An endangered falcon born on the ledge of a downtown Winnipeg building is recovering in Texas after getting caught in a hail storm last week.
Beatrix the peregrine falcon was found lying on the pavement at an intersection on U.S. Highway 75 in Dallas after a nasty storm blew through the city, killing a few birds at the local zoo. She was rescued and taken to the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where she is being cared for by wildlife officials.
Tracy Maconachie, co-ordinator of the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project (PFRP), heard the news of Beatrix's unexpected layover in Texas last Thursday.
'She's a great mom. You try to band her chicks and she tries to take your head off.' - Tracy Maconachie
"We have lots of falcon fans around the world … and somebody made mention of it on one of these [online] forums," Maconachie said. "I called down to Texas and introduced myself and said, 'You've got one of my birds down there.'"
Beatrix hatched atop the Radisson Hotel in the summer of 2011. CBC Manitoba viewers watched her grow from an awkward little puffball into a full-feathered avian predator that summer and voted in favour of naming her after Beatrix Potter, the famed naturalist and children's literature author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
It was at that time that she was fitted with an anklet containing a unique serial number wildlife rehabilitation folks in Dallas used to trace her back to Winnipeg.
Peregrines like Beatrix tend to rely on a healthy diet of pigeons and northern flickers (a woodpecker species) in Manitoba, among other birds, according to the PFRP.
Beatrix came in to the centre at a good weight and is eating well, from what Maconachie has heard. While she has no obvious signs of injury, officials in Dallas have noted Beatrix is having vision issues.
"It seems as though she's had some kind of bonk ... but she's been getting better," Maconachie said.
The bird has yet to see a veterinarian, but Maconachie hopes an appointment in the next few days should answer the question of whether Beatrix is fit to fly and can finish her 2,100-kilometre trip from Dallas to Winnipeg.
Kathy Rogers with the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre hopes to release Beatrix back into the wild if possible. If she fails her vision test, Rogers is considering flying with her home on a plane.
"She may still make it back. It's still early days," Maconachie said, adding peregrine falcons tend to show up in Manitoba near the end of March.
Beatrix nested west of the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport last year. Maconachie is still hoping to see the five-year-old bird of prey take up residence in the same place again this summer and start a family.
"She's a great mom. You try to band her chicks and she tries to take your head off — she's got all of the things you want in a peregrine falcon."
Follow @mbperegrines for regular updates about peregrine falcons nesting in Winnipeg this summer.