By Jim Haddadin MetroWest Daily News
Posted May. 2, 2015 at 9:40 AM
Updated May 2, 2015 at 9:57 AM
WESTBORO — Matt Collins knew almost immediately on Friday that something was wrong as he stood on a hillside to watch a peregrine falcon being released back into the wild.
When the bird began to flap its wings, an expletive rang out from the men huddled in a clearing behind the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife headquarters, where about 50 people had gathered to watch the bird begin its journey back home.
Master falconer Bill Johnston and Tom French, MassWildlife’s assistant director of natural heritage and endangered species programs, were tasked with setting the bird free. They planned to simultaneously cut the leather straps around the bird’s talons and remove the leather hood wrapped around its head – a tool used to keep the bird calm during the release ceremony.
But as soon as French snipped apart the leather straps, the bird took flight, leaving them helpless to yank away the hood covering its eyes.
Some in the crowd gasped as the bird swooped down toward them, flying blindly in the direction of an office building a few dozen feet away.