Juvenile falcon pictured with disposable face mask tangled in its talons

A young peregrine falcon was captured on camera with its talons tangled in a disposable face mask.

Hoping he would spot the majestic bird, photographer Steve Shipley travelled all the way to North Yorkshire – its natural habitat. Although Shipley did manage to see the falcon and capture it on his camera, he witnessed something terribly distressing.

Sadly, the juvenile falcon had its talons tangled around a discharged face mask.

Image: Steve Shipley

While the world is currently suffering a global pandemic, face masks and coverings are still mandatory in many countries. Unfortunately, as most people use disposable face masks, they end up littering the environment if not discarded properly.

When the 53-year-old photographer spotted the peregrine, he noticed it was carrying something, but he wasn’t sure what the object was. Later, when Steve looked back at the photos, he realized it was a blue face mask. He explained:

“They are such beautiful birds. Initially I thought this one was carrying a plastic bag but then I spotted the blue colour and realised it was a face mask.”

Image: Steve Shipley

The mask was probably thrown away by tourists visiting the area. Steve believes the young falcon must have spotted is and swooped down to grab it, thinking it could be food. Luckily, the bird didn’t try to eat the mask, as it ‘could have died’, Steve assumes. The photographer commented:

“The peregrine is one of the most protected birds in the country and this is one of the saddest things I have seen while I have been doing wildlife photography. Why can’t people dispose of these masks properly? They are supposed to protect us but obviously not wildlife.”

As face coverings will probably be a necessary everyday item for a while, it’s our job to make sure we use them properly and protect both our health and the environment.

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