My Latest Endeavor...

Tom

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YOW!!!!
SO GLAD the boys stood up for you!!!!
It seems like several of your female hawks have been real witches (I wrote "witch" in my post, but in my mind I substituted a B for the W!
Its kind of like doing bite work with dogs... Its not a question of IF you'll get bit, its a question of WHEN you'll get bit.
 

Moozillion

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Its kind of like doing bite work with dogs... Its not a question of IF you'll get bit, its a question of WHEN you'll get bit.
Did Seven or Sophie ever bite you?
How did you react?
 

Tom

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What an amazing journey this falconry thing is. So much to learn and experience... Here are some updates:

1. Summer is coming along slowly but surely. I've managed to get her some slips at rabbits while riding the T perch. She's starting to grasp why we are out there and what we are doing. She's beginning to see the advantage of hanging out with me and the boys, and she's actively participating in group chases and catches now. Best of all, she wants to catch every rabbit she sees. The natural instincts are strong and she's quickly learning the ways of the wiley rabbits. About half the time I take her out alone. This is primarily so I can work with her one on one and really get the rewards and timing perfect. A side benefit is that this allows the boys to really do their thing without having to wait around for the new girl to catch up and figure it out. On her last solo outing she went for a jack in the distance. It dodged her and took cover in some nearby bushes. She stayed after it and waited patiently for her opportunity. As we watched, the rabbit broke cover and tried to run across a large open area to make it to the safety of heavy cover. It did't make it. She was after it instantly. Her speed and determination was impressive. She overtook it just before it reached cover, and she held on to it until I got there to help her. It was glorious. Her very first jack on her own. She handled it well and did her job.
IMG 5562
IMG 5576
 

Tom

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2. The boys are on it this year like never before. I'm amazed daily by their skills and abilities. Game is super scarce this year. I can't hunt in most of my old fields and am constantly searching for new ones. We had that horrible RHD run through the south western US last year, two years of hardly any rain, and the normal natural downturn in the rabbit population that was due anyway, and it is tough out there. I've been doing some catch and release. The birds get their exercise and mental fulfillment, and the rabbits get to live and hopefully breed.

3. There is a concept called "cottontail poisoning". Many fields have both jacks and cottontails. As soon as your hawk sees a cottontail, it tends to ignore the much larger and more formidable jacks in the same field. My boys did this constantly the first year, and less so in their second hunting season. Their minds become "poisoned" with the idea of the less scary cottontails. Cottontails weigh in at about 1000-1300 grams. Jacks tip the scales at 2300-2700 grams. My boys hunt at a weight of around 650 grams, and Summer is around 830. The saying is: Cottontails are difficult to catch, but easy to hold on to. Jacks are easy to catch, but difficult to hold on to. These statements are generally true, though I don't think there is anything easy about catching a jack rabbit. Cottontails run at an amazing speed and dive in to the safety of a burrow within seconds of bolting. The birds have only seconds to try to catch up to them and get a foot on them. They fail most of the time, even when working in pairs. Jacks don't go underground. They will use cover to dodge the birds or hide, but they are still there and you can keep flushing them if you saw where they went, which is easier said than done. Jacks regularly ditch both boys. I often don't even see which way they went in heavier cover. Having another set of eyes, Summer, has made it more difficult for the jacks to ditch us, and I've gotten to witness some fantastic rabbit footwork trying to dodge 3 birds. The rabbits still win most of the time, but the boys have been relentless this year. The scarcity of game, their experience level, and their maturity has made them less selective about their targets. In some fields, if they see one, they stay after it until they catch it. I've been doing a lot of sprinting this year. Last year they would give up if the rabbit dodged them a time or two since they knew there would be another one jumping up in short order. No such luxury this year.

4. Managing three birds on a kill is no small feat. I'm struggling to figure out a good way to do it. Today I called and talked to the man who is probably the world's foremost authority on all things Harris' Hawk. The man, and his wife, have been selectively breeding and hunting HHs for more than 3 decades. The knowledge and experience in that man's head is unparalleled in the world. I'm speaking of Tom Coulson. He and his lovely wife Jennifer literally wrote the book on Harris' Hawks:
Promo Dust Jacket LR

In the book they frequently speak of and describe hawking with several birds at a time. I figure if anyone knows the secret to managing three on a kill at one time, this would be him. For me, it was like talking to a rock star. He was super friendly, helpful, and willing to share is time and knowledge with a total stranger who just called him out of the blue. We talked for quite a while. I explained my situation and methods, and he assured me I was doing a great job, and also shared a ton of insight during the course of the conversation. He told me that he'd tried to fly three birds by himself in the past and found it too difficult to be worthwhile. For him, it took too much of the fun out of it. There is just no easy way to get it done once they are on a rabbit together. He had some suggestions to try to make it easier for me, and I will try those out, but he was unable to find a good solution to the problems he encountered when he was doing it. I'm going to wrack my brain and see if I can find a novel solution to this problem. I'm sure it will be a lot of failures to reach a little success. Solving these types of animal problems is EXACTLY what I do for a living daily. I'm working on it...
 

