Falcon fan saves baby bird from hungry crows after it FELL off Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and disappeared for a week
A baby falcon that nests at the top of the Palace of Culture has been rescued after surviving almost certain death following a fall from the 45th floor.
Falcon enthusiasts who monitor the family of predators believed that after four days outside the nest, the young bird named Varso would have succumbed to its injuries or been gobbled up by crows.
However, a miracle happened when a palace office worker noticed Varso on an eighth-floor roof still alive.
Varso, a curious and courageous young bird, had already tried several times to leave the nest before his death-defying plunge just over a week ago.
The drama began on 19 May, at exactly 8.34 p.m., when Varso approached the edge of the guttering by its nesting box just under the spire of the Palace of Culture, took one step too many and fell.
The fall was observed by hundreds of horrified falcon enthusiasts, who watch the birds via one of six cameras at the palace that provide a live feed of the falcon family – mother Giga, father Franek and three siblings, Varso and his sisters Aria and Iga.
Some of the observers from the Facebook group FalcoFani set out to look for Varso. They combed through bushes and car parks, and used telescopes, binoculars and even drones to observe the palace, which in contrast to the smooth glass skyscrapers surrounding it is full of nooks and crannies where a bird could get trapped.
With special access from security guards at the palace they also made a sweep of the upper terraces. However, there was no sign of Varso.
One member of the group searching for Varso was Jola Saratowicz. She became involved in observing the Warsaw falcons online during the pandemic when she was forced to spend a lot of time at home.
She told Polish media: “It was very difficult. He fell from the 45th floor, he couldn't fly. Everything seemed to indicate that he was lying somewhere broken, crows were eating him, or there was no telling what else might be happening to him.”
By Sunday, after four days of intense searching, she and her colleagues had given up all hope of finding Varso alive.
And then the miracle happened. On Tuesday, a friend working at the palace sent Saratowicz a photo taken on a smartphone.
“The photograph was very blurred. There was a bird on it, […] sitting on the roof of the Youth Palace, on the eighth floor; the photo was taken with a mobile phone from the thirteenth floor,” she said.
Saratowicz headed to the palace immediately and after confirming that the bird really was Varso by its distinctive plumage stepped out gingerly onto the roof.
Though scared of heights, the roof of the Youth Palace, a zone within the main palace, is walled on each side, so Saratowicz felt safe to go out to the bird.
After a good while chasing the young falcon around, she finally managed to grab it.
“To my eye he was in good shape, but he had to be examined by specialists,” she said. Varso was sent immediately to the Bird Asylum at Warsaw Zoo to be cared for.
How he ended up on the roof of the Youth Palace is not clear. One theory is that he fell from the 45th floor in stages.
Office workers saw him being attacked by crows, but they managed to scare them off by throwing stones.
At Warsaw Zoo, Varso was found not to have any serious injuries and after a few days he was reunited with his parents and sisters at the palace, where he is now thriving.
Sławomir Sielicki from the Sokół Society for Wild Animals, which monitors the nest at the palace along with around twenty others throughout Poland, pointed out that though it is rare for young falcons to fall out of their nest, this was not the first time Varso had taken such dangerous steps.
Several times the young falcon had stepped into the gutter by its nest, from where he was rescued by bird lovers.
“Let's hope he won't take any more risks. We have secured the nest so that he cannot leave it. However, we don't know whether Varso won't be tempted by another adventure,” said Sielicki.
Peregrine falcons are one of the rarest birds of prey in Poland. As ornithologists from the Sokół Association for Wild Animals explain, at the beginning of the 20th century it was a species that was widespread throughout the country, albeit not very numerous. Around 1950, there was a catastrophic decline in the population.
The last falcon nest in Poland was observed in the mid-1960s, and since then the birds have been seen only sporadically.
Falcons have been living in a nest on the Palace of Culture and Science since 1998 as part of a programme to reintroduce peregrine falcons.