Merlin Photo © Glori Berry; Courtesy of Avian Haven, Freedom ME
Eleanor presents here, her story about how a community worked together to save an injured falcon using proper capture and transport procedures and brought it to a licensed and highly qualified avian rehabilitation facility – Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine.
A pair of Merlins (a variety of falcon) moved this spring into a tree at 49 Pleasant Avenue (Ed and Elaine back yard). Neighbors often saw them this spring and early summer surveying their kingdom from the top of several tall trees in the neighborhood, occasionally with the remains of a songbird in a talon.
One day, there were suddenly four Merlins. Two of them appeared to be smaller, and we assumed they were fledglings from the commotion, ineffectual flappings, and constant high cries going back and forth between the adults and younger birds.
And then one day, there were only three birds. At the same time, there was a small flurry of exchanges in Next Door Neighbor when Rory Sellers posted a picture asking whether anyone could identify a bird he’d seen sitting in his yard. Some thought it was a Cooper’s Hawk; others thought maybe a Sharp-shinned Hawk. But it was not one of the missing Merlins.
Then Annie O’Brien posted this on July 31st: “Lois Tiedeken and I were driving to yoga and came upon a hawk in the middle of Pleasant Street. It couldn't fly; it appears to have a broken wing. We called a wildlife rescue organization called Avian Haven in Freedom, who asked us to capture and transport it to Portland.”
Fortunately for the bird - which turned out to be the missing Merlin - Lois and Annie found him/her near Margo Lodge’s house at 36 Pleasant Avenue. Margo has rescued many birds and animals in her life and instructed Lois and Annie in the best way to capture it in a blanket. They got it safely into a banana box, where the bird was looking quite stunned and shocked. They put a piece of Styrofoam over the top of the box to keep it contained, and by the time they got it to Lois’s boat, the young Merlin had revived and was looking out the holes in the box.
Lois and Annie met a volunteer from Avian Haven at the dock on the Portland side, and the volunteer drove the bird to Freedom, Maine. Here’s the rest of the story, from Marc Payne at Avian Haven.
The young Merlin had a fractured coracoid, part of the avian shoulder girdle. The staff at Avian Haven knew it was a fledgling because the cere (the fleshy part of the nostrils around the beak) was still blue, which changes color after the first year of life. Marc said that the merlin recovered fast and was released on August 14th in Belfast.
Meanwhile back at his/her old neighborhood, the three remaining Merlins stayed for another week and then disappeared. When asked, Marc Payne said they hadn’t left because they felt this was an inhospitable place. Apparently, this is the time of year that Merlins migrate, so it’s likely they were already heading south. Merlin parents do not encourage their fledglings to stick around, and this is one of the highest risk times for the birds—kind of like when teenagers first get their driver’s licenses, he said.
When Merlins migrate, they go as far as the Caribbean and South America. Sometimes they return to neighborhoods if they particularly like where they’ve been. Sometimes they find new digs. They don’t build their own nests, but tend to use old crow nests.
The Pleasant Avenue neighborhood will be on the lookout for Merlins next spring and will let Patty Wainright know if any are sighted. And in the meantime, Avian Haven (207) 382-6761, who presently are caring for 1800 birds, are a wonderful resource if you come upon an injured bird. Lois Tiedeken says, “Perhaps some bird lovers would like to become one of their helpers, or to donate to this responsive, well run, practical, and effective organization.
Quoted from Avian Haven’s Website:
“Avian Haven was incorporated as a nonprofit organization by Marc Payne and Diane Winn in February, 1999. Since that time, our annual caseload has increased from about 300 to about 1700 in 2014, making us one of the largest rehabilitation practices in New England. All told to date, nearly 12,000 birds from more than 100 species have been treated at Avian Haven. Diane and Marc remain managers and core of the year round staff.
While Avian Haven works closely with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the state or the federal government does not financially support it. The non-profit center is funded largely through donations, as well as grants.
Located in the small town of Freedom, the facility includes an indoor infirmary space and hospital, a full kitchen with food supplies to meet the need of all avian species, 14 outdoor flight cages, an all-season facility for aquatic birds. One of the most impressive buildings on the property is their large raptor compound with three rooms and a 160-foot flyway.
And they’re always looking for ways to better serve their wildlife patients. In 2015, they plan to build a modular habitat that has a flight cage for large corvids or small raptors.
People interested in helping can volunteer to transport injured animals; donate cash or goods such as first aid, cleaning supplies, artificial plants and microfiber cloth; or help the center with gardening and landscaping.” *
Their website is nicely designed, full of educational information and descriptive photographs of different bird species. In it is a flow chart designed to help one decide if an ‘injured or young bird in distress’ should be captured, how to do so, and how to treat it. Sometimes it is confusing to know when to intervene, and this flowchart is helpful. Go to their website and to their drop down menu: Bird Rescue. In it you will find ‘flow diagram’ (or click here) in the text. You can open it as a PDF file
Their facilities are impressive and designed to meet the needs of many different bird types that require a variety of spaces for flight and exercise. Their staff is well trained, devoted, and diligent. Advanced medical care is through a top veterinarian from Augusta. Their funding is from donations and grants.
Note: "As of August of this year, the case load at Avian Haven has reached over 1700 and will no doubt break 2,000 for 2015."
Personal Communication: Diane Winn
The last 2 paragraphs were written by Patty Wainright and the full document was reviewed by Sam Wainright, Eleanor, and Diane Winn.