Moozillion

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2. The boys are on it this year like never before. I'm amazed daily by their skills and abilities. Game is super scarce this year. I can't hunt in most of my old fields and am constantly searching for new ones. We had that horrible RHD run through the south western US last year, two years of hardly any rain, and the normal natural downturn in the rabbit population that was due anyway, and it is tough out there. I've been doing some catch and release. The birds get their exercise and mental fulfillment, and the rabbits get to live and hopefully breed.

3. There is a concept called "cottontail poisoning". Many fields have both jacks and cottontails. As soon as your hawk sees a cottontail, it tends to ignore the much larger and more formidable jacks in the same field. My boys did this constantly the first year, and less so in their second hunting season. Their minds become "poisoned" with the idea of the less scary cottontails. Cottontails weigh in at about 1000-1300 grams. Jacks tip the scales at 2300-2700 grams. My boys hunt at a weight of around 650 grams, and Summer is around 830. The saying is: Cottontails are difficult to catch, but easy to hold on to. Jacks are easy to catch, but difficult to hold on to. These statements are generally true, though I don't think there is anything easy about catching a jack rabbit. Cottontails run at an amazing speed and dive in to the safety of a burrow within seconds of bolting. The birds have only seconds to try to catch up to them and get a foot on them. They fail most of the time, even when working in pairs. Jacks don't go underground. They will use cover to dodge the birds or hide, but they are still there and you can keep flushing them if you saw where they went, which is easier said than done. Jacks regularly ditch both boys. I often don't even see which way they went in heavier cover. Having another set of eyes, Summer, has made it more difficult for the jacks to ditch us, and I've gotten to witness some fantastic rabbit footwork trying to dodge 3 birds. The rabbits still win most of the time, but the boys have been relentless this year. The scarcity of game, their experience level, and their maturity has made them less selective about their targets. In some fields, if they see one, they stay after it until they catch it. I've been doing a lot of sprinting this year. Last year they would give up if the rabbit dodged them a time or two since they knew there would be another one jumping up in short order. No such luxury this year.

4. Managing three birds on a kill is no small feat. I'm struggling to figure out a good way to do it. Today I called and talked to the man who is probably the world's foremost authority on all things Harris' Hawk. The man, and his wife, have been selectively breeding and hunting HHs for more than 3 decades. The knowledge and experience in that man's head is unparalleled in the world. I'm speaking of Tom Coulson. He and his lovely wife Jennifer literally wrote the book on Harris' Hawks:
View attachment 335919

In the book they frequently speak of and describe hawking with several birds at a time. I figure if anyone knows the secret to managing three on a kill at one time, this would be him. For me, it was like talking to a rock star. He was super friendly, helpful, and willing to share is time and knowledge with a total stranger who just called him out of the blue. We talked for quite a while. I explained my situation and methods, and he assured me I was doing a great job, and also shared a ton of insight during the course of the conversation. He told me that he'd tried to fly three birds by himself in the past and found it too difficult to be worthwhile. For him, it took too much of the fun out of it. There is just no easy way to get it done once they are on a rabbit together. He had some suggestions to try to make it easier for me, and I will try those out, but he was unable to find a good solution to the problems he encountered when he was doing it. I'm going to wrack my brain and see if I can find a novel solution to this problem. I'm sure it will be a lot of failures to reach a little success. Solving these types of animal problems is EXACTLY what I do for a living daily. I'm working on it...
So cool, Tom, so cool!!! :cool:
 

Tom

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Sooooooo, about flying three birds...

Its not easy. Its a lot to manage. Trading them off on a kill is dicey and a bit of a challenge. When its just two birds, I toss food to the side for one bird and then toss food the other way for the other one. Then, whoever finishes eating first comes back to the glove where I hold him until brother is done eating. If I didn't do this, they would try to steal each others food and get into a fight. When brother is done eating, we simply walk back to the car or resume hunting. When I have three birds out, I need one hand to manipulate jesses and get food out and ready, the other hand has a bird on it, and then I still have two birds loose and eating. Its when bird number two finishes eating, but bird number three is still eating, that I have a problem. I'm not giving up, and things are going extremely well, but I do have to admit that it is difficult, problematic, and it takes some of the fun out of it.

For the time being, I think it will be safest and best for the birds if I don't try to fly all three of them together when I am alone. I'll fly Rick and Morty as usual, and Summer can hunt with just me. I'll fly them all together whenever I have another person with me that can handle a bird. This is the conclusion I've come to after thinking it over, talking to Tom, and repeated attempts to do it on my own.

Summer is advancing nicely and turning into a great hunter. She now knows what we are doing out there, and she's on the lookout for prey. She seems to be understanding my role more and more each time we go out, and she's learning how to use my activities to her advantage. She's also doing a fabulous job of working with the boys and following their lead. The three of them nailed a cottontail this morning and they all hit it within a second of each other. She actively scans for any sort of rabbit movement and then gives it her all when she spots one. You can see the result a few posts back, and she's beginning to rack up a head count. My friend who gave her to me is pretty happy about it. This is exactly what he wanted for her.

