Two female American Kestrels joined the ecosystem of the East Leverett Meadow last Sunday when they were released by raptor rehabilitator Julie Anne Collier.
Collier, who operates the Wingmasters rehabilitation center and educational programs with Jim Parks, is scheduled to release a third Kestrel on Aug. 26 at 1 p.m.
How the birds arrived in Collier’s care underscores one of the perils of the early stages of fledging: both were brought to the Tufts Wildlife Clinic in Grafton by people who believed they’d been “abandoned,” she said. The perfectly healthy birds were found seemingly stranded on the ground by well-meaning people who “rescued” them.
It’s fairly common for fledging birds to spend some amount of time on low fences or even on the ground, putting them at risk for discovery by people who believe they’ve fallen out of their nest.
With a few weeks of flight and hunting practice under their wings, though, the little Leverett falcons were ready to return to the wild.
One settled immediately in a nearby tree. The other took a wide sweep over the meadow, making a curious pass over a Kestrel box that stands high above the tall grass and wildflowers. Scores of wary swallows watched as the Kestrel explored its new surroundings.
Below, a few more photos from the afternoon. Watch the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust’s “events” page for other upcoming programs.