Bird tale with a happy ending: Alki falcon hit, helped, released

Alki’s David Hutchinson sent three beautiful photos of that bird along with the story of how he and wife Eilene Hutchinson encountered and helped it:

A week ago on Thursday, my wife and I were driving home along Alki Avenue when something streaked in front of our car. It collided with a truck heading the opposite direction and tumbled to the street. Thankfully, there was not much traffic at that time and we were able to retrieve it, take it home, and place it in a pet carrier. It turned out to be a Merlin, a small falcon about 10 inches long.

David continues:

We called Woodland Park Zoo, and they referred us to the Sarvey Wildlife Center up in Arlington. Their purpose is to “help our wildlife population continue, and assure immediate medical attention, food, and shelter for injured and orphaned wildlife.” They operate with volunteers and are funded through donations.

We dropped the Merlin off and during the past week, they rehydrated it, started it on solid foods, and made sure it could fly and was in good health. This past Friday, we received a call that is was ready for release. We brought it back to Alki and released it at the playfield north of Alki Elementary which is only about 1 block from where we had rescued it. It immediately flew to one of the large trees that line 59th Avenue where it sat for a long time sunning itself and grooming before flying away.

Thanks to David for sharing the story and photos. You can find out more about Sarvey Wildlife Center, by the way, at or 360-435-4817.

35 Replies to "Bird tale with a happy ending: Alki falcon hit, helped, released"

  • funkietoo March 2, 2009 (12:24 pm)

    David & Eilene.

    Thank you for stopping and saving this beautiful, magnificant bird. Sarvey is a terrific organization and so pleased that the Woodland Park Zoo referred them to you (and not PAWS Wildlife).

  • Jiggers March 2, 2009 (12:27 pm)

    Pidgeons beware!!!

  • d March 2, 2009 (12:29 pm)

    Nicely done Hutchinsons!

    Sarvey’s is great. Also, Paws Wildlife Center in Lynnwood is available to folks who encounter injured wildlife.

    As we enter early spring mating and breeding season, there will be likely lots more sightings of injured or orphaned young wildlife, so to all the good stewards of the earth here in West Seattle, keep Sarvey and Paws Wildlife links or phone numbers handy. Just in case!

    Thanks again to the Hutchinsons for the intervention and the swell photographs and to WSB for posting all!

  • B-squared March 2, 2009 (12:32 pm)

    WOW, what an awesome story! Thanks David, Eilene and WSB! Beautiful bird. must be a very hardy fellow.

  • marianne March 2, 2009 (12:35 pm)

    Kudos to the Alki couple who took the time to pickup the falcon, deliver it to the wildlife center and release it back into familiar surroundings! An of course, to Sarvey Wildlife for nursing the bird back to health.

  • kathy March 2, 2009 (12:40 pm)

    I love this story. Really lights up my day!

  • Roger March 2, 2009 (12:50 pm)

    David & Eilene,

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! (3 cheers)

    What a wonderful story and just what I needed to break a little funk I was in. It’s nice to see some good news in these times.

  • J March 2, 2009 (12:54 pm)

    I just sent Sarvey Wildlife a donation as a thank you for saving “our” merlin. It’s easy to do; there’s a big paypal donate button on their front page.

  • What The March 2, 2009 (12:54 pm)

    David & Eilene,

    Major KUDOS to you both!!! People like you are the reason why I love WS!!!

  • Jenny DB March 2, 2009 (1:05 pm)

    This is a great story. I used to work up at Sarvey Wildlife ( It is an amazing place run almost exclusively by volunteers so they are always looking for new ones. I will say it is the most incredible hands on place to work. Birds like this alki falcon come in all the time – bald eagles, golden eagles, etc. – along with the occassional fox, bear, etc. It is SO AWESOME to work up there… so if you don’t mind the drive to Arlington I would seriously recommend calling them and checking it out… they are always looking for new volunteers!!!

  • flourescent carl March 2, 2009 (1:22 pm)

    cool story!

  • Melanie March 2, 2009 (1:44 pm)

    Is this the same type of bird that was pictured on the WSB a few days ago?

  • carrieann March 2, 2009 (2:02 pm)

    This made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks to David and Eilene (and the people at WPZ and SWC) for taking the time to stop and see that this beautiful bird was able to return to his home!

  • lina March 2, 2009 (2:07 pm)

    that is really cool, the merlin is beautiful! i look forward to seeing him healthy flying around alki. thanks!!

  • WesCAddle March 2, 2009 (2:28 pm)

    What’s a Pidgeon?

  • Nancy March 2, 2009 (2:44 pm)

    What a remarkable story. Thank you David and Eilene.

  • rlv March 2, 2009 (3:52 pm)


  • d March 2, 2009 (4:06 pm)

    Melanie –

    Different species – this is a Merlin (a type of falcon) and the other one (on the fence) was a Cooper’s (a hawk).

    To see a side-by-side comparison of how much difference there is in just their appearance (which is subtle, but definite in the front plumage pattern especially), click on the “Wildlife” tab at the header of the post. You will be able to scroll and see both pictures on your screen.

    Cool stuff on WSB!

  • Misty March 2, 2009 (4:23 pm)

    I’m such a softie. This story brought tears to my eyes!

  • Jiggers March 2, 2009 (4:24 pm)

    My typing is horrible.