So yesterday, all three birds went after a cottontail and it ducked into heavy cover under a bush. When it failed to flush, I figured it went underground as they almost always do. I moved on and Rick and Summer joined me. Morty stayed behind, as he often does, hoping that Mr. Bun Bun would show himself again after I left. I glanced back just in time to see Morty dive into the middle of that big bush, just as a big jack jumped up right in front of us. Summer and Rick took off after it immediately and chased it across the entire field before finally catching it together. I ran as fast as I could to assist.
View attachment 336048

Once the jack rabbit was in the bag and Rick and Summer were eating their rewards, I stood up and looked for Morty. He's usually right there with us when a catch is made, and there was no sign of him. That could only mean one thing. He caught one on his own. Rick finished eating first, so I picked him up and walked him back to the car leaving Summer to finish her meal alone, and not even knowing for sure where Mort ended up. I retrieved my telemetry receiver and searched out Mortimer first. I knew where Summer was, so I wasn't worried about her. Found Mort here:
View attachment 336049

I traded him off of his bunny, and left him to eat while I went to pick up Summer. I walked Summer back to the car, figuring I'd come back for Morty. It is about a 1/4 mile walk to the car from where we were with some tall hills obscuring the view. As I approached the car, Morty "buzzed the tower" flying right past my head to let me know he was there. Saved me another half mile of walking. Good boy Mort.

All of that explanation was so I could say: See what I mean? It can get pretty complicated.
 

Jan A

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Sooooooo, about flying three birds...

Its not easy. Its a lot to manage. Trading them off on a kill is dicey and a bit of a challenge. When its just two birds, I toss food to the side for one bird and then toss food the other way for the other one. Then, whoever finishes eating first comes back to the glove where I hold him until brother is done eating. If I didn't do this, they would try to steal each others food and get into a fight. When brother is done eating, we simply walk back to the car or resume hunting. When I have three birds out, I need one hand to manipulate jesses and get food out and ready, the other hand has a bird on it, and then I still have two birds loose and eating. Its when bird number two finishes eating, but bird number three is still eating, that I have a problem. I'm not giving up, and things are going extremely well, but I do have to admit that it is difficult, problematic, and it takes some of the fun out of it.

For the time being, I think it will be safest and best for the birds if I don't try to fly all three of them together when I am alone. I'll fly Rick and Morty as usual, and Summer can hunt with just me. I'll fly them all together whenever I have another person with me that can handle a bird. This is the conclusion I've come to after thinking it over, talking to Tom, and repeated attempts to do it on my own.

Summer is advancing nicely and turning into a great hunter. She now knows what we are doing out there, and she's on the lookout for prey. She seems to be understanding my role more and more each time we go out, and she's learning how to use my activities to her advantage. She's also doing a fabulous job of working with the boys and following their lead. The three of them nailed a cottontail this morning and they all hit it within a second of each other. She actively scans for any sort of rabbit movement and then gives it her all when she spots one. You can see the result a few posts back, and she's beginning to rack up a head count. My friend who gave her to me is pretty happy about it. This is exactly what he wanted for her.

So yesterday, all three birds went after a cottontail and it ducked into heavy cover under a bush. When it failed to flush, I figured it went underground as they almost always do. I moved on and Rick and Summer joined me. Morty stayed behind, as he often does, hoping that Mr. Bun Bun would show himself again after I left. I glanced back just in time to see Morty dive into the middle of that big bush, just as a big jack jumped up right in front of us. Summer and Rick took off after it immediately and chased it across the entire field before finally catching it together. I ran as fast as I could to assist.
View attachment 336048

Once the jack rabbit was in the bag and Rick and Summer were eating their rewards, I stood up and looked for Morty. He's usually right there with us when a catch is made, and there was no sign of him. That could only mean one thing. He caught one on his own. Rick finished eating first, so I picked him up and walked him back to the car leaving Summer to finish her meal alone, and not even knowing for sure where Mort ended up. I retrieved my telemetry receiver and searched out Mortimer first. I knew where Summer was, so I wasn't worried about her. Found Mort here:
View attachment 336049

I traded him off of his bunny, and left him to eat while I went to pick up Summer. I walked Summer back to the car, figuring I'd come back for Morty. It is about a 1/4 mile walk to the car from where we were with some tall hills obscuring the view. As I approached the car, Morty "buzzed the tower" flying right past my head to let me know he was there. Saved me another half mile of walking. Good boy Mort.

All of that explanation was so I could say: See what I mean? It can get pretty complicated.
Gawd, what a lot of fast-action movie adventure packed into a very few hours. I luv this thread. Outside of fishing, I just have no experience w/anything like this. Thank you so much for sharing!!
 

Moozillion

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Sooooooo, about flying three birds...

Its not easy. Its a lot to manage. Trading them off on a kill is dicey and a bit of a challenge. When its just two birds, I toss food to the side for one bird and then toss food the other way for the other one. Then, whoever finishes eating first comes back to the glove where I hold him until brother is done eating. If I didn't do this, they would try to steal each others food and get into a fight. When brother is done eating, we simply walk back to the car or resume hunting. When I have three birds out, I need one hand to manipulate jesses and get food out and ready, the other hand has a bird on it, and then I still have two birds loose and eating. Its when bird number two finishes eating, but bird number three is still eating, that I have a problem. I'm not giving up, and things are going extremely well, but I do have to admit that it is difficult, problematic, and it takes some of the fun out of it.

For the time being, I think it will be safest and best for the birds if I don't try to fly all three of them together when I am alone. I'll fly Rick and Morty as usual, and Summer can hunt with just me. I'll fly them all together whenever I have another person with me that can handle a bird. This is the conclusion I've come to after thinking it over, talking to Tom, and repeated attempts to do it on my own.

