Aida: a heartbreaking update on our beloved lanner

Aida reaching for the sky: her first flights around her hacking box

Aida, our beloved lanner falcon we’ve talked to you about, took off for her first flights around her hacking box in mid-June. Just a few days later, she was sharing her gradual path back to the wild with Ambra, another lanner at the Vico rescue centre. Constantly monitored by the watchful eye of our collaborator Veronica, Aida grew more experienced in flight and learned to feed “on the fly”.

To facilitate her in refining her instincts, we followed a protocol we are striving to increasingly refine, so to increase the likelihood of survival after release. Aida learned to fly, improving on her physical performance day by day. She started reaching for the skies until she became a single far-away dot against the blue. Then she dived back down to find a tree, a shrub, or any other perch. She knew the surroundings of the hacking box very well, and always found the right place to have a rest.

An unexpected turn towards complete freedom

Then on July 8, with the help of a particularly windy day, Aida chose complete freedom and went on her adventure as shown on the map that Ornis italica, project partner, has created starting from the coordinates transmitted by the GPS tag worn by our lanner, deployed exactly for this purpose.

The lanner falcon visited Lazio, Umbria, Abruzzo, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Piedmont before starting a possible return trip. During all this wandering, she overflew the provinces of Viterbo, Terni, Perugia, Rieti, L’Aquila, Rome, Viterbo, Grosseto, Siena, Florence, Pistoia, Bologna, Modena, Reggio-Emilia, Parma, Cremona, Lodi, Pavia, Alessandria, Turin, Cuneo, Asti, Alessandria, Pavia and Piacenza. A fully unexpected tour that opens up new scenarios in the conservation of this species.

lanner falcon trip
A map of Aida’s trip around Italy with the location dates along the path.

Further investigations needed to ascertain the cause of death

On July 20, the GPS tag started sending locations that were too close to one another for an unnatural time period. Veronica set off in search of Aida, found dead near the last detected positions. Our first inspection does not seem to reveal impacts or visible trauma, but any possible cause will now be evaluated by the IZSLT (Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute for Lazio and Tuscany), project partner and national reference center for this type of investigation.

We want to share with you the first interpretations we can give of this long flight. Aida has used isolated trees, groves, wetlands, large electricity pylons. This supports us in the idea that this breeding and release protocol is suitable for our purpose, albeit having room for improvement especially when it comes to considering the character of each individual animal we manage.

Aida, it was beautiful to follow your GPS locations day by day and see you flying all around Italy.