When they first opened their eyes the young kestrels visualized humans, instead of their parents. When Callie arrived at the Avian Reconditioning Center as a young Kestrel, it was apparent she was imprinted by the way she would constantly beg for food. Had they been placed with other members of their own species they would have imprinted on them and remained wild.
As an Education Ambassador at the Avian Reconditioning Center, Callie has enjoyed showing off her pretty colors and markings, as well as her petite figure, to students of all ages. Although she has mostly sat on her wooden perch during these educational programs, Callie is also able to fly from glove to glove with the sound of a whistle!
Sparky was transferred to the Avian Reconditioning Center from a respected rehab center for evaluation for release. Even though the bones of his wing had healed, his caretakers were unsure if he was strong enough to survive in the wild, and it was decided that falconry traning, and a bit of hunting experience, would determine of the bird was healthy enough to release. Glove training began, and Sparky learned quickly, being a very personable bird, and eager to learn. Unfortunately, he was never able to begin the hunting portion of falconry training.
Even though he was brought to a rehabilitation center, treated quickly, and his bones set by a skilled veterinarian, Sparky will never be released. Because of damage to not only the bones of his wing, but the nerves as well, he is unable to grow new primarys, or flight feathers, on his right wing. After his first molt, he did not grow in new primaries. Without the crucial flight feathers on one side of his body, he is unable to fly very far, or very well, and would never be strong enough to hunt and be sucessful in the wild.
Sparky now enjoys meeting the public on Saturdays, along with his other falcon roomates at the Avian Reconditioning Center. Although he is unable to fly, he is a beautiful example of a male Peregrine Falcon, and has taught many people about the importance of raptors.
Watson was probably on his first migration when he struck something, possibly a building or tree, and injured his left wing. One of the smallest falcons, Merlins are very quick, and he was probably chasing a small bird at high speed, when he had his accident.
Despite efforts to repair his wing, it healed with a noticeable droop, which left Watson with poor flight ability. He would not be able to fly well enough in the wild to provide for himself, so ARC adopted him as an education ambassador.
A beautiful and unique bird, Merlins are not often seen in Florida due to the small size and quick flight, and Watson is a joy to watch. He jumps quickly to food at dinner time, and his favorite meal is quail. In the heat of the summer, he loves nothing more than his bath dish, where he daily soaks himself from beak to tail!
Gremlin came to stay at ARC after living with a falconer for 14 years, who could no longer care for her. In this instance, the Avian Reconditioning Center is acting as a sort of retirement home for Gremlin, and she will be at the center for the rest of her life. It is not known how long Gyr-Peregrine hybrids can live, but the oldest ones have lived to be about 14 years old. Since Gremlin is nearing 16 years of age, she is quite the distinguished lady!
For many years, Gremlin was an accomplished and experienced falconry bird, and had reportedly never missed a duck. Later in her life, she became sick with aspergillosis, a lung disease which is nearly fatal in all birds without rapid care. Thankfully, Gremlin was treated quickly and fully recovered from her illness. Unfortunately, the effects of asper remain with the bird for the rest of their lives, and she was left too weak to hunt any longer.
Gyrfalcons and Peregrins are more cold-weather birds, so in the hot Florida summertime, Gremlin enjoys staying in her air-conditioned room and keeping cool. While outside or on programs, she loves to be misted with a nearby water bottle, and never says no to a bath.
On the flip side, while other birds are taken inside when the weather turns chilly, Gremlin happily moves to an outside mew, where she frolics in the nippy weather.
In the fall and winter months, Cora often free flies at the Center, flying to a lure attached to a kite or balloon. The kite and balloon are used to train falcons to fly high into the air to catch their prey. This is a technique used at ARC to build strength in rehab falcons, as they quickly get stronger when climbing hundreds of feet each day!
Cora makes the climb look like childs play, and often takes her time, soaring through the sky, and maybe taking a break on the roof of one of our housing mews!
Eli was transferred to the Avian Reconditioning Center from another rehab facility for evaluation for release. Unfortunately, we found that he had become imprinted on people. This was due to the fact that they were unable to house him with other kestrels at the other facility, and he only ever saw humans during his crucial growth period.
Raptors grow very fast, and if they're not placed with other birds of the same species, they grow up without knowing what they are, essentially without learning how to be a proper bird. Although Eli is physically healthy, he would not have the skills needed to survive in the wild.
After our evaluation, Eli was transfered to yet another facility, and lived there happily for several years. Recently, the facility where Eli was living downsized, and he came back to live with us at ARC! Everyone was happy to see this little kestrel again, and now you can meet both male and female kestrels at the Avian Reconditioning Center.
Eli is a very calm kestrel, and enjoys teaching people all about our wonderful Florida birds of prey.
(Photo by Jack Rogers)
Nikto still has his juvenile coloring, and is an excellent example of a young falcon, with long pointed wings for speed, and a notched beak for snaring prey. He's also quite vocal, since he's young, and before flying will often screech for food, and cluck at his falconer. When he becomes a full adult, he will have blueish-grey plumage, much like the adult Peregrine falcon!
Nikto often flies at ARC on the weekends, when the weather is nice, and loves putting on a show. He can fly hundreds of feet into the air to either a kite or balloon, with a lure attached. This is a technique used at ARC to build strength in rehab falcons, as they quickly get stronger when climbing hundreds of feet each day!
He also likes to fly to the lure on the ground, and is an accomplished hunter in the field. Since we can't fly birds under rehabilitation for the public, Nikto helps by putting on flight demonstrations, so you can see what we do at ARC to help injured birds grow stronger. Come out to ARC sometime and meet Nikto!
Adopting of one of our education raptors will help fund their care and feeding as well as to support our vital rehabilitation efforts. Please visit Adopt-a-Bird to learn more about this program and how you can help.