Summer is advancing nicely and turning into a great hunter. She now knows what we are doing out there, and she's on the lookout for prey. She seems to be understanding my role more and more each time we go out, and she's learning how to use my activities to her advantage. She's also doing a fabulous job of working with the boys and following their lead. The three of them nailed a cottontail this morning and they all hit it within a second of each other. She actively scans for any sort of rabbit movement and then gives it her all when she spots one. You can see the result a few posts back, and she's beginning to rack up a head count. My friend who gave her to me is pretty happy about it. This is exactly what he wanted for her.

So yesterday, all three birds went after a cottontail and it ducked into heavy cover under a bush. When it failed to flush, I figured it went underground as they almost always do. I moved on and Rick and Summer joined me. Morty stayed behind, as he often does, hoping that Mr. Bun Bun would show himself again after I left. I glanced back just in time to see Morty dive into the middle of that big bush, just as a big jack jumped up right in front of us. Summer and Rick took off after it immediately and chased it across the entire field before finally catching it together. I ran as fast as I could to assist.
View attachment 336048

Once the jack rabbit was in the bag and Rick and Summer were eating their rewards, I stood up and looked for Morty. He's usually right there with us when a catch is made, and there was no sign of him. That could only mean one thing. He caught one on his own. Rick finished eating first, so I picked him up and walked him back to the car leaving Summer to finish her meal alone, and not even knowing for sure where Mort ended up. I retrieved my telemetry receiver and searched out Mortimer first. I knew where Summer was, so I wasn't worried about her. Found Mort here:
View attachment 336049

I traded him off of his bunny, and left him to eat while I went to pick up Summer. I walked Summer back to the car, figuring I'd come back for Morty. It is about a 1/4 mile walk to the car from where we were with some tall hills obscuring the view. As I approached the car, Morty "buzzed the tower" flying right past my head to let me know he was there. Saved me another half mile of walking. Good boy Mort.

All of that explanation was so I could say: See what I mean? It can get pretty complicated.
The attachments wouldn't open for me, but the narrative clearly illustrates how complicated flying 3 birds gets. YOW.
 

Tom

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Yo! TOM!
Wassup with all your critters during the winter? (esp the hawks and Seven?)
I keep meaning to do an update, but December is the busiest month in my business.

I've stopped flying Summer, and arrangements have been made for her to go to a new home with someone that will be able to utilize her skills and predilections. She got along great with the boys, but her upbringing and past is apparently a stronger pull on her than hunting with me and the boys. She was raised in a city environment where she flew around from building to building in an area where there were no rabbits. Every time I take her out in to one of my giant rabbit fields, she leaves and goes to an area with buildings instead. I've done all I can to encourage her to stay with me, and I've tried to fly her alone with lots of tid bits rewards and chances at rabbits, and also with the boys, hoping she'd want to stay with her group, but she repeatedly chose to go it alone in an area that looked more like her area where she grew up.

One consequence of this would be that sometimes the only buildings around were houses that lined the edges of the fields, or were visible from some distance away. Summer was originally flown at birds to keep seagulls and pigeons away, though she was never supposed to actually catch them. Part of the reason Summer came to me is because she really really wanted to catch them. Well houses have back yards, and back yards often have critters like small dogs, cats, and chickens. Summer taught herself to fly from roof top to roof top inspecting each back yard, looking for "prey". We had a very unpleasant day where I had to apologize profusely to a family for her killing two of their chickens right in front of them. Luckily, this family had watched me fly birds in the field across the street from their house for years, and this had never happened before, so they were as understanding and forgiving as they could be under the circumstances. I gave them some money for their loss, but that cannot replace their emotional attachment to their pet chickens, or compensate them for the trauma of witnessing that terrible scene. I felt as awful as I've ever felt that day. Also on that unfortunate day, I had all three of the birds up and we had a wonderful morning of hunting in the field. We were walking back to the car with a rabbit in the bag when summer went off on her chicken hunting foray, and the most unfortunate part is that the boys accompanied her. She taught my boys to go for backyard chickens. In one stroke, she just eliminated about half of the fields I used to hunt at because some of them have backyards with chickens near by. Fields that I've hunted for years, I can no longer go to. The boys ignored these chickens and only did what I'd taught them to do: hunt rabbits. None of the three hawks ever even so much as looked at my own chickens which live about 100 feet from their mews. They can see the chickens all day every day, and I fly them loose on the ranch several times a week where if they had any sort of desire to go for a chicken, they freely could, but none of them ever did, and neither did any of my previous redtail hawks. I did not see this coming. Most hawks are selective about what prey they go for. If they willy nilly grabbed anything that moved, they'd quickly be killed in one way or another, and we could never turn them loose within 10 miles of other people or pets. I did not see this coming at all.

