When one woman found an injured baby bird on the sidewalk, she knew that she had to help. So she took the fledgling to a local animal rescue center. Little did she know, however, that she’d just made a very special discovery.
In 2014 imgur user Jevausie was on her way home from work in Louisville, Kentucky, when she noticed something strange. You see, there, on the sidewalk, was a tiny little bird. And Jevausie instinctively knew that the animal was in trouble.
So, Jevausie approached the bird to get a better look at what was going on. As the woman edged nearer, she thought that the animal might fly away in fright. The bird, though, simply puffed up his chest and backed off.
And that was when Jevausie realized that the bird was just a baby and therefore was probably unable to fly. The rescuer reasoned, then, that the little creature had most likely fallen from his nest and was unable to get back there. Moreover, on closer inspection, Jevausie could see that the fledgling was in fact a bird of prey.
As a result, Jevausie decided to contact Raptor Rehab in Louisville. The nearby nonprofit organization rescues up to 300 hurt, orphaned and sick birds of prey each and every year. Furthermore, of the birds that the center rehabilitate, more than 60 percent are released into the wild.
Raptor Rehab began work in the 1980s and has always been run by an army of volunteers. However, the rescue organization do rely on members of the public to contact them about injured birds. Often, the animals have been hit by cars or they’ve flown into windows.
But those hazards aren’t the only dangers that raptors face. Indeed, despite there being laws in place to protect the birds, Raptor Rehab have rescued animals that people have poisoned or even shot.
Another problem that the staff at the shelter face is “imprinting.” Often, when people rescue young birds, the fledgling looks at that human and believes that they are their parent. Sadly, in these cases the animals think that they are human and will therefore never be suitable for release.
With that in mind, Jevausie had to be extremely cautious while transporting the little bird that she’d found. So, she carefully captured the fledgling in a blanket before securing him in a dog crate. Now, she could easily transfer the bird without having to handle him too much.
And on their way to the shelter, Jevausie kept a close eye on the chick. “He did not appear to be injured, though he was very frightened,” she reported on imgur. “They told me that the way he was laying on his side was his way of ‘playing dead’ so predators would lose interest.”
When the pair arrived at Raptor Rehab, Jevausie hoped that she may have saved the little bird’s life. Indeed, staff told her that it was unlikely he would have survived where she’d found him in downtown Louisville. There, the chick would have had to battle traffic and stray cats, and he had no mother to protect him.
Once the bird arrived at the rescue center, though, volunteers checked him over for illness and injuries. And after the raptor’s health check, staff allowed Jevausie to finally give the baby a name. Subsequently, she settled on the moniker “Viktor,” after the Harry Potter character Viktor Krum.
But despite the no doubt stressful situation for Viktor, he still behaved himself throughout the entire process. “Even though he was frightened and doing his best to warn us off, Viktor was pretty calm,” Jevausie wrote on imgur. “He never tried to bite and only once [tried] to escape.”
Nonetheless, there was still a surprise in store for Jevausie. You see, the rescuer had believed that the fledgling was a peregrine falcon. However, Viktor turned out to be an American kestrel – the smallest but most abundant falcon in North America.
Yet despite currently being quite common, the American kestrel’s future is far from certain. Indeed, the species’ numbers are in decline due to a lack of suitable nesting places. Every life that Raptor Rehab can save is an important one, then.
As a result, to give Viktor the best chance of a release, he went to live with a foster family. Yes, the rescue center had the perfect pair of adoptive parents: American kestrels Pinky Lee and Jack. Unfortunately, the duo aren’t suitable for release themselves, though, owing to the fact that they’ve been imprinted. Someone had attempted to train them for falconry but eventually gave up and took them to Raptor Rehab.
Since then, Pinky Lee and Jack have taken many chicks under their wings and have raised the fledglings into adulthood. Happily, this has allowed volunteers to later release some of the young birds into the wild. Little Viktor, then, found himself in very good hands.
Because Viktor was so young, though, staff expected that he would stay with Pinky Lee and Jack for some time. Indeed, they would probably care for him all through the cold winter months. That way, he would have the best shot at surviving upon his release in the springtime.
As a result, Jevausie felt reassured that she was leaving Viktor in the best possible hands. “After Viktor got settled, the volunteers took me on a full tour of their facilities,” she revealed. “They take great care of these majestic creatures. Many of their rescues have long since exceeded the captive life expectancy for their species!”
And with that, Jevausie left Viktor to his recovery, safe in the knowledge that he would one day know freedom. “They will call me before releasing him back into his natural habitat,” she continued. “[And] I can call to check up on him any time or even visit during their public hours.” Hopefully, then, Viktor will live a long and happy life.