One of Red Deer’s juvenile peregrine falcons found himself in a tight situation Wednesday night.
Nadira, the youngest of the three raptors that hatched in the Telus tower nest, was rescued from the chimney of a Highland Green home in the late evening after spending an estimated three days in the smoke stack.
“He’s a little dehydrated, a little thin and a little bit darker than before because of the soot, but generally he’ll be OK,” said Carol Kelly, executive director of the Medicine River Wildlife Centre.
Centre staff will spend a few days getting Nadira’s weight back up and provide him with a bathing area so he can remove the excess soot himself, she said.
Judy Boyd, wildlife community liaison with the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, responded to the incident Wednesday and cared for the young falcon at her Red Deer home, which is a designated first aid station for the wildlife centre. Nadira was taken to the centre Thursday for a thorough examination.
“He seems OK,” she said.
“He’s feisty, he’s grabbing at us, he’s screaming at us.”
Boyd was not sure how Nadira ended up in the chimney of Lori and Kevin Stelmaschuk’s house, but noted the residence is very close to the tower where the birds hatched.
The Stelmaschuks first heard what Lori described as a scratching noise coming from the chimney on Monday.
After hearing the sound briefly on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, the couple decided to call for help to free what they assumed was a bat or squirrel.
Lori said they originally called Alberta Fish and Wildlife in Red Deer and were disappointed after they felt it was implied that they should leave the animal to die inside the stack.
“We just wanted it to get about and be able to live,” Lori said.
Chris Kelly, district officer of Fish and Wildlife in Red Deer, confirmed the couple called but said they were given options on how to get the animal out, such as to contact someone more familiar with chimneys or the wildlife centre.
The Stelmaschuks did contact Medicine River Wildlife Centre, a call which Boyd and a volunteer responded to around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night.
Boyd said they also assumed the stuck animal was a bat but visuals from a camera positioned to look up the chimney showed it was a bird, which was believed to be a sparrow at first glance.
Once Nadira spread his wings, however, Boyd knew they weren’t dealing with a sparrow.
The young falcon was eventually freed around midnight, but Kevin and his neighbours Jeff Suitor and Johnny Willis had to remove the lining of the wood-burning fireplace and feed a hose down the chimney from the roof to help free Nadira in order for the rescue to happen.
“They’re kind of heros in my eyes,” Boyd said.
“Those guys were up on the roof dropping a hose down into their chimney when they thought it was a sparrow. Kudos to them. They really care. They weren’t just going to let this thing die.”
It’s not the first time Nadira has caused concern since hatching on June 13.
The runt caught the attention of worried individuals shortly after fledging from the nest as he decided to a break from flying and instead spent three days walking around under the Telus tower.
Kelly from the wildlife centre said she needs to connect with the Fish and Wildlife biologist in charge of threatened species to determine when Nadira will be released.
Boyd said anyone who sees a bird in distress should call the Medicine River Wildlife Centre at 403-728-3467.