The female peregrine was banded as a nestling in 1994 and had been found at Lake Santa Margarita with a wing injury. The break was pinned and after the surgery healed, she was placed in a breeding facility for two years. She showed no inclination to breed with any males that were introduced, so she was made available for acquisition and Liberty seemed a good match.
I remember flying to San Jose and picking her up on one of my regular flights. She seemed at home in the air but had not been manned, and when I delivered her to Jan at Liberty, we all had high hopes for this pretty, large female whom we named Amelia (after another famous female aviatrix!)
She was subsequently manned and soon was introducing school kids all over the area to the wonders of peregrine falcons. Amelia was a joy to hold and became a favorite of a lot of the education volunteers in short order. This went on for several years.
Then one spring, we got in several orphan peregrines and the decision was made to change Amy’s job description to that of “Temporary foster mom” for a few months. And so it happened that this big female who had no interest in breeding at once became a caring, protective foster mother in the blink of an eye! For the next two seasons, she performed both tasks (educating until orphans showed up, then foster until they fledged) without complaint or problems. After that, we got in a full-time foster so Amelia didn’t have to change hats in the middle of the education season any more. She was content to be an education bird, doing show after show as the years passed, recently getting some relief from first Maverick, then Jester, and now Ace as the new non-releasable peregrines trained for doing educational presentations.
Earlier this week, on July 5, at the age of 17, she quietly got off of her perch onto the shelf, laid herself down, and peacefully crossed the rainbow bridge… Here’s to Amelia, though her earthly wings are forever folded, and with apologies to Rene Descartes, “I fly, therefore I am!”
(But then again, I bet Rene never knew a peregrine…)