"You from WIRES?" he growled as he threw the butt to the ground and crushed it.
"Yes." Cold air spilled into the car. I shivered slightly. "Do you have -- the bird?"
As I stepped from the car he reached into the cabin of the truck and pulled out a large box. Something moved around inside. I took the box from him and looked inside. "Excellent," I said.
Staring up at me was a young falcon, his feathers the colour of dark malt. I could tell from the light brown fringes on each feather that the bird was still a juvenile. "Where did you find him?"
"Sittin' in the middle of the road at Googooga. I couldn't let him get run over." He looked into the box. "So what is it?"
"I think it's a gosshawk, or prbably a black kite. Or a whistling kite. I'll have to get the experts to check it out." I placed the box on the back seat of the car and headed home. I didn't like the way the bird huddled down in one corner.
Back home and in the warmth I opened the box. The raptor hadn't moved, and seemed more hunched up. H. said the bloke had got it to take food so I thought I'd give it a go. I didn't have the proper feed but I did have some lean steak. I chopped some into 4 x 1" squares and held a piece near the bird. He lept to his feet, made a "tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk!" noise and snatched the meat from my hand. It went down in a couple of gulps. The other three pieces followed suit.
Tomorrow I hand the bird over to H, who is a trained raptor rehabber. She thinks the bird is too old to become imprinted, but not so old that it'll be horribly wild and hard to care for.
Photos to come soon.
(the bit about the alley is true.)