent visual deficit. The falcon continues to receive pain medication for the eye injury.

Otherwise, the peregrine is bright, alert, and feisty. The rehabilitation staff has been offering the bird a diet of chopped mice and chicks due to the beak injury. The peregrine is still adapting to this captive diet; she’s eaten a small amount of chopped mice.

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