A couple picked up an unusual hitchhiker during a New Year's Day road trip in the Southern California desert.
Marie Kubin was trying to snap a photo of a rainbow Monday 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.
The bird remained perched on a wiper blade for about 20 minutes, having a look around at the desert landscape and his traveling companions. The couple waited on the side of the road with their new feathered friend, who eventually flew away.
Many on social media noticed the falcon had anklets, used with jesses to tether birds, around its legs. The loops suggest it might belong to a falconer and likely is used to being around humans.
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The mystery was solved when the bird's owner, who identified the falcon as Pancho, stepped forward to say Pancho was just fine and back on his arm.
Cisco Clibourne, the bird's owner who says they have an incredible bond, didn't think anything of Pancho's 20-minute disappearance -- until he got a call from his buddy.
"I’m on my way home and I get a text from a buddy of mine -- us falconers are really close," Clibourne said.
His friend asked if he lost his bird after seeing a video that showed a falcon who looked just like Pancho riding on a hood.
Clibourne said there was no way it was Pancho -- he was right there with him. Then he went online.
"I’m floored when I see the video," he said. "My mouth is wide open. I go, 'Oh my god, that is my bird.'"
Clibourne said when Pancho went missing for 20 minutes, he figured he was out having fun. He swung his lure, a line with a piece of meat to bring Pancho back, and back he came -- flying back 100 mph.
He had no idea Pancho, a 9-year-old peregrine falcon he's had since the bird was a baby, was out hitchhiking across the highway.
"I would have never in my wildest dreams thought this would have happened," he said.