Two young neighbor boys appeared at my front door one recent Friday night, one with a blue T-shirt in his arms. At closer inspection, I noticed a bird, an American kestrel, this country's smallest falcon, nestled in the T-shirt. The bird was injured and they thought I could help.
Nevada and Dakota Bencomo had rescued this bird from the jaws of a dog. They were playing in the Big Ditch far south of the Broken Arrow bridge, when they noticed a dog cuffing something around. When they arrived on the scene they realized the dog was "playing" with a bird. One boy grabbed the dog, who had the bird in its mouth. The dog released the bird and it flew to a nearby bush. The other boy broke a branch off the bush so the bird could fly away. When the kestrel tried to fly, it fell to the ground. So one of the Bencomo boys took off his shirt to wrap it around the bird. They then walked a long distance back to their bikes.
In the meantime, their mom, Dee Richardson, was out looking for Nevada and Dakota, for they were late getting home. Dee put the bikes and boys and bird in the car and headed to my house. I took the kestrel and placed him in a cardboard box, knowing I could find someone to care for it. I was not qualified to do so myself although I had grown up seeing my dad, Walter R. Spofford, a renowned authority on golden eagles, do just that. He had a license to take care of injured birds from eagles down to the smallest of birds. You need a license to take care of a bird of prey.
On Saturday morning I located Dennis and Denise Miller, who founded the Gila Wildlife Rescue in Silver City ("Call of the Wild," August 2005). They determined that the broken wing was repairable but the bird had a broken leg that was at least a month old and the leg was dead. It would never be able to survive. The kestrel had to be put down.
Nonetheless, I commend Nevada and Dakota Bencomo for their caring concern and initiative to find help for one of our most beautiful and smallest of falcons.
One may contact the Gila Wildlife Rescue at 590-0118 (cell),
534-8742 or 538-6640 / 6227 (WNMU Biology Dept.).
Editor's note: What a nice way to remind folks that the contents of each new issue are always available online from our website at www.desertexposure.com, along with back-issue contents for all of 2005. Everything's searchable, too, so if you can't remember which issue a story you read appeared in, it's no problem. Our Web site also contains our "Red or Green?" dining guide, the most complete listing of local restaurants in Southwest New Mexico. Plus if you've ever longed to see some of the art that accompanies our articles in full color, the main image from each feature is online in glorious color.