The young female falcon, named Nekala, was his pride and joy and when she did not come back for four days, he thought she was gone forever.
But, unlike in the classic Ken Loach film, Kes, in which a schoolboy from Barnsley tragically loses his pet kestrel, James was to be reunited with his bird of prey.
As luck would have it, the young bird took off towards the Yorkshire Wolds and landed just a few miles from the home of wildlife artist Robert E Fuller.
The artist’s extensive knowledge of birds of prey meant that he was able to identify the falcon immediately and advertise its loss on his Facebook page, where he has a large following of bird lovers.
“A neighbouring farmer spotted her and noticed that she was ringed, so rang me up,” said the artist, whose home and gallery is based in Thixendale, North Yorkshire.
“I drove out and picked her up, then posted a picture of her with an appeal on Facebook. By the following morning I’d found her owner – it’s amazing what social media can do.
“I’m just so pleased that they are reunited, James was so happy to have her back.”
Nakela had travelled about 70 miles and had chewed the aerial off the transmitter attached to her leg, so that James could not track her.
The teenager, who works at the SMJ Falconry centre in Oxenhope, near Keighley, had been showing the lanner falcon when she did not return from a display flight.
Chris Johnson, of SMJ Falconry, said they had driven for miles and walked the surrounding area calling for the bird, but had almost given up hope of finding her.
James’ mother Bev Dickinson said: “My son is overjoyed at getting Nekala back.
“At 17 he tried hard not to shed a tear, but we are so grateful and thankful that she seems okay,” she added.