Tuesday 15 January 2019

'She's one of the family' - family pleads for safe return of missing falcon

Tirla when she was 9 weeks old with the Gibney family, who are eager for her safe return
Tirla when she was 9 weeks old with the Gibney family, who are eager for her safe return

Rachel Farrell

A family from Longford are pleading with the public to keep a look out for their missing falcon, known as Tirla.

The well-loved bird went missing on April 26 and despite multiple sightings in Dublin city centre, the bird has yet to be returned.

Father of the family Ronan Gibney is a keen falconer and has been flying birds since he was young. Although Tirla was a bird he flew regularly, her disappearance has impacted the whole family.

"We got her when she was a few weeks old and she's around a year old now. Normally I'd fly her with a tracking system, but she must have caught the wind and taken off," Ronan told Independent.ie.

"While I hunt and fly with her, she's a family pet. She's one of the family really. My little girls would have helped to rare her, she'd be quite close to them."

Despite being a bird of prey, Ronan explains that the reason she's been spotted so close to people is because she "associates more with people".

"It's killing me because if I was anywhere near her, she'd be straight over to me. She's just trying to get close to people, she was rared by myself and the family and she associates more with people than she does with other birds," he said.

"We're anxious to get her back because she is a bird of prey in the big city, she could get hit by a car or something."

Over the last month, there have been multiple sightings of Tirla in Dublin, including in Inchicore, Eden Quay and Sussex Road in Dublin 4.

Ronan is encouraging anyone that thinks they've spotted the bird to email longfordfalcon@gmail.com straight away, alongside a picture of the bird.

Tirla can be recognised by the leather straps she's wearing on each leg, and she has a bell on her left leg.

Members of the public can also contact the Irish Hawking Club or the Dublin School of Falconry on Facebook or Twitter if they have information.

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