Free Again

Injured peregrine falcon nursed to health at Tufts takes to the skies once more
Watch a video of the peregrine falcon as it was released from the Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton, Mass. Video: Steffan Hacker
May 6, 2013

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For many wild animals, a severe injury means certain death. But a young male peregrine falcon found on Nantucket last fall got lucky: someone noticed it tangled in electric wire, a bad wound to its breastbone exposing muscle and bone. The raptor received initial treatment at the Humane Society’s Cape Wildlife Clinic, and was soon transferred to the Cummings School’s Wildlife Clinic for in-depth care and rehabilitation.

The large wound slowly healed. To ensure the bird’s feathers regrew so it could return to its natural habitat, Tufts wildlife veterinarians applied a material that prevents scar tissue from forming. Without feathers, the falcon would not have been able to survive in the wild. As the feathers slowly regrew over the winter, the falcon was well enough come spring to test its wings in the Wildlife Clinic’s 100-foot flight cage.

It flew beautifully, and continued to build up strength over the next weeks. On May 1, veterinarians fitted the raptor with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife leg band, for future tracking, and set it free. The falcon didn’t hesitate, soaring quickly away from its temporary home for the past seven months.

Steffan Hacker can be reached at steffan.hacker@tufts.edu.