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Rescued raptor finds fertile hunting ground

An injured falcon nursed back to health last year has decided to stay in Bermuda, zoologists have revealed.

A tracker device has shown the peregrine falcon, christened Milly after she was found weak an underweight last November, and which was released back into the wild later that month after being cared for at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, had stuck around.

Patrick Talbot, the curator at BAMZ, said in the summer edition of the Envirotalk newsletter that peregrine falcons were usually only temporary visitors.

Mr Talbot said: “She seems to prefer the East End of Bermuda, spending the majority of her time around Harrington Sound and the Mid Ocean Club golf course.

“We have been able to go out periodically to check on her and she seems to be faring well. As she is still a young bird it is unclear if and when she will leave the island, but recent identification by an expert believes she is of the tundrius race.

“This group of peregrines nests in the tundra in the summer then migrates to South America in the fall and are well adapted for long-distance travel.”

He added that the species started to breed aged 3, which means Milly could soon leave in search of a mate.

Mr Talbot said: “If not, then she will hopefully help control the feral pigeon population on the island.

“And, if her present movements are any indication, she would be a St George's supporter.”

Milly — named after the Star Wars spaceship Millennium Falcon — was found by a member of the public on the ground at Spittal Pond in Smith's and rescued by BAMZ staff.

But Mr Talbot added the bird's survival still hung in the balance.

He said: “While our animal care staff have extensive experience with seabirds and small perching birds, raptors are rare accessions into our rehabilitation programme and they normally arrive in such bad shape that they seldom survive.”

He added Milly was “extremely underweight” when rescued, but after two weeks of intensive care she was back to the weight of an average adult falcon.

Mr Talbot said: “During her rehab she was offered a daily menu of large mice, which we stock for animals in our zoo collection, and fitted with a steel leg band with a unique number as an identifier.

“Due to the rarity of acquiring a raptor capable of being released back to the wild, we saw this as a valuable opportunity to put a tracking tag on her.”

The solar-powered tags, paid for US charity the Atlantic Conservation Partnership, uses GPS technology to give a pinpoint location.

The information will help researchers learn more about the movement of migrant raptors in Bermuda, as well as details of where they go when they leave.

Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals on earth and have recorded diving speeds of 240mph when on the hunt.

They are the most common variety of birds of prey, but are not often seen in Bermuda.

Temporary residence: Milly, the Peregrine falcon

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Published June 29, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated June 29, 2020 at 8:57 am)

Rescued raptor finds fertile hunting ground

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