Rescue: Recover: Release!

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The Cape of Good Hope SPCA Wildlife Department has endured a bumper summer season and was able to celebrate the successes with a raft of raptor releases!
When it comes to wild bird species, Cape Town rules the roost with wonderful winged diversity; some 358 species of bird have been recorded across the city; a quarter of Southern Africa’s endemic species (birds that occur here and nowhere else).

When it comes to birds of prey, 32 species can be spotted soaring our skies at most times of the year. While telling them apart can be difficult (despite all the guidebooks available!), one raptor species that most Capetonians can identify due to their relative abundance on the urban edge is the charismatic, pint-sized rock kestrel a.k.a Rockies!

The SPCA Wildlife Department receives, rescues, and releases an average of 30 of these rust-coloured rock kestrels each month, and every time we send one home as a fully restored, healthy bird, it is a special joy for our wildlife inspectors.

So it was with Rocky #29215 (nicknamed “Small Sam”, for short). This young bird came to us in a sorry state after being trapped inside a factory warehouse in Philippi for almost a month before anyone alerted us to please help. With no windows to help him fly through, little Sam was too terrified by the factory bustle to venture close to the warehouse door through which he flew one hot summer’s day in February.

Underweight from not having eaten for so long (we don’t know what he survived on, even though the factory workers assured us as they were sharing their lunch with him every day!), our wildlife officers patiently waited for when the factory wound down for the day until the right moment when he could be coaxed down from a steel beam in the high ceiling and gently netted.

Back at the SPCA Wildlife Department, Small Sam was stabilised and rehydrated for 24 hours before making the emergency trip to our accredited raptor rehabilitation facility up the West Coast. There, master raptor specialist Jacques gently got to work nursing our bird back to full-flight fitness. 3 weeks later, with some meat on his bones and a whoosh in his wing, Sam was taken to a nature reserve area near his original site of rescue and set free. His transport box cage door open, he wasted no time on goodbyes and soared into the sky with a flap of his newly powerful wings. He hovered on the horizon for just a moment, probably re-calibrating his internal compass, before climbing away into the blue autumn sky.

So long Small Sam!

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA Wildlife Department is equipped to respond to all cases of sick, injured or compromised wildlife, including birds of prey, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Contact the Cape of Good Hope SPCA on 0217004158/9 or email  to report sick or injured birds.

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