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July 9, 2015

CL chick moved to wildlife center

The CL peregrine chick is being cared for at the wildlife center.

The CL peregrine chick is being cared for at the wildlife center.

The peregrine falcon chick that hatched this spring from the Cathedral of Learning nest is displaying neurological deficits and receiving “supportive care” at the Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center & Shelter, where it will remain indefinitely.

Center director Jill M. Argall said the bird is being given “every possible chance” to be released to the wild, but no decisions have been made. “We’re considering it a long-term rehab patient until it proves otherwise,” she said.

A game commission officer brought the peregrine fledgling to the wildlife rehab center on June 25 after it was found outside Hillman Library. “When it arrived it was emaciated and dehydrated,” Argall said. It was missing some secondary and covert feathers, which affected its ability to fly.

Those feathers have since begun to grow in, she said. Of greater concern, however, is its lack of beak-eye coordination. A veterinary exam revealed no apparent visual impairment, but the bird “misses” when it reaches for food, she said. “If it were in the wild now, it would not survive.”

An exam when the bird was banded in May found some weakness in one of the bird’s feet (see June 11 University Times). Argall said that although the bird is perching, the foot remains weak, which could interfere with its ability to live in the wild. Because peregrines hunt by catching small birds in flight, “they need both sets of talons,” Argall said.

The chick’s neurological deficits are suspected to have a developmental cause, but the center is awaiting the results of blood tests for toxins such as lead. A chemical cause isn’t suspected, “but we’re covering all bases,” she said.

For now, the bird is being hand-fed and living in a large indoor enclosure. Argall said the approach to its care is “wait and see, day by day.” As the bird progresses, it will be offered larger chunks of food or given the opportunity to feed itself, she said. “We’re letting the bird show us what it can do.”

Argall said the center has received requests from people wanting to visit the bird, but the facility isn’t open to visitors. Those interested in the bird’s progress can find updates on the peregrine by “liking” the Animal Rescue League Center & Shelter Facebook page.

—Kimberly K. Barlow  

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