Little Yurruga

As many of you are aware, Yurruga has not been seen since last Thursday. Cilla Kinross saw him on the top of a building in the pitching down rain and later, university workers also saw Yurruga on the same building. Cilla sent me a short note this morning because I had written to her earlier about Yurruga’s 2nd right tail feather still being contained by the quill. The local vet did not think this was a problem but, like Cilla Kinross, was concerned about a lack of feather development on the little falcon. What impact this might have had will never be known. Cilla has looked and looked in all the places Yurruga might be and others but she is concerned and has posted a note that has been placed on the FB Page for the Orange Peregrine Falcons. I was very touched because she referred to Yurruga as a ‘poor little lamb.’ Every day is a test for our birds. Even the strongest have challenges. It is difficult enough for fledglings but compounded with unkind weather for numerous days, well. Yurruga should be flying around screaming at his parents for food and the conclusion is that he is no longer with us.

The parents, Xavier and Diamond, had an extremely long – fifteen minute or more – bonding session in the scrape yesterday morning at 05:15. This is simply not something that would normally happen with a fledgling needing prey and training. Considering the work of Marc Bekoff (Emotional Lives of Animals), Jane Goodall, the observations of Hob Osterlund with the Laysan Albatross, the bonding behaviour of Xavier and Diamond should be considered alongside grief. While we have only a limited view of the falcon’s behaviour, it might be assumed that the couple have now grieved for their wee one and are, with the weight of that loss, reconfirming their love and commitment to one another. We cannot do a brain scan on Diamond’s hippocampus (area of brain in human animals for emotion) to see if it lights up, Barbara J King in her book, How Animals Grieve, would tell you that the investment in the mating, the making of the egg, the care and incubation, the care and feeding after and training, she says that ‘grief comes from love loss.’ There have been roadside funerals of Crows, Ospreys who have mourned the loss of their chicks by predators. Other bird species and drowned themselves after the death of their mate. And, of course, all of you reading my blog, will know about Arnold and Amelia, the two Canada geese. Arnold and Amelia lived at the pond on the grounds of the clinic (fortunate for them!).* Arnold had one of its digits severed by a snapping turtle and required surgery. Amelia went to look for Arnold and watched through the glass, finally sharing a meal and a pen til Arnold was released.

So, today, we grieve with Xavier and Diamond over the loss of little Yurruga.

It was a beautiful morning when little Yurruga flew for the first time.
Diamond and Yurruga bathed in the golden glow of the sun the morning Yurruga flew.
Xavier feeding his baby.
Xavier brings prey for Yurruga.
Diamond and her baby.
Xavier feeding Yurruga. Xavier loved getting a chance early on to feed his little one.

What an adorable little eyas. Fly high little one. Fly high.

I am so sorry to bring this terrible news to you. We join Xavier and Diamond, Cilla Kinross and the team at Orange in their mourning.

Thank you to Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross for the streaming cam where we get to share the joys and the sorrows – and where I took my screen shots of this lovely Peregrine Falcon family.

  • I say this because many do not consider the mate when one is taken into care. Arnold and Amelia were extremely lucky.


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you for the update Mary Ann. It is indeed really a sad day to learn this about Yurruga. I hope he is seen soon or found soon. I still have hope Mary Ann ❤️🙏
    Are the geese the pair that the male came to the vet clinic and visited his mate ? That was really a great story !
    Thanks again and prayers for everyone.

    1. Yes, it is a sad day, indeed. I wondered about that bonding yesterday. I always hope for a miracle. Yes, you remember. Arnold and Amelia. That is right. Can you imagine if someone had whisked Arnold off to some unknown clinic far away from Amelia? I am trying to educate the locals that if a goose is injured find its mate and take it with the other one to the clinic. Continue to send warm wishes, Linda. I felt very empty when Cilla wrote to me – she does not give up easy! Remember she climbed those 170 stairs many times with Izzi. But I couldn’t say a word til she posted her letter. It would have been so disrespectful of all she does. I think she will continue to look because she wants to know what happened and if Yurruga is still alive somewhere we will be the first to know.

  2. So sad to hear the latest about Yurruga, Mary Ann. I’ve had a gut feeling about him the last 3 days. It’s so heartbreaking, and I too hope for a miracle. Not giving up…. but I think those “bonding” sessions might have also been grief-processing sessions for Diamond and Xavier.

    1. Yes, I think you are absolutely right. Grief-processing. It is so very sad. I even thought there was a miracle early when there was Xavier flying to the tower and another bird flying over the trees a minute later but it turns out to be Xavier. Yes, when we don’t see them or hear them screaming for food or the parents busy delivering, then you know something is simply not the way it should be. Thank you.

      1. Yes, you’re so right. Thanks again, Mary Ann, for your reporting. I’ve tears in my eyes today and no doubt we’re all processing grief for dear Yurruga.
        As I started typing this just now, Xavier flew into the box with prey, chirping. Diamond followed him in, snatched the prey and flew back out — down into a spot in the trees. If only it might turn out that Yurruga is down there. Wishful thinking I fear….

      2. I just heard that Xavier had delivered prey. I need to go and watch this. I wonder if she has a place that she goes or if this is unusual. I must ask! I really hope that we all look silly and that little one is down there gorging on breakfast.

      3. Ah, your book is scheduled to arrive in about three weeks. Looking forward to reading more of your poems, Betty.

      4. I have made queries and Diamond doesn’t eat in the scrape unless she is feeding a youngster. It is according to my source a rather sacred place. So no doubt she took the food to her favourite perch for breakfast.

      5. Alas, I was afraid of that. Still not giving up hope yet. Thanks for letting me know what you found out.

      6. You are welcome. I actually did not know where she ate her prey as I don’t watch the scrape when there is not a chick or eggs. So I learned something. But, yes, if it had been otherwise. I see your note re Poland. It is tragic. A friend of mine is very upset about this – they are putting barbed wire everywhere. People migrate. Birds and animals migrate. Tragedy.

  3. Akane says:

    It’s very, very sad, but I haven’t given up hope yet.
    I found a video on YouTube that shows a falcon calling in the middle of the night.
    I think it might be a yurruga.

    P.S. Glad to see my English is coming through!

    1. Your English is very very good, Akane. We are all so hoping. I wish there were lots of people to help look through those trees with leaves. They are such tall trees and the falcon is so tiny. We keep our hope and send warm wishes and positive thoughts for little Yurruga.

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