Monday, August 18, 2014

Blaze Flying to a New Facility

Well, not literally...but today we transferred Blaze (via automobile!) to another wildlife rehabilitation facility in Ohio.  The first order of business will be a week or two of observation and then if all checks out OK, she will be flight conditioned and offered live prey to learn her hunting skills.

Many, many thanks to Betty Ross and the staff at Glen Helen Raptor Center for caring for her up to now.  And thanks in advance to the staff at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary who will handle the next chapter in her care.  We truly appreciate the partnerships and teamwork amongst these dedicated wildlife rehabilitation professionals!
Meanwhile, downtown, Durand and Spark continue to maintain their territory.  There have been no sightings of the juveniles that I am aware of and it is possible that they may have left the Columbus area by now.   We are hoping for an update on the status of the building work soon.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Updates! Blaze and Building Maintenance

Just as we were finalizing plans to place Blaze at another wildlife rehabilitation facility for conditioning and training, it was discovered her left wing was drooping.  This was a surprise since she had more or less just been resting in an enclosure.  So, off to the veterinarian again she went.  Unfortunately, it is still somewhat a mystery as everything with her checks out fine-there is no swelling or fracture of any bone.  The veterinarian suspects nerve damage from the initial impact that has interfered with her flight development all along.  So, for now, continued rest and anti-inflammatory medication is on the agenda for at least the next week.

On another note, work will begin this Saturday (August 2) on the exterior of the Rhodes State Office Tower.  Crews will be conducting a detailed inspection of the façade of the building using a "swing stage" to suspend workers much the same way as the windows are routinely washed on the building.  The work is expected to continue through mid-to-late August, depending on weather conditions.  Wind, heavy rain and lightning could cause delays.

Therefore, beginning today, Friday, August 1st, the cameras will be turned off to accommodate the inspection process.  The Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has been working with us to ensure that the peregrines are not affected by the project.  Since the young peregrines have fledged, are flying successfully and by now are independent of the adults and the nest ledge we don't expect there to be any issues.  The DAS and Division of Wildlife will be monitoring the falcons during the duration of the project.  We'll post updates here as information becomes available and certainly get the cameras back in operation as soon as the project is complete.  We apologize in advance for any inconvenience to viewers and appreciate every one's patience!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Confirmation on Dart!

Last Wednesday, there was an unexpected visit to the ledge by Dart!   He was very cooperative and sat on the ledgecam platform so that his identity could be confirmed via leg band codes:

We were definitely glad to know he is alive and well.  Hoshi also has been seen on the ledge several times since fledging.  As recently as Monday there was yet another sighting of a juvenile on the ledge, although there was no confirmation of which young falcon it was.
Durand and Spark have been fairly active at the nest ledge also--checking in, scraping in the nest box and generally just being present.  These behaviors serve to continue their bond to each other and the territory.  Here they were recently:
Blaze remains in rehab.  She is doing quite well and has recovered from the keel issue and is now fully capable of flight.  At least on paper, she is ready to be released.  But timing is everything in these cases and unfortunately, timing is not good for Blaze.  The quandary is, when she was grounded and taken in for evaluation, she had not yet learned to hunt on her own.   She has been gone from the territory for an extended length of time during a key period in the nesting cycle (when the juveniles become independent of the adults) that there is a definite concern with releasing her back in the downtown area.  As mentioned above, Durand and Spark have shifted gears from raising youngsters to bonding with each other and the site so they probably would no longer provide food for Blaze.  In fact, there is the possibility that they might even consider her an intruder into the territory and could be aggressive towards her, were she to be released back in Columbus, especially at or near the nest site. 
So, for now she remains in limbo while we evaluate all the options for release.  We'll continue to post here as the outcome is determined.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Status Report on Blaze

Nothing much new to report on Blaze other than we were hoping she would have started getting active and doing her own exercising by now.  Since she hasn't, rehab staff will begin working with her several times a day to get her flying and working those muscles.  For the most part, it is pretty much a wait and see situation.

