Fallen falcon takes plane back to Winnipeg after months in U.S. waiting on passport

It took months to get the bird of prey a passport, but Beatrix the peregrine falcon made a safe landing in Winnipeg last week.

Injured in Texas storm in spring, months of rehab later, Beatrix returns to Canadian birthplace

Beatrix will spend the winter strengthening her wing muscles. If all goes well, she'll be released in the spring. (Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)

It took months to get the bird of prey a passport, but a peregrine falcon injured in a wicked southern U.S. storm in the spring was finally cleared for landing in Winnipeg last week.

"She's a tough little bird," said Tracy Maconachie, co-ordinator with the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project.

Born on the ledge of a downtown Winnipeg hotel in 2011, Beatrix made headlines south of the border in March when the falcon was rescued from a busy Texas highway. A storm pounded her down to the pavement of U.S. Highway 75 in Dallas and stopped her from migrating north for breeding season.

Sending the bird home wasn't a simple process. Maconachie spent months working with Kathy Rogers, founder of Texas-based Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, to get the proper permits to repatriate Beatrix.

It took 90 days of applications, four permits and nine months of rehabilitation, but Beatrix managed to board a plane to Winnipeg on Dec. 1 with Rogers by her side.

"She had an airline ticket and the whole bit," Maconachie said, adding Beatrix was transported in a carrier that blocked out her surroundings to keep her calm.

Beatrix took the window seat next to Rogers for part of the ride; American Airlines and WestJet took care of flight costs.

Beatrix had surgery on her feet recently. Rehab workers will be keeping an eye on them as they heal over the winter. (Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)

She'll spend the winter strengthening her wing muscles and rehabilitating her feet, which just underwent surgery.

The hope is she'll be in "top shape" and released next spring, Maconachie said.

If all goes well, it could mean life as usual for Beatrix, and the endangered bird could resume its migration cycle again. 

"We're optimistic. She's made it this far," Maconachie said.

"We just have to get her little feet all healed up and get her back on the path. We'll take it one step at a time.

"She'll decide whether she wants to nest or if she wants to go off and play in a wetland for a year or if she wants to go somewhere else entirely."