It was just a question of time until Summer found a way to get herself or one of my boys killed because of her refusal to get with the program. We are just lucky that those people didn't have a dog, or that they didn't come out and stomp my birds or beat them to death with a stick. I would have completely understood if they had decided to defend their chickens from my marauding hawks. I could not allow that to happen again. The last time I flew Summer I went to an area with good rabbit numbers, and no houses for miles. I put her up with the boys, who she seems to love and get along with, and after a few slips at rabbits, she simply flew off into the distance. I immediately headed back to the car, put the boys away, and began tracking her with telemetry. I found her a few minutes later sitting on a street lamp post over a parking lot with nothing but businesses and asphalt as far as the eye could see. As I stood there looking up at her and looking around at the area, it hit me: The area where we were standing looked a lot like the area where she grew up. She wants to be a city hawk, not a field hawk. How many times would I get away with this before she got hit by a car, caused a car accident, grabbed some person who had a baggie in their hand, grabbed a dog or cat, or some other horrible fate? I decided right then and there, that I did not want to risk her life, or risk disaster any more. I also didn't want her to further corrupt my perfect angelic little boys any further. She immediately called down to me from the lamp post, happy to get a tid bit, and I calmly carried her back to the car, bringing an uneventful end to her time flying with me. She's been hanging out in her large free loft mew next the the boys waiting for the next chapter of her life to begin.

The story will have a happy ending for her. She is going to a very experienced master falconer that is fully aware of her personality quirks, and can utilize her preferences for his business. She will fly again, but it will be in safe areas that will appeal to her preferences. I'm hoping to learn more about her and what to do from my friend that is acquiring her. His knowledge and experience far exceeds mine, and he's been a mentor to me since the beginning of my falconry journey, so I'm excited to learn from his experience with Summer.
 

Ray--Opo

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I keep meaning to do an update, but December is the busiest month in my business.

I've stopped flying Summer, and arrangements have been made for her to go to a new home with someone that will be able to utilize her skills and predilections. She got along great with the boys, but her upbringing and past is apparently a stronger pull on her than hunting with me and the boys. She was raised in a city environment where she flew around from building to building in an area where there were no rabbits. Every time I take her out in to one of my giant rabbit fields, she leaves and goes to an area with buildings instead. I've done all I can to encourage her to stay with me, and I've tried to fly her alone with lots of tid bits rewards and chances at rabbits, and also with the boys, hoping she'd want to stay with her group, but she repeatedly chose to go it alone in an area that looked more like her area where she grew up.

One consequence of this would be that sometimes the only buildings around were houses that lined the edges of the fields, or were visible from some distance away. Summer was originally flown at birds to keep seagulls and pigeons away, though she was never supposed to actually catch them. Part of the reason Summer came to me is because she really really wanted to catch them. Well houses have back yards, and back yards often have critters like small dogs, cats, and chickens. Summer taught herself to fly from roof top to roof top inspecting each back yard, looking for "prey". We had a very unpleasant day where I had to apologize profusely to a family for her killing two of their chickens right in front of them. Luckily, this family had watched me fly birds in the field across the street from their house for years, and this had never happened before, so they were as understanding and forgiving as they could be under the circumstances. I gave them some money for their loss, but that cannot replace their emotional attachment to their pet chickens, or compensate them for the trauma of witnessing that terrible scene. I felt as awful as I've ever felt that day. Also on that unfortunate day, I had all three of the birds up and we had a wonderful morning of hunting in the field. We were walking back to the car with a rabbit in the bag when summer went off on her chicken hunting foray, and the most unfortunate part is that the boys accompanied her. She taught my boys to go for backyard chickens. In one stroke, she just eliminated about half of the fields I used to hunt at because some of them have backyards with chickens near by. Fields that I've hunted for years, I can no longer go to. The boys ignored these chickens and only did what I'd taught them to do: hunt rabbits. None of the three hawks ever even so much as looked at my own chickens which live about 100 feet from their mews. They can see the chickens all day every day, and I fly them loose on the ranch several times a week where if they had any sort of desire to go for a chicken, they freely could, but none of them ever did, and neither did any of my previous redtail hawks. I did not see this coming. Most hawks are selective about what prey they go for. If they willy nilly grabbed anything that moved, they'd quickly be killed in one way or another, and we could never turn them loose within 10 miles of other people or pets. I did not see this coming at all.

It was just a question of time until Summer found a way to get herself or one of my boys killed because of her refusal to get with the program. We are just lucky that those people didn't have a dog, or that they didn't come out and stomp my birds or beat them to death with a stick. I would have completely understood if they had decided to defend their chickens from my marauding hawks. I could not allow that to happen again. The last time I flew Summer I went to an area with good rabbit numbers, and no houses for miles. I put her up with the boys, who she seems to love and get along with, and after a few slips at rabbits, she simply flew off into the distance. I immediately headed back to the car, put the boys away, and began tracking her with telemetry. I found her a few minutes later sitting on a street lamp post over a parking lot with nothing but businesses and asphalt as far as the eye could see. As I stood there looking up at her and looking around at the area, it hit me: The area where we were standing looked a lot like the area where she grew up. She wants to be a city hawk, not a field hawk. How many times would I get away with this before she got hit by a car, caused a car accident, grabbed some person who had a baggie in their hand, grabbed a dog or cat, or some other horrible fate? I decided right then and there, that I did not want to risk her life, or risk disaster any more. I also didn't want her to further corrupt my perfect angelic little boys any further. She immediately called down to me from the lamp post, happy to get a tid bit, and I calmly carried her back to the car, bringing an uneventful end to her time flying with me. She's been hanging out in her large free loft mew next the the boys waiting for the next chapter of her life to begin.

