Benedict did the logical thing for someone who’s hungry. He headed for the grocery store.
A family who found the falcon on the hood of a car parked outside a Safeway store earlier this month did something others might not have: They grabbed the bird, took his photo and set out to find his owners via social media.
It worked, and Benedict is safe at home again.
On Tuesday, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department posted on Facebook about Benedict’s journey.
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The bird went missing May 2 in Lakewood. Benedict’s owner, John Prucich, is a licensed falconer who puts on shows with his birds around the region, deputies reported.
He’d been especially worried about Benedict, because he has a special diet and might have died if he hadn’t been found soon.
Four days later, he showed up outside the Safeway at 11501 Canyon Road E.
The family who spotted the feathery fugitive used a leather glove and a dog crate to nab and hold him and then posted photos on social media.
They eventually hooked up with Prucich, and deputies reviewed a band on the bird’s leg and photos provided by his owner to verify ownership.
The bird was well cared for, the Sheriff’s Department reported, but was happy to be reunited with Prucich on Sunday morning.
Prucich told The News Tribune on Wednesday he’s not sure how the falcon escaped, but thinks some of his gear malfunctioned.
He and Benedict live in Seattle, and were at a meeting in Lakewood when the bird took off.
The falconer explained that positive reinforcement with food is part of Benedict’s training, and that he had less incentive to come back the day he escaped, because he’d already been getting extra food.
He needed the extra calories, because he was molting.
“When he’s changing his feathers out, he has to have more energy,” Prucich said.
A few days later, the bird’s stomach was grumbling, and he found himself some humans to help.
“He sees people as a resource for food,” Prucich said. “They give him what they want.”
He said Benedict was doing well since his return home, and that the bird would be heading out to an educational event Wednesday night.
But in the future, Prucich said, a GPS tracker the falcon sometimes wears might become a regular part of his routine.