  • JumboJim March 2, 2009 (5:40 pm)

    Very cool! Maybe the Merlins will start to nest here. Last year they nested in North Seattle which is the first time they have nested in Seattle (that we know of).
    Merlins are like a mini Peregrine and they are about the funnest (word?) bird there is to watch. They’re breathtakingly quick.

  • Alcina March 2, 2009 (7:10 pm)

    The 2008 Christmas Bird Count done by Seattle Audubon found 13 Merlins
    This count is done in one day and covers a 7.5 mile radius with the center of the circle being Pioneer Square.

  • morcaffeineplease March 2, 2009 (8:05 pm)

    Thanks for helping a bird in need…and good karma to ya!

  • SWC Volunteer March 2, 2009 (9:43 pm)

    I’m a volunteer at Sarvey, and have been for about a year. It is always the highlight of my weekend to go up. As it is donation-run, they always need more volunteers, especially during the week (mon.-fri.), or donations, no matter how small. If you ever have extra time, or are in the area, at least go check it out. There’s a great education building just out front, occupied by various different birds. If you become a volunteer, you might be allowed to see our new bobcat resident, Baxter (named after the late founder of Sarvey).

  • kris March 2, 2009 (11:56 pm)

    Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou! What wonderful people you are.

  • Martyn Stewart March 3, 2009 (9:17 am)

    >>Thank you for stopping and saving this beautiful, magnificant bird. Sarvey is a terrific organization and so pleased that the Woodland Park Zoo referred them to you (and not PAWS Wildlife).
    Comment by funkietoo <<<<

    Paws is also a creditable organization that do tremendous stuff with little resources, why discredit them? Thank you Sarvey

  • funkietoo March 3, 2009 (9:26 am)

    I would encourage folks to contact Sarvey and not PAWS Wildlife Center. A few years back, a friend and I took an injured bird to PWC (couldn’t fly, but was eating, alert, etc.) AFTER we handed over the bird AND donated $100 towards the bird’s care, the PWC Officer/Expert informed us that if the bird could not be rehab/had lost certain feathers so it would never be able to fly, they would kill it.

    We looked at her with shock. She quickly jumped in and told us that PWC does not believe in making wild animals pets so killing the bird, animal, etc. is the right thing and humane thing to do.

    We agreed that wild animals should not be pets, however, stated that if the bird was healthy and just couldn’t fly, that it could still have a good life at a sanctuary/in a large aviary that was designed specifically for this bird’s needs—and that we would finance it.. We asked for the bird back so we could drive to Sarvey and/or find a sanctuary for the bird. She refused.

    Two days later they called my friend saying the bird was killed (euthanized). PAWS has never received another donation from me.

  • Kim McCormick March 3, 2009 (10:18 am)

    The PAWS mission statement clearly states that they rehabilitate animals to be released back into the wild.

    I have nothing but tremendous praise for the PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. They were amazing last summer in how they treated and coordinated the rehabilitation and release of the Merlin nestling that fell from the North Seattle nest. It was rescued by a very alert neighbor, and I rushed it to PAWS, where it spent two weeks in their excellent care before being released back at the nest site with its parents siblings during flegling time.

  • Kim McCormick March 3, 2009 (11:19 am)

    I should have added to my post above…what a great story, and I’m so glad everything turned out so well!

    Thank you, David, Eilene, and all at Sarvey.

  • Angela March 3, 2009 (12:26 pm)

    well, let me add my voice to all the others saying that this is really an amazing story with a beautiful outcome. And in return for the rescue, you must have some wonderful memories of seeing that little merlin up close and personal. I have heard wonderful things about Sarvey, and appreciate the mission and work of PAWS as well.

  • JH March 3, 2009 (3:37 pm)

    I agree-this was a great and inspiring story!

    I volunteer occasionally at PAWS. They do great work!

  • deihlia March 3, 2009 (4:49 pm)

    My applause goes deafeningly to David, Eileen, and the folks at Sarvey. And an extra round to the folks at PAWS, who also do a fantastic job with wildlife – I was lucky to be witness to that last summer, when they successfully cared for and released back to its family, a young Merlin that was one of the N. Seattle Five. They couldn’t have done a better job.
    It is my understanding that both wildlife centers have, if not the same, then a very similar policy about euthanizing if an animal cannot be released due to severe injury or if it cannot be used for educational purposes. Let’s honor both centers and not sully the name or mission of either one. They both deserve our respect and our donations of time and energy or dollars. Thanks again to the Hutchinsons for caring and carrying the Merlin to a safe haven and back.

  • Steff Z March 3, 2009 (6:38 pm)

    About euthanizing injured birds – there are actually fairly strict federal rules for raptors about what kinds of injuries can be rehabbed at all, with more rules for what can be re-released or not. For some severe injuries, euthanasia is required. The criteria are things like what’s broken and where.

    That bird may have had that sort of injury.

    (I volunteered at a raptor center in Vermont for a while. We did usually have a place for non-releasable raptors, and if not, tried to find places at another raptor center or zoo.)

    But it does look like PAWS will not rehab animals that are too injured to eventually be re-released.

  • Steff Z March 3, 2009 (6:41 pm)

    I <3 the North Seattle Five.
    Their parents are still (or again) around, courting loudly. Wahoo!

  • Doug Loucks March 20, 2009 (9:41 am)

    Great Job!! You put out a lot of time and effort and the Merlin and I thank you. DL

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