The story will have a happy ending for her. She is going to a very experienced master falconer that is fully aware of her personality quirks, and can utilize her preferences for his business. She will fly again, but it will be in safe areas that will appeal to her preferences. I'm hoping to learn more about her and what to do from my friend that is acquiring her. His knowledge and experience far exceeds mine, and he's been a mentor to me since the beginning of my falconry journey, so I'm excited to learn from his experience with Summer.
Sounds like Summer would be happy on a ledge of a building, scoping out pigeons. Q
 

Tom

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Sounds like Summer would be happy on a ledge of a building, scoping out pigeons. Q
Yes, but pigeons are exceedingly difficult to catch, even for high flying falcons in a 200 MPH stoop. Pigeons are extremely fast, agile and strong fliers. A hawk would really have to catch one by surprise to get close enough to get a foot on it. Even falcons miss most of the time on pigeons.
 

Moozillion

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I keep meaning to do an update, but December is the busiest month in my business.

I've stopped flying Summer, and arrangements have been made for her to go to a new home with someone that will be able to utilize her skills and predilections. She got along great with the boys, but her upbringing and past is apparently a stronger pull on her than hunting with me and the boys. She was raised in a city environment where she flew around from building to building in an area where there were no rabbits. Every time I take her out in to one of my giant rabbit fields, she leaves and goes to an area with buildings instead. I've done all I can to encourage her to stay with me, and I've tried to fly her alone with lots of tid bits rewards and chances at rabbits, and also with the boys, hoping she'd want to stay with her group, but she repeatedly chose to go it alone in an area that looked more like her area where she grew up.

One consequence of this would be that sometimes the only buildings around were houses that lined the edges of the fields, or were visible from some distance away. Summer was originally flown at birds to keep seagulls and pigeons away, though she was never supposed to actually catch them. Part of the reason Summer came to me is because she really really wanted to catch them. Well houses have back yards, and back yards often have critters like small dogs, cats, and chickens. Summer taught herself to fly from roof top to roof top inspecting each back yard, looking for "prey". We had a very unpleasant day where I had to apologize profusely to a family for her killing two of their chickens right in front of them. Luckily, this family had watched me fly birds in the field across the street from their house for years, and this had never happened before, so they were as understanding and forgiving as they could be under the circumstances. I gave them some money for their loss, but that cannot replace their emotional attachment to their pet chickens, or compensate them for the trauma of witnessing that terrible scene. I felt as awful as I've ever felt that day. Also on that unfortunate day, I had all three of the birds up and we had a wonderful morning of hunting in the field. We were walking back to the car with a rabbit in the bag when summer went off on her chicken hunting foray, and the most unfortunate part is that the boys accompanied her. She taught my boys to go for backyard chickens. In one stroke, she just eliminated about half of the fields I used to hunt at because some of them have backyards with chickens near by. Fields that I've hunted for years, I can no longer go to. The boys ignored these chickens and only did what I'd taught them to do: hunt rabbits. None of the three hawks ever even so much as looked at my own chickens which live about 100 feet from their mews. They can see the chickens all day every day, and I fly them loose on the ranch several times a week where if they had any sort of desire to go for a chicken, they freely could, but none of them ever did, and neither did any of my previous redtail hawks. I did not see this coming. Most hawks are selective about what prey they go for. If they willy nilly grabbed anything that moved, they'd quickly be killed in one way or another, and we could never turn them loose within 10 miles of other people or pets. I did not see this coming at all.

It was just a question of time until Summer found a way to get herself or one of my boys killed because of her refusal to get with the program. We are just lucky that those people didn't have a dog, or that they didn't come out and stomp my birds or beat them to death with a stick. I would have completely understood if they had decided to defend their chickens from my marauding hawks. I could not allow that to happen again. The last time I flew Summer I went to an area with good rabbit numbers, and no houses for miles. I put her up with the boys, who she seems to love and get along with, and after a few slips at rabbits, she simply flew off into the distance. I immediately headed back to the car, put the boys away, and began tracking her with telemetry. I found her a few minutes later sitting on a street lamp post over a parking lot with nothing but businesses and asphalt as far as the eye could see. As I stood there looking up at her and looking around at the area, it hit me: The area where we were standing looked a lot like the area where she grew up. She wants to be a city hawk, not a field hawk. How many times would I get away with this before she got hit by a car, caused a car accident, grabbed some person who had a baggie in their hand, grabbed a dog or cat, or some other horrible fate? I decided right then and there, that I did not want to risk her life, or risk disaster any more. I also didn't want her to further corrupt my perfect angelic little boys any further. She immediately called down to me from the lamp post, happy to get a tid bit, and I calmly carried her back to the car, bringing an uneventful end to her time flying with me. She's been hanging out in her large free loft mew next the the boys waiting for the next chapter of her life to begin.

The story will have a happy ending for her. She is going to a very experienced master falconer that is fully aware of her personality quirks, and can utilize her preferences for his business. She will fly again, but it will be in safe areas that will appeal to her preferences. I'm hoping to learn more about her and what to do from my friend that is acquiring her. His knowledge and experience far exceeds mine, and he's been a mentor to me since the beginning of my falconry journey, so I'm excited to learn from his experience with Summer.
I'm speechless. An unexpected turn of events, for sure.
 

Big Ron

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Its taken a long time to jump through all the government hoops and other obstacles, but I am finally realizing my dream of becoming a licensed Falconer. I'm only just beginning my journey, after 20 years of dabbling, but here I go...

