Merri’s new mate, Chris, with leg ID band 38/BD, suffered a debilitating injury over the weekend, resulting in the loss of his right leg.
“We don’t know exactly where, when and how it happened,” says Fox Hall falcon watcher Imelda Joson. “Most likely it was a result of an accident, not a fight with another falcon.”
Joson first noticed Chris was in trouble Monday afternoon, May 23, when he failed to deliver food to the nest at his usual time. Later that evening, she saw him on the webcam hop inside the nest box on one leg. “He was obviously limping — he had to use his wing to support himself,” says Joson, who immediately alerted officials at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW).
Joson and volunteers Sabrina Pedersen and Michael Nuzzo monitored Chris and the rest of the falcon family at Fox Hall the whole day on Tuesday. Joson confirmed that Chris’s right leg was indeed gone. “Through my spotting scope, I could see what looked like some traces of dried blood on his underside,” she notes.
Despite his injury, however, Chris still manages to catch small birds. He has some difficulty balancing himself, so he wedges the bird between his body and the wall of the building so he can tear off the flesh.
“It looks like he’s learning to cope with his disability. He looks perfectly normal otherwise, with no sign of distress. In fact, he’s getting better at landing on the roof and window ledges at Fox Hall, and he’s able to easily hop in and out of the nest box to check on the chicks. We hope his wound doesn’t get infected and that it would heal completely on its own,” says Joson.
According to the DFW, so long as Chris can fly, hunt and feed himself, he should do well and there is no need for human intervention.
“Chris is young, only two years old, so hopefully he’ll be able to continue to adapt and compensate for his missing limb,” says Joson. “On Thursday, he even took turns with Merri in feeding their babies. This year, we have only three chicks as the last egg failed to hatch.”
Stay tuned for more updates. Keep watching!