PULLMAN, WA — For the first time this year (November 2009), a Peregrine falcon has been successfully released by Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine after the raptor made a full recovery from its injuries.
The falcon, nicknamed "Stephens" for the man who brought the injured bird in from Rosalia, suffered from two broken bones in one of its wings. A team of WSU volunteers and veterinarians nursed the falcon back to health without surgery. Instead, a series of bandages were used to hold the broken bones in place to allow them time to heal properly.
"Because Stephens was young, about a year old, the bones healed rather quickly," said Dr. Nickol Finch, who heads up the Raptor Rehabilitation Center at WSU. "By using extensive physical therapy we were able to heal the break and have the falcon ready to release in just 6 weeks."
Many Peregrine falcons fly south each winter. This injury has delayed Stephens' migration. His rehabilitation included a stay in the college’s new flight to rebuild his strength in order to be strong enough to resume his travels south. A steady diet also helped him regain his weight with an increase of nearly 15-percent.
The WSU team chose a location overlooking the Snake River North of Clarkston for his release this afternoon. The winds helped Stephens to rise quickly into the air. It is anticipated he will now travel south along his natural migratory route, before returning next spring. Crews attached a federally registered tag that will help keep track of Stephens should he ever be found.
You can support raptor rehabilitation at WSU through the college’s "Adopt-a-Raptor" program.
The money raised goes for the care and feeding of raptors that have been injured and cannot be released.