I will post lots of pics and keep this thread ongoing, and I invite all discussion about keeping wild animals, hunting, and of course the awesomeness of raptors in general. I find that many people (myself included) are ignorant of what is really going on, and how beneficial to the species falconry is. For example, the Peregrine Falcon was saved from extinction by falconers and falconry, in spite of the dismal failure on the part of government programs to save it. Falconry is VERY different than pet keeping, and it has great benefit for the birds involved who hatch wild and are eventually returned to the wild healthier and better skilled at hunting.

I am now a licensed Apprentice Falconer. I will spend a minimum of two full years as an apprentice working closely under the direct supervision of my sponsor who is a Master Falconer and has been for 10 years. After 2 years, if all goes well, and my sponsor is willing to sign off on my abilities, I will become a General Falconer and be allowed to "fly solo" so to speak.

Enough with the boring words: Here is "Toothless" at our first formal meeting.
View attachment 163624
I almost named him "Phoenix" after I saw this picture. Its kind of a big deal to not stare them in the face at close range at first, so I did not know he was looking at me like that. I'm sure if he could have shot fire from his mouth at me, he would have. My sponsor is not 100% sure if this one is male or female. You can usually tell by the weight. This is either a big boy or a small girl as the weight is right in the middle. We will get some behavioral clues as time passes, but we are leaning male at this point. Toothless is a "passage" (meaning this years baby, or worded another way, he hatched this last spring) red-tailed hawk. Buteo jamaicensis.


Here he is on the drive home:
View attachment 163626
The hood blocks all the visual stimulation and keeps them a lot calmer and safer during this stressful time. Understand that this 9 month old bird was flying wild minutes before this picture and has never had any previous human contact.

Here he is on his weathering perch on day one, while I prepared the scale for his first weighing and got his mew (hawk house) all ready for him.
View attachment 163628


Here we are on day 2 when the old finally came off. This is what I was greeted with.
View attachment 163629


We are now on day 5. He began taking food from me on day 2 and I "man" him (handle him on my glove) for several hours a day as part of the desensitization process. I weigh him at least once a day and I am even more fascinated that I imagined I would be. My sponsor assures me he will be free flying and hunting with me in a month or so.

Lots more pics to come. Please ask any questions you might have about falconry or raptors in general. I'm no expert yet, but I know a few things, and I know lots of guys that can answer any questions I don't know the answers to.
That is totally incredible after you get more experienced in you craft maybe you ban rum birds from a airport i here it pays very well,will be watching this very close thanks for sharing him/her with us ?
 

Big Ron

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Florida
I'm not an expert, but that long tail suggests a Cooper's Hawk to me. There are actually lots of species of raptors across the country. I'm just now starting to learn to ID all the ones here in the South West.

Pigeons are incredibly strong and agile flyers. Few birds of prey are going to actually catch a healthy pigeon in a chase. The falcon flyers that I work with here are in awe of the pigeon's flying prowess. I'm not surprised that the Peregrines have had no effect on the local pigeon population. No falconer would be, but hey, the government knows best, right? :)
I do believe it's a Coopers,we have a pair of them in my neighborhood they live in a huge pine tree a couple yards over,and what i think is a pair of Red tails,and one of the biggest great horned owls i have ever seen he sits on my yard light pole at night of course and dives down to grab toads that are drawn to bugs under the high pressure sodium light?
 

Tom

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I'm speechless. An unexpected turn of events, for sure.
There is more. Rick and Morty just couldn't be better. Anything that wasn't perfect about them in their first two seasons is getting perfect in this, their third season. As I walk along and watch their decisions and behavior, I just can't imagine how they could do or be any better. They are exactly what I want them to be, and usually do exactly what I want them to do. Its almost like they are trained...

We had a bit of an issue a couple of days ago. While trudging through heavy brush at one of our fields, Morty flew over to a large bush and indicated he saw prey in there. Rick and I joined him and I could hear the brush rustling. With a sudden explosion of gray fur, a large long haired CAT burst out of the bush and took off running for its life. Now we have hunted this field dozens of times and there are no residences anywhere near this area. Its a vacant lot in front of large hotel and next to the back side of a shopping center. I've never seen a cat anywhere near here, but there it was running away at top speed. It burst out so quickly that both birds went for it. There was nothing I could do to stop what was happening. The cat ran up a hill onto a higher plateau that I could not see with both birds in hot pursuit. I was sprinting after them praying as I went. I crested the hill at a full run and quickly saw one bird sitting atop a bush. I heard no screaming and no rustling, so I was terrified that the other bird might have it by the head. As I ran by, I saw that it was Morty sitting atop the bush wanting no part of whatever was going on, and after a moment of frantic searching, I found Rick all disheveled, feathers mussed up, standing looking bewildered behind a bush. The cat was nowhere to be seen. I went to Rick to look him over and the smell of cat **** was all over him. He'd lost some feathers on his chest, but appeared unharmed other than that. After examining him, I turned him loose and we headed back to the car. I didn't know where the cat went and I'd had enough excitement for one day.

