Dubai: A German expat rescued a rare migratory raptor that accidentally flew into his home balcony window.
The bird, an Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus), was immediately brought to Dubai Falcon Hospital and is now in stable condition and will be released soon.
Michael Schaefer, 54, German national and Dubai resident, who rescued the bird, handed it for immediate care to Dr. Panos Azmanis, specialist in Avian Medicine at Dubai Falcon Hospital that was founded by the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, former Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance.
Michael told Gulf News how he saved the bird and also shared a video of the raptor spending some time in his bathroom before being brought to the avian hospital.
‘I jumped off my chair’
“It was 4pm and I was doing work from home in Damac Hills. I was busy on my computer when I suddenly heard a loud thud; I literally jumped off my chair and I was shocked. Something has flown against my balcony window,” Michael said.
“I stepped outside and saw this beautiful raptor, injured and crawling on the tiles. It was slightly shrieking and desperately trying to move its wings but couldn’t fly again. It was very hot outside and the bird looked totally exhausted, breathing very heavy and fast. I was scared that it’s gonna die if I didn’t do something or anything fast,” he added.
Michael called his friend, Hendry, who is an experienced falconer in Dubai. “I sent Hendry pictures to identify the crashed bird,” noted Michael, adding: “Hendry told me to immediately get the bird out of the sun and into a shaded area. Holy smoke! I was even scared to grab a live rooster or hen!”
Catching an injured raptor
Michale continued: “Hendry said don’t worry about the beak but be aware of the claws. If it gets you with them, you will be probably be singing in high pitch. So, I grabbed my motorcycle jacket and gloves — good protection, I thought — but catching the predator bird wasn’t that easy at all. Hendry told me to take a light towel and I carefully threw it over the bird.”
“Done gently and I grabbed the wings one at a time and slowly I moved the bird to my guest bathroom. The bird was comforted and suddenly it became very calm. I left the light on and closed the door. From time to time, I took a peek to see how it was doing,” he added.
Raptor in the mirror
“Has anyone had a raptor in their bathroom? Probably not. But for me, I saw the bird magnificently sitting on my hand washing basin, and it seemed like it was admiring itself in the mirror,” Michael quipped, adding: “And the bird had another ‘trick’ — somehow it managed to ‘accidentally’ open the water tap.”
After rescuing the bird, Michael and Hendry immediately called the authorities and they got in touch with Dr. Panos, who also explained to Gulf News more details about the bird.
Bird of prey
Dr Panos said the rescued raptor was a juvenile Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus). It is also called Crested Honey Buzzard, a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as hawks, eagles, kites and harriers
“Oriental Honey Buzzard is a migratory bird that breeds from South Siberia to South Japan and Southeast Asia. It migrates to the UAE during mid-May, August and October. It feeds on larvae of bees and wasps, but can also take small prey,” Dr. Panos noted.
He added: “The bird was fully examined by us with the latest technology (blood, parasitology, radiography, endoscopy, ophthalmology). It is now in good condition but a little bit overweight. It will be ringed and GPS (global positioning system)-tagged by the Dubai Municipality — our hospital cooperates with DM in the rescue of raptors — to follow its migration.”
Michael added: “My visiting raptor was a survivor. Authorities got it tagged and they are getting to know more about the species — how they survive, migratory routes, etc. The bird is now OK and will probably be released on Thursday.”
What to do when you see an injured bird
Dr Panos Azmanis, specialist in Avian Medicine at Dubai Falcon Hospital, gave the following tips:
First do nothing and call an expert or the Dubai Municipality. For raptors, call Dubai Falcon Hospital
If a small bird, keep it in a cartoon box with holes or in a dark place away from people, children and pets. Do not give food or water and call authorities.