When you're the world's fastest bird, not being able to fly isn't ideal!
Found in the garden of one of our volunteers, an examination soon found that this poor peregrine falcon had sustained severe damage to several primary feathers on one wing. With these feathers being vital for flight, we were left with only two options:
1. Wait for the feathers to moult naturally. This is certainly the easier option, but a full moult of birds of prey can take up to a full year and, with peregrine falcons being incredibly stressy birds in captivity, this was not something we could consider.
2. Imp the feathers. Although a little trickier, an imped bird is able to fly almost immediately after the operation and is much better for a stressy species!
With the decision made, Meriem, one of our vets, set to work...
Normally seen in the falconry industry, imping is a process where damaged or missing feathers are replaced with 'donor' feathers from another bird (in this case, one that was sadly found deceased). These feathers are carefully selected to match the age, colouration, species and sex of the bird in question before being carefully measured to ensure the wing shape is maintained.
Once selected, both the donor feather and original feather shaft are cut to a 45 degree angle to prevent rotation before being connected using a strong wooden (and biodegradable) dowel and special adhesive. As these 'new' feathers are inserted directly into the existing feather shafts, they will moult naturally when the time comes, leaving no evidence that they were ever there!
Amazingly, once the glue has set (and assuming all measurements were correct), the bird is usually able to fly immediately and, luckily, this falcon is now doing perfectly!
Needing a little monitoring to ensure that everything is secure, this beautiful bird should be back in the wild very soon!
We are beyond delighted to say that our imped peregrine falcon is now back in the wild!After spending a little time in one of our aviaries to ensure everything was back to normal, she was given the final sign off before being returned to the wild!
With the new feathers inserted directly into the old feather shafts, they will moult naturally when the time comes, leaving no trace that they were ever there!