Thursday, April 1, 2010

Meet Nova

I just got home from a walk to my bank. Forgot it was the first of the month and had to put some money in an account before the auto withdrawal that comes out of that account every first of the month! It's a beautiful afternoon, by the way, warm and sunny although rather windy but it's a warm wind which makes it quite tolerable.

As I walked into the bank branch, I was dismayed to see a line up of at least eight people (I've never had more than one person in line in front of me at this particular branch before - I guess the combination of the long weekend and the first of the month brought everybody out). But I was quickly distracted by the sight of a young guy holding...are you ready?...a peregrine falcon!!

Of course I went right over to see what was what, especially since no one else seemed to be paying any attention to them, even though everyone noticed they were there. It was kind of funny and sad to watch, really - how people would look, do a bit of a double take and then turn away. Doesn't anyone have any curiosity any more? Never mind that it was a beautiful bird, no more than a foot high and rather small in size, not at all threatening - not to humans, anyway!

The guy's name was Kyle and he introduced me to Nova, who is a male about 10 months old. Kyle works with The Canadian Peregrine Foundation and takes the bird to schools and places like the bank (who is one of their sponsors) so people can learn about the birds and the Foundation's various programs. (for a bit of amusement, move your cursor, you'll see a bird flying around).

If you click here, you can see Nova's web page which has pictures of him when he was first born. He doesn't look at all like he did when he was a tiny, fluffy baby covered in downy white fluff! (okay, "fluff" probably isn't the scientific name for it.) Here's a closeup of how pretty he is now. He's not fully mature yet, which will take another year or two. Apparently his feathers and markings will change colour as he gets to be an adult but he won't get any larger.

I was sorely tempted to touch his beautiful feathers but I restrained myself. He seemed quite calm but his eyes were always in motion as he checked everything out. Kyle stroked his feet with his bare right hand from time to time while we talked and sprayed him with water (to keep him cool), which Nova really liked. The feathers around his face started to puff out, which meant he was enjoying himself, and then he gave himself a big shake.

He eats quail meat, which is gamier than chicken and doesn't have all the artificial ingredients added to it that commercial chicken does, so it's better for the birds.

Peregrine falcons came close to extinction back in the 1960's as the result of DDT poisoning but conservation efforts have helped in reversing the trend. Not everyone knows that there are several nesting pairs of peregrine falcons in the Toronto area, two of them right in the heart of downtown. If you click on the "Live Webcam" link on the Foundation's website, you can see the locations and see what the birds are up to.

All in all, a very exciting trip to the bank! As much as part of me rebels at the thought of any wild animal living in captivity, I recognize the importance of programs like this in preserving various species and I am grateful for the opportunity to see this magnificient creature up close and personal!

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