THE GREAT ESCAPE
The story of Qetesh's escape and recapture

QETESH PHOTO GALLERY

A collection of photographs taken documenting the successful recapture of Qetesh
CPF EDUCATION PROGRAM

Information on Project School Visit and Qetesh's other public appearances.


 

Melanie Moore reports:  On Saturday July 15 at 4:45pm, a young boy untied Qetesh's line while she was at the Canadian Peregrine Foundation's tent during the Fresh Festival at Lebreton Flats. Mark Nash had turned to answer a question for the child's mother. He had only looked away for an instant and in that split second Qetesh was untied, out, up and gone.

Qetesh surprised everyone by making her first flight look like she was a pro. Mark, Marcel and Robyn watched utterly stunned and in amazement and awe at Qetesh's escape and fantastic flight.

The instant she went up though, Connor and Horizon, Ottawa's resident pair, were after her like fighter pilots. All three went out of sight to the west just before Tunney's Pasture and so the search began there.

A group of searchers (Eve Ticknor, Phil Maillard, Roseanne Bishop, Rick Ticknor, Greg Kelly and Melanie Moore) was immediately rallied and began their searching high and low, in car and on foot around the city out from Tunney's. The entire city was alerted through the media, police, services etc. and the response from everyone was positive, immediate, supportive and very heartening. Many calls (approx. 100) came in with reports about sightings from as far away as Kingston, Manotick and Orleans and a few of these as near as Lemieux Island (in the Ottawa River just west of Lebreton Flats). Of these calls, the hopeful and even vaguely hopeful reports were all followed up. In each case, either no bird could be found once we arrived on the scene, or else it turned out to be a kestrel, merlin, red-tailed hawk, or harrier.

We found Horizon at Tunney's Pasture on the Coats building keeping an eye out to the north and west. Only once in a while would she fly around to look at her family and nest site, but then came right back around to protect her territory from Tunney's Pasture. This was encouraging because had the resident peregrines killed Qetesh, Horizon would not have had to keep an eye on that edge of her territory. So we hoped Horizon was telling us something and she must have been.

Finally a call came in at around 3:15pm on Monday from a worker at the Lemieux Island Purification Plant stating he had spotted what he thought might be Qetesh. The worker, Marc, had been going over to a small out-building to clean up some graffiti when he heard scratching noises from in the bushes. He went and looked and there was a big bird. He thought it might be an owl. He was unfamiliar with birds and on top of that he had not heard the news about Qetesh being missing. He decided to call a fellow worker who was a birder and this man, Brian, identified the bird as a falcon with bands and jesses so then they called Mark.

Mark Nash arrived first to the island and was incredulous and ecstatic to find Qetesh to be alive and well. She was completely quiet and hidden sitting on top of a flatbed trailer which had been parked mostly in the bushes. Even knowing she was there it was still hard to spot her. This proved how hard it is to find a bird in those situations especially when she doesn't vocalize. The "needle in a haystack" theory was obvious because all of the volunteers and the Falcon handlers had scoured that island several times and had found nothing.

She seemed fairly relaxed, as if she was thinking "It is about time you guys showed up! I'M HUNGRY!!!"  Mark Nash approached her and called to her but she was not going to come out. All it took was some fresh chicken breast in his hand and out she hopped right to the chicken, to Mark and up on his arm.

Once it was 100% confirmed it was Qetesh and that she was in back in her handlers' care, we all did an emotional release by crying and hugging and taking pictures.  Then calls went out to report that she had been found alive and well. Once again, the media flocked to the scene and the fabulous news of her discovery and rescue was broadcast to the area.

She devoured some more food and wanted to eat the rest but Mark thought it best to start her slow considering she had not been fed since Friday evening and because she gets car sick if she eats right before a drive. Her antics and expression was rather focused as she tried to look past Eve, who held her for a time and fed her, toward the remaining chicken. Qetesh's mouth was clacking and she kept shifting to look at the meat.

Her left wing was drooping slightly and we hoped it was nothing more than strain and exhaustion from such an extraordinary flight exertion and most likely a very abrupt landing. This was later checked by Dr. Roscoe at the Lynwood Animal Hospital by a physical exam and x-rays and no major bone breaks or damage was found.  After her checkup with the vet and one more interview with the CBC, Qetesh et al were ready to finally head home to Toronto.

THANK YOU!

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation would like to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone in Ottawa and beyond who put time and effort into helping us relocate Qetesh.  The response to our plight was truly incredible, and we could not have succeeded without the help of the community.

Thank you to everyone who spent even a little bit of time helping us with this important search!

Special thanks to the following:

Rescuers:

Marc Essiambre
Brian Tousignant

Volunteer searchers:

Roseanne Bishop
Robyn Carlson
Greg Kelly
Phil Maillard
Melanie Moore
Eve Ticknor
Rick Ticknor

Television:

The New RO
CJOH - TV
CHOT - TV
CBC - TV

Newspapers:

Le Droit
Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa Sun

Radio stations:

CBC Radio Ottawa
CFRA 580
CHEZ-FM
KOOL-FM
MAJIC-FM

Other supporters:

The Carlson Family

Police:

Ottawa-Carleton Police
Hull Police
Ontario Provincial Police
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Transit:

OC Transpo
Para Transpo

Taxi companies:

Blueline
Capital
DJ's
Westway

City of Ottawa:

Public Works
Waste Management
Parking Authority

Humane Society of Ottawa
Wild Bird Care Centre

Return to the Ottawa home page

Canadian Peregrine Foundation