Kendallville NEWS SUN Covers Peregrine Release

Injured bird returned to soar once again over Emma Lake

By Patrick Redmond predmond@kpcmedia.com

Nov 19, 2019   Photo Contributed

EMMA —Lisa Royal came home one day in late September and discovered a real surprise sitting out of her parents’ Emma Lake house right next door.

A large bird of prey was sitting on a woodpile next to her parents’ house. The bird was intense, but injured, and could not fly away.

“It watched every move we made but didn’t make any moves to get away from us. It was hurting,” she explained.

Royal quickly suspected the bird wasn’t just your average ordinary bird of prey. She’s seen eagles and ospreys fish Emma Lake, so a quick online check convinced Royal she had a Peregrine Falcon on her hands.

Royal said she’s heard about the Fort Wayne Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation program and found the group’s number and made a call.

Within an hour later, Soarin’ Hawk’s Bill Oberg showed up and with a little help from Royal’s family captured the injured animal. Even though the bird was unable to fly, it didn’t surrender without a fight. Royal said it took three people to corner the bird to get it into a crate. It was then taken to Soarin’ Hawk’s facilities just outside of Fort Wayne to be nursed back to health.

A Soarin’ Hawk veterinarian determined that the bird was an unbanded juvenile Peregrine Falcon that had been shot. The shot left the bird unable to fly because it broke a large bone in its wing. It also suffered an injured foot.

Royal said she knew about Soarin’ Hawk because she and her neighbors have been watching eagles and ospreys fishing Emma Lake. She said an online search for more information about birds of prey led her to discover the website for the Fort Wayne-based raptor rehab organization.

“When we found this bird, it was like I know who we should call,” she remembered. “It’s a wonderful organization.”

Once widespread across the United States, peregrines vanished from the eastern half of the country 50 years ago largely because of the use of DDT, a chemical used to kill insects. Peregrines, like other birds of prey, made a comeback because federal laws removed DDT, and state agencies like the Indiana Department of Nature Resources started programs to repopulate the birds in Indiana. The first breeding pair of peregrines in Northeast Indiana was released in Fort Wayne in 1996.

Royal’s bird spent the last six weeks rehabbing and preparing to be released back into the wild. And on Saturday, Soarin’ Hawk volunteers brought the young bird back to LaGrange County, back to Royal’s backyard to release it back into the wild. Royal called that one of the best days ever.

“That was so exciting. First of all, it was so lightning fast,” she said. “I was trying to take pictures and going click, click, click, click and before I knew he was coming at me, going around me and flying out southwest of the lake.”

Royal said she wants to make sure people are aware that birds like the eagles, ospreys and now Peregrine Falcons are returning to the area, and an organization like Soarin’ Hawk is there to help should those birds need a helping hand.

“I want to make sure that people know it’s illegal to shoot a bird of prey. This is a federally protected bird and it’s a federal offense to harm that bird,” she said.

Royal said she and her husband spent most of Sunday looking out of their home’s windows, hoping to catch one more glimpse of the peregrine flying over the lake.

Watch the release here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19ROBq-G5OhqP1H9sgG7wTIEqlI2IL5yK/view?usp=sharing