ELYRIA — Joanne Gross stood in her backyard Friday night with a flashlight in hand, keeping an eye on her new feathered friend — a young falcon.
Gross, who lives on the 500 block of Willow Park Road, heard commotion around 10:30 a.m. Friday in her fenced-in backyard that abuts the Westfield Garden apartment complex on Bell Avenue.
When she walked outside, she saw a bird unlike any she has seen before.
A self-proclaimed animal advocate, Gross stood in her back yard nearly all day until help arrived at 7 p.m., making sure the bird was unharmed.
Gross said when she wasn’t outside keeping an eye on the falcon, she was inside trying to determine the type of bird that had taken residence on her property.
“It doesn’t fly, but it hops away,” Gross said. “I love animals.”
Throughout the day, Gross called local police departments and wildlife officers, but was unable to relay her message — a falcon was in her back yard and it could not fly away because its wings were clipped.
After calling The Chronicle-Telegram and telling her story, contact was made with Columbia Station resident and animal rescuer Kelly Smick.
Smick’s extensive background in animal rescue has saved hundreds of animals, including alligators and pit bulls, in Ohio and California.
Carrying a large fishing net, Smick walked toward the young bird, captured it and then cradled it in her hands with a bath towel.
“Poor baby,” Smick said. “Oh, it’s just skin and bone.”
As Smick held the falcon, Gross walked over to her and was brought to tears.
“Oh, I wish I could keep you,” Gross whispered to the bird.
Smick estimated the bird to weigh less than 2 pounds. A typical full-grown falcon can weigh anywhere between 4 and 5 pounds, she said.
“I know it’s not a peregrine, but I am not sure what type of falcon it is,” Smick said.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, the peregrine falcon is considered a “threatened” species.
Smick said it is illegal to keep a falcon as a pet, unless the person has a special raptor license.
After Smick captured the falcon, she notified the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center in Bay Village and was advised to bring the bird to the center today.
For the remainder of Friday night, the falcon adapted to its temporary home.
“It’s so stressed, but it’s savable,” Smick said Friday from her home, after she fed the falcon a raw chicken wing. “It would not have lasted another 24 hours on its own.”