On another note, we are still (occasionally) seeing a juvenile return to the ledge, presumably Hoshi.  It's actually not really that common for the fledglings (now old enough to technically not be considered fledglings any longer) to keep coming back to the nest ledge as we have seen this year...but nonetheless it is appreciated by all watching!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

More On Blaze

We have received an update on Blaze. It appears that Blaze has an issue with her keel.  For those that don't know, the keel is an extension of the breastbone (highlighted in blue below). The keel provides an anchor where bird's wing muscles attach, this provides the leverage needed for flight. Not all birds have keels, flightless birds lack a keel structure.
Through a detailed examination including x-rays, it was discovered that Blaze's keel is knobby and thickened at the top on both sides. This could be a developmental issue, but most likely traumatic. She may have hit the ground or a building on one of her first flights.  This early undetectable injury is the reason she hasn't had the strength to stay up.  There is no other sign of trauma.  She flaps both wings well and perches with no problems.

The vet who examined the bird did say that since she is young, it is possible the keel will reform or she will build up enough strength to overcome her injuries. But nothing is for certain.

Right now she is at a wildlife rehabilitation facility where she has an 80 foot flight cage.  She can fly the length of the cage, but it's difficult for her.  She needs time and that's what we are going to give her.  She is eating well and able to maneuver to high perches without any assistance.  We will update the blog as new information becomes available but for now she will stay put and hopefully recover for a release later this summer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blaze Grounded Again

It has been an exciting day! Just when we were hoping that all of the young falcons had earned their pilots licenses we learn that one may need to take some remedial training...  Here's the scoop:

We received a call this morning that one of the fledglings was located in a parking lot behind the Rhodes Tower. Upon arrival we learned it was Blaze that needed assistance...again.  Here is the story as reported in The Columbus Dispatch
KUDOS!! to Betty for recognizing this as a falcon situation that needed to be reported, AND taking the time to call us AND remaining on the scene to keep the falcon safe from harm until we were able to get there.
As was was alluded to in other posts, the first thing we do when we get a peregrine in hand is to check it for injury.  Signs we look for include drooping wing(s), bleeding, feathers missing or out of place, bruising or scrapes on elbows and/or the cere (where the beak meets the head, akin to our nose).  These injury indicators are obvious.  But some times an injury can be internal and subtle and requires the use of x-rays to properly diagnose.  Again today, Blaze did not appear to be injured but since this was her third rescue, it was decided that she needed to be transported to a wildlife rehabilitator for further evaluation.  We will provide updates of her condition/prognosis as information becomes available.

Meanwhile, an update on the other nest mates...
Hoshi seems to be doing very well and has returned to the nest ledge on several occasions.  Most recently, she was confirmed visiting the ledge late Sunday afternoon, June 22.
There have been no sightings or reports of Dart, so we assume all is well.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blaze Gets High With a Little Help From Her Friends

Well, it seems we are not finished with the rescue calls just yet.

Late yesterday afternoon, I was working an event downtown with fellow Division of Wildlife staff when the Franklin County Wildlife Officer, Brad Kiger received a call. The report came in that a banded bird was on the ground in a parking garage near Front and State Streets.  From the band description it was definitely one of the juvenile falcons.  Upon arrival, Blaze was perched under a railing inside the garage.  She didn't appear to have any injuries. At this age, young falcons don't know the "equipment" (talons, beak, wings, etc.) they have and aren't skilled in getting away quickly.  So most times they aren't difficult to capture--and today was no exception.  Once we had her in hand and checked her out (no apparent injuries, scrapes or bruises) we decided to put her back out on the nest ledge.

Parking garages can be tricky for wildlife to navigate.  If you think about it, they are like a dark maze with no cheese at the end.  It is possible Blaze was chasing prey and mistakenly followed it into the garage or perhaps she just took a wrong turn in general.  At any rate, this "Trouble" bird got a second trip back to "Start."

A Big Thanks to the garage attendants who knew enough to contact us when they first noticed Blaze in the garage.  And thanks to our wildlife officers who make it a priority to assist wildlife management in peregrine falcon rescue situations.