A KAMIKAZE bird of prey has astonished vets by returning to hunting weeks after crashing into a fence at 60mph – and losing an eye.
Meg the goshawk was believed to have been fatally injured in the horrific accident which happened in December as she chased a pheasant.
But Meg has not only returned to the skies above the Cairngorms, she has learned how to hunt with just one eye.
The remarkable raptor is back earning her keep by killing rabbits for estate owners.
Goshawks are notoriously ferocious and determined predators, crashing through treetops and even running on the ground to make a kill.
But Meg’s killer instinct very nearly killed her shortly before Christmas when she flew into a wire fence at almost 90ft per second.
Roxanne Peggie, of owners Elite Falconry, said: “Goshawks are incredibly focussed and really fast. They don’t focus on the things between them and their prey.
“She hit the fence at 60 mile per hour. At one point we thought we were going to have to put her down.”
Barry Blyther, head falconer of the Fife-based firm, said: “On arriving at the scene, I was sure she was dead. She was upside-down, one leg weakly pawing at the air.
“I gathered her up, and unbelievably, by the time I had grabbed a phone, she was coming round, and stood on my gloved hand.”
Falkirk-based vet Alistair Lawrie, an expert on birds of prey, told Meg’s owners he had never seen a living bird with such bad injuries.
“The bony frame of her eye socket was turned inside out and sticking out of her face,” said Barry.
But after surgery and receiving a cocktail of drugs, Meg made a rapid recovery.
Barry said that one day, while sitting on Roxanne’s fist, Meg blinked her blind eye.
“This was brilliant news,” said Barry, “as a working eyelid would keep the eye clean and infection free.”
The handlers risked flying her again.
As well as regaining her flying skills, Meg is able to hunt and kill with just one eye, despite losing the depth perception benefit of having two eyes.
She is good enough to be used by Grampian gamekeepers for hunting rabbits.
Barry said: “She is a remarkable bird who is a joy to fly. So what if she blinks infrequently, and is a little less than pretty on one side?
She’s reliable and effective.
“Her quality of life is superb, and if all goes well, our half blind Goshawk will produce young sometime soon, maybe even this summer.”
Roxanne said it was the first case they had come across of a one-eyed Goshawk being flown.
She said: “There’s possibly an issue with depth perception but the other eye is still working very well.
“Raptors can see things two-and-a-half times larger than we can and in eight times greater detail.
“She’ll never be completely 100%, but she’s doing incredibly well.
“She’s almost where she was before.”