“Sunday morning, 13th December 2009, while asleep in my bed, I received an awakening call from a friend Rahul Kolekar, currently working on a research project in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, saying that he is forwarding my number to his friend Sameer Patel, who has a raptor with him, which he had rescued from his workplace Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Colaba, Mumbai.
“The raptor was attacked by crows some two days ago. I thought it must be just a Barn Owl, for which I had been receiving quite a number of rescue calls in the earlier two to three weeks, this being the prime time of the year when many juveniles are found attacked by crows…
“I soon received a call from Sameer. He said, it was a falcon and he thought it to be probably a juvenile Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug). …I rushed to his place to find that it was an Amur Falcon (F. amurensis) (above). On inspection it seemed to be in good condition, not injured; it flew well and was eating well too … and decided to release it as early as possible – as Sameer fed it meat (the only option) and it being not its natural diet, being largely insectivorous on migration, it could have affected it’s health…
“I decided to leave the bird with Sameer, asking him to give it water, to avoid any further discomfort to the bird as it had plenty of space to fly over there and a caring nature lover to look after, and returned home for the day as we had planned to release it on the next day.
“The very next day, I went to Sameer’s place. We provided water to the bird and then three of us, myself, Sameer and Sameer’s friend Yashoda Narvankar went to Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai, to release the bird in the wild at around 1030 hrs. As we released it, it flew well and perched on a nearby tree (left). It preened itself for almost 10-15 minutes while we monitored the bird from some distance. And finally it took off its perch flying away with agility and probably also tried to hawk dragonflies once. We watched it for a minute or two before it finally disappeared after letting us enjoy some spectacular flight display leaving us with some memories of this magnificent bird and some questions in my mind about bird behaviour, instincts and their migration patterns.
“Thanks to Sameer and Yashoda for all the help while taking identification photographs.”
Mumbai, Maharshtra, India
14th December 2008
The rescued Amur Falcon is female, possibly a sub-adult bird, showing adult-like underparts, underwings, tail pattern, buff thighs and orangish legs and beak along with other most adult-like characters but still showing buff edges to upperwing coverts like juveniles. The bird is an autumn passage migrant to the Indian subcontinent