I was at work on Saturday, June 8th when I got the first group text message at 11:58…
Chad and Chris Saladin normally monitor all the Falcon nests in the greater Cleveland area. On that day, though, they were going to a graduation event. The timing was bad, as the young from the Hilliard Road nest in the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks were fledging. One youngster fledged on Friday and did not do well. Chad & Chris got someone from the Metropark to take it to Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. Chris was looking for anyone to go check on the other fledgling while they were away.
I texted back that I would go down in a couple hours.
My friend, and Medina Raptor Center volunteer, Annette Piekowski, got there first. She did not see anything and could not stay. My other friend, Rayka Petkova, got there next – about 1:30. She did not see the other fledgling at first, but then found it on a 4 ft. chain-link fence. The fence was around an area where the bridge above is crumbling and the powers-that-be thought it best to protect the many people who utilize the park. I texted her that it was fine right then. It was safe off the ground, mom and dad could feed it and she should just keep an eye on it.
I finished my work and got down there about 2:45. The youngster had flown down off the fence into the closed off area and was trying to climb the exposed rebar on the bridge supports. It moved around the supports trying to find a place to get up higher. Eventually it ran, hopped, and took a very short flight back to the fence. It made it part of the way up the fence – then climbed the rest of the way. We watched the parents come in and give it food and we surmised from her size that she was female.
At this point we contacted Annette again. We were curious about whether the youngster should be able to gain height when flying. Annette was at a party in Parma and said she could leave shortly. She would grab a crate and raptor gloves, and would be down as soon as she could. Meanwhile Rayka and I were trying to keep the multitude of people from walking too close and scaring the bird.
When Annette got there she had been talking to Chris and they had discussed that it was best to just wait and watch until it started to get dark. If she was still on the fence at that point then we would have to get her. So we got out our folding chairs and relaxed and watched her and the parents.
About quarter of 6 she flew down into the fenced-in area again, and once again tried to climb that rebar. This time when she went back to the fence she didn’t even try to fly, she just walked up to the fence and climbed it. It was about that time that we decided – with Chris’ texted guidance – that we really needed to take the bird in and have it examined. Her not even trying to fly could mean something is wrong.
Annette grabbed her gloves, her net, and a blanket and put on a hat. She handed us the net and blanket and told us to watch while she walked near the bird to see if it would fly. The young peregrine did not. So Annette reached out, grabbed its legs and safely gathered the screaming youngster into her arms. While the parents called and swooped over Annette’s head, we moved directly to Annette’s car and put the bird into the crate.
LENSC was closed, and Tim was unavailable, so Annette called Laura Jordan at Medina Raptor Center for advice. The youngster was holding her one wing droopy, so we wanted to get her looked at soon. Annette took her out to MRC, fed her a quail, and made sure she was safe until Laura got a chance to look at her. She is doing good and in a flight cage to build her strength. She’ll be released back at the Hilliard Road bridge in a day or so with her sibling.