SLC • Solo slammed into building while learning to fly July 3.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Observers of the peregrine falcons of downtown Salt Lake City would just as well write 2013 off.
Only one of the four eggs laid by the peregrine falcons this spring hatched and fans of the raptors were saddened to hear that the one that did hatch died over the weekend after crashing while learning to fly on July 3.
"He was doing well and just seeming to get the hang of flying. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he slammed into a wall of glass on the Zions Bank Tower," said Bob Walters, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources watchable wildlife coordinator. "There were no noticeable external injuries and no breaks or fractures."
Solo, as he was named, "suffered soft tissue, nerve and spinal cord injuries," according to a post on the popular Salt Lake City Peregrine Falcons page on Facebook. Many people follow the falcons via webcams positioned in their nest box on the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
"The injuries were a result of a high-speed impact into the north face of the Zions Bank Tower located due south of the JSMB," according to the post.
Following Solo's rescue, the falcon was transported to a Salt Lake City rehabilitation facility where therapy began under the care of Jo Stoddard. "These injuries resulted in flaccid paralysis of both legs, incontinence and head trauma," the post said. "While some slight improvement in the paralysis was detected over the 10-day holding period, other systems began to shut down. He was found dead midday on Saturday."
Tributes to Solo and the people who watch and rescue the birds when required were posted on the Facebook page.
"Such very, very sad news. Its amazing how attached we become to these beautiful creatures and so tragic to lose even one of them. The urban jungle is so tough on these new fledglings," Mary Anne Reid wrote.
The news regarding Solo's father is better. That falcon was found on the ground June 28, just one day before Solo attempted his first flight.
Walters said the father has a dislocated shoulder and cannot be released back into the wild. No one witnessed how that raptor was injured, but some speculated a new male peregrine that started hanging around with Solo's mom may have caused the injury. The new male was seen encouraging Solo to fly.
While "slamming" into things while learning to fly is a common occurrence with wild peregrines, Walters said glass in buildings causes real issues with birds in city environments.
"There are losses from crashing in the wild, but glass presents them with a unique challenge," he said. "Maybe they can't see the glass and are looking through it. Or maybe they see reflections and think they are safe."
Solo was rescued seven times by Walters and volunteers who watch the fledgling falcons each year during what they call "Hell Week."
Primo, a young male from last year's peregrine nest, was rescued 10 times before Walters decided to have him put in a rehabilitation center over the winter. Primo was released on Antelope Island this past spring and has not been spotted again. He is not, Walters said, the new male hanging out with the female raptor downtown.
Boxer, one of Primo's sisters from 2012, successfully fledged. Another sister died after a high-speed impact with the Key Bank Tower.