Beth Grounds Again and Releasing Lesley

Lesley and I Get Ready for a Vet VisitI got up bright and early this morning in order to get to Dr. B.’s office at 8am. The chick (which I decided to ask Mary if we could name “Lesley” and she happily assented) spent a nice quiet night at The Warehouse and seemed fine, still, this morning. I decided not to switch to the smaller carrier, realizing that the action would a.) stress Lesley out needlessly, b.) make it harder for Dr. B. to remove her for her check-up and c.) make it harder for Mary to remove her during release.

Sean asked to snap a few shots before we left and then the three of us were on our way to Dr. B.’s office. Sean stayed with me at the vet until his ride, Brian, came to pick him up for work. With one last look at Lesley, he headed off.

Mary was running a bit late, so Lesley and I sat in the waiting room for a bit and boy, did she get attention. It’s customary, I’ve found, for people waiting in a vet’s waiting room to look at each other’s pets. My carrier, of course, had a covering over it, so people asked what I had. When I responded, “Fledgling falcon,” they were, of course, taken aback. I gave a few quick peeks but mostly tried to keep Lesley covered and quiet. But, what a celebrity she was!

Mary arrived at 8:30am and we joined Dr. B. and his assistant Chris in one of the exam rooms. Dr. B. donned leather gloves and extracted Lesley from the carrier easily. He and Chris looked her over and then, quite kindly, secured a blood sample for the museum DNA bank. Lesley checked out just fine. Mary started the banding process just as my cell phone rang. On the line: EPA Dan.

“Steph! Dan! Preston and I are on LaSalle outside a bank. Another chick is down over here. We’ve got her in a box.”

“Ugh! Is it one of the prison chicks?”

“K/4-something on the leg band?”

“Yep, that’s a prison chick. How does she look?”

“We’re a little worried about her, to be honest! She is laying down and she didn’t struggle as much when we picked her up.”

“Hmmm,” I said, stepping out of the exam room. “Ok. Well, we’re at Dr. B.’s office. The other chick looks fine and we’ll be over your way to release her in, probably, 15 minutes. We’ll take this one from you then and get her checked out. She might just be stunned or dehydrated.”

“Great! Oh, um…” Dan paused and I could hear him talking to someone – in fact, someones. “Hey, yeah. Would you mind talking to this security guard over here? They are a bit … worried about us taking the chick. Can you just explain who we are and that we’re with you guys?”

Dan Cozza (P. Kendall)Sure, I would. Of course. The security guard came on the line a second later and I explained who we were and facts about the program. I also gave her numbers she could call at the museum to verify all the information. Satisfied, she told me that she and her partner had called animal control some time ago and had been protecting the chick ever since. Apparently, a number of people tried to pick her up. I thanked her for being so dilligent and assured her that we were on our way and she could let Dan and Preston go with the chick.

On our way over in the car, I explained the situation to Mary. When we got to the EPA building lobby, Dan and Preston waved. Dan held a file box with holes in the top, which I took from him after we cleared security.

Mary Releases LesleyAgain, our entourage trouped up to the roof of the EPA building with our two chicks in tow. The crowd stayed back as Mary went far out on the roof to release Lesley. Unlike her sister, Wendy, who had to be extracted from the box with great effort, Lesley virtually flew out of the carrier. Mary backed off quickly and we watched as Lesley sprinted across the roof, finally hiding behind a smoke stack.

In silence, we all waited. After a few moments, Lesley peeked around the smokestack, looking right at us. Kendall snapped the above picture, which is one of my favorite pictures from this season. She promptly disappeared back behind the smokestack.

Are they gone yet? (P. Kendall)I felt a tap on my shoulder. Mary motioned to the box holding the other chick and quietly said, “Yeah, we need to get her looked at. Let’s transfer her to the carrier, ok? Really quick and quiet.”

While everyone waited and watched for Lesley’s re-emergence, Mary and I quietly transferred the other chick to the carrier. She squawked and beat her wings during the transfer and I noticed her eyes seemed bright, not dull. That, I decided, was a good sign. She did lay down in the carrier, however, so we knew we needed to get her to the hospital.

Just about then, Lesley came out from behind the smokestack. With a look at the distant crowd that I can only describe as defiant, she opened her wings and assumed her most majestic pose. The crowd signaled appreciation. She held the pose a moment and then took off running.

Majestic FalconSince both her sisters had stayed on the roof, I didn’t expect Lesley to jump. We all gasped as she got to the edge of the roof and jumped into the air, wings fully extended. With powerful down strokes, she rose up, flying due east towards the lake. Her form was perfect. She looked like she’d been flying for years. She headed for the CNA Insurance building, about seven blocks to the east of us, a tall, bright red, rectangular skyscraper of about 50-stories.

The thing about the CNA Insurance building – other than its color, it follows a minimalist design. A very typical no-frills, clean-line style skyscraper. Lesley tried to land on a window ledge at about floor 40 and found there really wasn’t one to speak of. She slid away down the building, scrabbling for purchase, and then went out of sight. We could see she was already righting herself to swoop north. The EPA folks were understandably distressed, but Mary assured them that Lesley had more than enough drop distance to easily right herself and was going to be fine. I thought that seemed very reasonable as she didn’t hit the building, but rather tried to land on a ledge that was way too small, in fact, almost non-existent.

We said our goodbyes to the EPA folks, thanked Dan and Preston again, promised we’d give updates on Beth’s condition after we had her checked out and headed to Mary’s car. Mary had other errands after the vet and I had a busy day ahead at the museum, so we parted company. I walked to work, veering off course to check around the CNA Insurance building area. I even went up into a parking garage near there to get a nice bird’s eye view. I guess I’ve developed a love of parking garages now. At any rate, after a very careful search, I didn’t find a thing. Lesley wasn’t down as far as I could determine

Bye, Lesley! (P. Kendall)Mary had to go up to the Lincoln Park Zoo anyway, so she took Beth there. The vet determined that Beth seemed a bit wobbly, so they put her in a hospital crate and kept her overnight. In the late afternoon, Mary called me. She said the vet had given Beth fluids and that indeed, she was a bit dehydrated. They had also put a perch in Beth’s cage and she’d gotten up on it after an hour or so. She seemed to be perching just fine. Good news! They would continue to monitor Beth and Mary would go over in the morning. If she got the all-clear from the vet, we’d release her. If not, Mary would transfer her to SOAR for a bit longer rehabilitation.

On other fronts, neither of us had gotten any calls regarding downed birds, so we felt sure Lesley was just fine.

After work, I took the long way home and walked the blocks and alleys around the CNA Insurance building. I went up into the garage and did a thorough search of the area from the “sky” but I didn’t see a thing. Good! Really, really good. Go Lesley!

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~ by Steph on June 19, 2006.