Kawhi Leonard has received a number of honours since coming to Toronto. The Raptors star has been offered everything from free food for life to a million-dollar condo in the city if he chooses to re-sign with the Raptors. The latest tribute to Kawhi, however, is a little more on the wild side. A newborn Ontario peregrine falcon named after was recently named after the baller and boy, is it ever cute!
CTV reports that a group of falcon watchers was invited to the media outlet’s Kitchener headquarters on Tuesday to witness the Canadian Peregrine Foundation banding and weighing of three newly hatched “raptors”, a nickname sometimes given to birds of prey.
“To see the little ones up close is a real treat, something that people don’t get to see very often,” gushed falcon-watcher Cathi Stewart during an interview with CTV.
According to the Ontario provincial government, peregrine falcons are typically found around Lake Superior and parts of northwestern Ontario. However, they have also been known to nest in Toronto and several other southern-region cities. Young peregrine falcons like Kawhi have a dangerously high mortality rate. Seventy percent of all peregrines don’t make it past their first year, but if the falcon manages to survive, it can live up to 15 years.
Little Kawhi the falcon was banded so that experts can track him. “We want to know where they get to and their migratory patterns,” said Rudy Kruppa, an employee of the foundation that banded the falcon.
Peregrines were once added to the endangered species list after they disappeared from Ontario entirely back in the 60s. However, the installation of captive-breeding programs ultimately helped get the falcon's population back under control.
Meanwhile, the real Kawhi Leonard is leading the Raptors to the NBA Finals for the first time in the team’s history. Toronto will face off against the Golden State Warrior this Thursday in what will be the first game of the series. Kawhi the falcon shares its name with Toronto's newest basketball legend.