Chicken, a Lanner Falcon somewhat of a legend as a high flying ambassador bird at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, dies.
He soared high and flew with ease, or so it seemed, on that last flight with Shannon.
It was way back in December when during the morning flight show that Chicken didn’t come back, most unusual for this ambassador bird of 14 years. After an hours plus search they finally found him still seemingly exhausted in a scrub bush below the flight arena.
Cancer! This word strikes fear in he heart of humans. Chicken was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth. What a blow! For almost a month the vet and Shannon did everything they could to no avail.
He seemed comfortable enough until last Thursday and Shannon knew it was time as there was now pain in his eyes. As is with close relationships it was as if Shannon knew… starting Monday she’d spent extra time with Chicken, feeding him his special treats, taking him out for a flight just because, checking in on him at night for a quiet ‘conversation’ and then that last flight when time seemed suspended. Shannon and Chicken were in a world of their own as he dashed like a youngster and she watched as if for the first time, only this time it was a farewell salute.
Chicken was Shannon’s partner in education for over a decade. He only flew for her. He only ‘talked’ to her.
How Chicken ended up with Shannon
It was back in 2000 when two rafters found a sickly young Lanner Falcon on the river bank. They brought him to Raptor Rescue, located on the same property as the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary. Tests indicated organo-phosphate poisoning, sadly an all too common occurrence in South Africa for birds of prey.
After eight long months of recuperation the young Lanner Falcon was deemed cured. However, the after effect of the poison left some question as to his ability to effectively hunt, so in his best interest he joined the education flying team of the Sanctuary as an ambassador bird.
Where did Chicken get his name?
While still in recovery at the hospital he would make these… well, barnyard animal sounds. The name stuck and fortunately with Shannon’s tutelage his flying improved to outstrip his grounded name sakes.
We had the privilege of watching Chicken fly on a number of occasions. It was actually Shannon’s educational flight show back in early 2009 that inspired me to do something to help Africa’s wild birds and animals.
This wonderful ambassador bird will be sorely missed, by Shannon, Ben, the Sanctuary staff and the many visitors who came, watched and fell in love with this delightful creature.
More about Chicken and Lanner Falcons
Free eBook: Chicken: Not Your Ordinary Ambassador
Information and Facts about Lanner Falcons
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