Rita Mae

Rita Mae

Rita Mae is a sweet peregrine falcon who became part of our Wings of Wonder ambassador family in 2011. She was one of 4 chicks hatched in Muskegon and, shortly after being banded by the state biologist, she was stolen illegally from her nest. About 3 1/2 months later, she was found dumped in Grand Rapids. The finders rescued her and delivered her to Wings of Wonder.

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More about Rita Mae

Rita Mae was in extremely poor health and condition. It was quite obvious that she had been raised in a small wire cage. The wire had completely shredded her long wing and tail feathers. She had horrible infections on her face and both feet. Her wrists were also scabbed over and she was severely emaciated. She was a mess. Over the next couple of months, she was successfully rehabilitated at WOW but her journey had only just begun.

Rita Mae did not know how to fly and live her life as a peregrine. Rebecca received permission to loan her out to a licensed falconer for further hunt training and conditioning. The falconer had Rita Mae for about 13 months. Unfortunately, she failed all of her tests and was returned to Wings of Wonder in December 2012. Rita Mae is so extremely handicapped…she just can not survive life out in the wild. She will live out her life being pampered at Wings of Wonder.

The scientific name comes from the Latin words falco, meaning hook-shaped, and may refer to the beak or talons, and peregrinus, meaning to wander as these birds are highly migrational. Peregrines have also been called Duck Hawk, Great-footed Hawk, and Wandering Falcon.

The Peregrine Falcon is the largest of the 3 falcons native to Michigan. With an adult body length of 15-20 inches and a 3 1/2 foot wingspan, this is the fastest animal in the world. Recently, a Peregrine was clocked at diving nearly 280 miles per hour out of the sky. This falcon is found on every continent except Antarctica, and lives in a wide variety of habitats from the tropics and deserts to the tundra. Their primary diet consists of birds such as starlings, pigeons, blackbirds, jays, and waterfowl, but they have also been known to hunt small mammals as well.