Earlier in the month I got a call from my partner Ian that there was a Nankeen Kestrel in the Mechanics shop next door to where he worked. It had flown into the shop & perch up on a shelf. The guy who owns the shop went next door & got Ian as he knew I was a carer.
Upon arrival Ian had already caught the little Kestrel & showed me something that shocked me. Tied around both of its legs were strips of leather which hung about 14cm long – these are called jesses & are placed on birds used for falconry. For those of you who don’t know, falconry is illegal in NSW.
This poor Kestrel had obviously been caught by someone – possibly stolen from a nest – & was clearly being used for falconry. This is probably why it flew into the shop & wasn’t worried about being near humans – it may have been looking for food.
Once at home I place it in the aviary where it was quite happy for me to be close to it, it even flew & sat on my head happily at one time. After getting some photos of it & notifying NPWS I soon took the jesses off its legs. No doubt it was glad to have them off as I noticed they would fling around & get caught under its feet sometimes when it landed on the perches.
Thanks to Julia an amazing Bird of Prey lady – Peggy McDonald – who cares for raptors down south was happy to take it & teach it how to be a wild bird again so that it doesn’t have to go into permanent care somewhere. I must also thank Richelle Roberts who help get the Kestrel from Glen Innes to Armidale & Steve Debus who took it from Armidale all the way down to Peggy at the south coast.
In order to transport the Kestrel, I had to make a special box just for it so that it would travel safely – you can’t put raptors in just any old cage. After receiving some advice I made up a box which turned out to be just right – Peggy was happy with what I had done & the Kestrel arrived safe & well.
Unfortunately though we’ll probably never find out who had it & was keeping it in such a way, it was just lucky it flew into where it did & ended up with me.
Kelly Stumbles – Glen Innes Area Co-ordinator
Raptor Transport Box
I was asked to include some photos of the box I sent the Kestrel down in as a guide for what to do. So here are some photos of a transport box I made up from the information I was given on how to get the Kestrel there safely & how to do it.
You need to make sure the box is tall enough for the bird to perch in without it’s head touching the top. A towel needs to be placed on the bottom of the box with another towel rolled up on top of it in the centre of the box – this is what the bird will perch on. The rolled up towel needs to be thick enough so that when the bird is perched on it, it’s tail feathers sit up off the floor of the box & aren’t damaged.
Any inside flaps of the box need to be taped securely to the inside of the box, also to prevent feather damage (this isn’t shown in the photo as I hadn’t done it yet). A lid needs to be made in the top of the box along with small air holes – air holes are best in the top of the box above eye level so the bird doesn’t try to escape.
Finally the entire box needs to be securely taped up so that the bird can’t escape & labelled – Kelly
Birds of prey will travel distances extremely well if housed correctly, and Kelly created the gold star of transport containers as you can see here. The little kestrel is doing extremely well and no longer feels the need to go to a human for his food, which is a brilliant start on his road to release. Special thanks to Julia and Kelly, and to Steve Debus for providing his transport. It is great to all work in together to see him return to the life he was born to lead – Peggy
(article and photos kindly provided by Kelly Stumbles)