First Casualty

After the chicks make it through their first 10 days, we usually we have until the chicks are 35-40 days old before we have to worry about them again. Not this year though. Our first casualty of the year is one of the Logan chicks, the third of the Joli’s & Hart’s three females we banded. She and her brother were sitting on the ledge, a good distance away from the edge of the building and they had been doing so for an hour or more with no problems whatsoever. A gust of wind started blowing through and both of them did just what they should do which is tuck down to minimize their chances of getting blow off their feet. She was tucked down very nicely and then poof the wind caught her and rolled her right over the ledge edge. Surprised the heck out of her brother who hopped right off the ledge and back into the nest-tray to join his other sisters. End result is that she has broken her leg. Yup leg, not wing. Or at least that’s all that appears to be injured. She’s off to the vet for x-rays and exam to ensure nothing else is amiss and to assess the fracture. She may need surgery but can’t tell until the vet has had a good look at her. I hope that being young improves her chances but I it has been years since we had a leg injury to treat, so this is all new ground for me. It is also, yet again, an example of why the mortality for chicks is so high – 5 to 7 out of every 10 chicks will die in their first year. That’s not the mortality rate for urban nesting peregrines, that is the mortality rate for peregrines wherever they nest. And even though we take pains to find ways to improve the chicks’ safety while they are here, we can’t plan for or prevent everything that can happen to them. And this is exactly the kind of accident that can happen to a peregrine chick in the wild – a gust of wind blows across a cliff ledge and sweeps a chick off its feet, only difference here is the location of the ledge. And that we are much more likely to be able to rescue chicks that do get injured. So if we are lucky, the fracture is her only injury and it can be treated with some measure of success. Then with time and the expert help from our friends at Prairie Wildlife Rehab, she’ll recover and we can re-release her when she’s ready.

The other three Logan chicks are doing well, at the moment two are perched safely on the edge of the nest tray, the third, the lone male at this nestsite, is tucked down napping on his belly on the ledge right up against the back wall. Its always been a favoured spot for the chicks to sleep from this age until they leave their parents in a couple of months. After the nesting season, the adults like to tuck up there as well.

So for now, we just have to wait and see how our injured Logan chick does and we’ll keep an eye on, and our fingers crossed, that her siblings stay safe for the next month at least.

If waiting isn’t your strong suit and you would like to do something, please consider making a donation, large or small, to help with vet costs. There are now three peregrines in care – Beatrix who is still recovering from her foot infection, an unbanded bird that came injured from eastern Manitoba last week and now our Logan chick. We haven’t had this many birds on the injured list for years, so any help is greatly appreciated!