The Story of Pancho the Hitchhiker Falcon

It all started in a Desert about an hour from Julian on New Years day.  My mission that day was to test my peregrine falcons flying abilities and I needed a flat uninhibited area. Weeks back Pancho had been injured by a red tail hawk and sustained permanent eye damage in one eye. After Pancho recovered and seemed to be back in good health I was eager to get him back in the sky to test his flying abilities.   I released Pancho off of my glove and up he went.  He soared high and soon caught a thermal.  After a while I lost sight of him and assumed he was enjoying some much needed flying time.  I patiently gave him the time he needed to exercise his wings.  I couldn't see him but was reassured that there is nowhere he could go as we where in a flat desert. It was 20 minutes later that I swung my lure and he returned in no time. After that Pancho and I headed home to Julian.  Days later I got a call from a buddy asking me if I lost my bird.  I reassured him that Pancho was right here with me.  After watching the video on NBC Los Angeles news I was shocked.  That was in fact Pancho taking a ride on the hood of a strangers car in the desert.  To my surprise this was already becoming a viral sensation.  My wife then quickly added a comment that that was our bird Pancho and informed them that I was a master falconer.  The 20 minutes that I assumed Pancho was in the sky while at the desert, Pancho was actually hitchhiking a ride on the hood of a traveling car. Minutes later NBC contacted me and I was able to give my side of the story in hopes to clear up some misunderstanding. It was then that learned that during the 20 minutes Pancho was out of my site there was a couple nearby driving along the highway trying to snap a photo of a rainbow during a drive from Julian to Borrego Springs in San Diego County. As they drove slowly on the side of the road to capture the colorful sight on the horizon, something else swooped into view -- a falcon landed on the car's windshield. They took a video of this rare and spectacular sight of a falcon starring into their window while they were driving and uploaded it to the internet.  From there Pancho became the traveling hitchhiker falcon and an internet sensation.


The first story on NBC news

The traveling Hitchhiker falcon

Follow us: @NBCLA on Twitter | NBCLA on Facebook

The Follow up story up after my interview