The staff of the Center for Birds of Prey would like to extend our thanks to everyone who expressed concern for our trained falcon that flew away from the Marion Square demonstration arena during our Saturday morning program for the 2014 Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. While we tirelessly prepare for events like this one, it is always a challenge when things like this happen.
All of the birds utilized in our flight demonstrations are fitted with radio transmitters that allow us to track them and recover them as quickly and safely as possible. In this case, we were confronted with challenges that we do not typically face while tracking the occasional errant birds in our campus environs in Awendaw.
Narrow streets bounded by tall buildings, limited open spaces and radio interference from utility lines made it quite challenging to locate our bird, and the high winds made it easy for him to cover ground quickly as he ventured around the peninsula.
Special thanks to those who opened their homes and businesses to us during our search. The falcon found all of the highest spots in town, including the rooftops of the Charleston Place and Mills House hotels. The staffs of these facilities were quick to assist in our pursuit and granted us access to portions of their facilities that are typically inaccessible.
Unfortunately, in both cases when we appeared on the rooftops, the falcon was startled and took flight.
Thanks to the staff and residents of the People's Building who, in a testament to the hospitality of our fair city, allowed four weary and disheveled bird trainers into their home without hesitation. Unfortunately again, we were unable to retrieve the bird from this beautiful rooftop garden. Finally, after nearly five hours of pursuit, we located the falcon perched atop the Fort Sumter House on the west end of White Point Garden.
For the first time all day, after clearing the area of pedestrians, pets and picnickers, we created a small open space of grass where the bird could safely land.
Just as he has been trained to do, the falcon quickly left his high perch and descended to the duck wing lure presented by our trainer.
While it was far from the afternoon flight demonstration that we had planned, this short stoop to the lure was one that brought relief and joy to all of us.
I would like to thank the staff and visitors of the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition for their understanding, concern and assistance.
Stephen Schabel Jr.
Director of Education
The Center for Birds of Prey