Now here is where it is good to know people who know more than you yourself know. I am fortunate to be friends with several very experienced master falconers who have been doing this for decades, and also a board certified avian vet. I recall hearing and reading that cats are to be avoided, and you do NOT want your bird to tangle with one, as death is likely for your bird. As I drove home from the field a bit shaken up, but relieved that Rick seemed to have escaped serious harm, I decided to text a few of the aforementioned experienced friends to tell them what happen and see if they had any insight for me. They did. Four out of four friends all told me the same two things:
1. You're lucky your bird is still alive.
2. Put him on Clavamox right away whether you see any damage or not.
I didn't need any convincing at all. When I got off at my freeway exit, I went left to my local vet friend's office instead of right, to go home. I called ahead and told the receptionist at my local dog and cat vets office what dose I needed and how many. My vet friend there didn't even question it and had it ready for me upon arrival. My bird vet, who is about an hour away, wanted to see him too, but wouldn't be home until the evening.

Rick smelled horribly of tom cat pee, so my wife and I gave him a good warm water rinse off and followed that up with a thorough examination in the sunshine. We parted the feather and looked him over top to bottom, side to side. We weren't finding anything, but then my wife notice a small blood spot on the light colored towel that we were holding him in. It took some searching, but we found a small wound under the feathers of his wing.
IMG 5866

We sent pics to my avian vet friend, and he told us that it needed to be stitched up. We now had plans for after dinner! My friend is a brilliant surgeon. Watching him work is a joy. All he does is birds, reptiles and other exotics all day long, so he has all the right equipment and supplies ad knows exactly what to do and what to watch out for. We put the gas hood on Rick, did the stitches, and I held him while he woke up, all in the space of a few minutes.
IMG 5873

By this point Rick had already had his first dose of Clavamox, so he was good to go. The vet advised that I could fly him again in a couple of days, and begin hunting again in 5-7 days. He used stitches that will dissolve and go away on their own, so that is the end of it. Rick seems totally fine and he doesn't understand why we aren't going hunting daily like usual.

I did not know how serious any injury from a cat could be to a hawk. The slightest bite or scratch and the bird could be dead within 24-48 hours. This has happened to many a falconer who was ignorant as I was. I am so thankful to have such knowledgable friends. They literally saved my bird's life. Rick seemed fine to me, and I really didn't think much of it other than hoping that he learned a good lesson about not messing with feral cats. I knew that cats could physically kill a hawk, but I did not realize that infection was so likely to kill them later. I'm lucky that I did not have to learn this lesson the hard way, and I'm overjoyed that Rick and I will hunt together again in a few days.
 

Cathie G

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There is more. Rick and Morty just couldn't be better. Anything that wasn't perfect about them in their first two seasons is getting perfect in this, their third season. As I walk along and watch their decisions and behavior, I just can't imagine how they could do or be any better. They are exactly what I want them to be, and usually do exactly what I want them to do. Its almost like they are trained...

We had a bit of an issue a couple of days ago. While trudging through heavy brush at one of our fields, Morty flew over to a large bush and indicated he saw prey in there. Rick and I joined him and I could hear the brush rustling. With a sudden explosion of gray fur, a large long haired CAT burst out of the bush and took off running for its life. Now we have hunted this field dozens of times and there are no residences anywhere near this area. Its a vacant lot in front of large hotel and next to the back side of a shopping center. I've never seen a cat anywhere near here, but there it was running away at top speed. It burst out so quickly that both birds went for it. There was nothing I could do to stop what was happening. The cat ran up a hill onto a higher plateau that I could not see with both birds in hot pursuit. I was sprinting after them praying as I went. I crested the hill at a full run and quickly saw one bird sitting atop a bush. I heard no screaming and no rustling, so I was terrified that the other bird might have it by the head. As I ran by, I saw that it was Morty sitting atop the bush wanting no part of whatever was going on, and after a moment of frantic searching, I found Rick all disheveled, feathers mussed up, standing looking bewildered behind a bush. The cat was nowhere to be seen. I went to Rick to look him over and the smell of cat **** was all over him. He'd lost some feathers on his chest, but appeared unharmed other than that. After examining him, I turned him loose and we headed back to the car. I didn't know where the cat went and I'd had enough excitement for one day.

Now here is where it is good to know people who know more than you yourself know. I am fortunate to be friends with several very experienced master falconers who have been doing this for decades, and also a board certified avian vet. I recall hearing and reading that cats are to be avoided, and you do NOT want your bird to tangle with one, as death is likely for your bird. As I drove home from the field a bit shaken up, but relieved that Rick seemed to have escaped serious harm, I decided to text a few of the aforementioned experienced friends to tell them what happen and see if they had any insight for me. They did. Four out of four friends all told me the same two things:
1. You're lucky your bird is still alive.
2. Put him on Clavamox right away whether you see any damage or not.
I didn't need any convincing at all. When I got off at my freeway exit, I went left to my local vet friend's office instead of right, to go home. I called ahead and told the receptionist at my local dog and cat vets office what dose I needed and how many. My vet friend there didn't even question it and had it ready for me upon arrival. My bird vet, who is about an hour away, wanted to see him too, but wouldn't be home until the evening.

Rick smelled horribly of tom cat pee, so my wife and I gave him a good warm water rinse off and followed that up with a thorough examination in the sunshine. We parted the feather and looked him over top to bottom, side to side. We weren't finding anything, but then my wife notice a small blood spot on the light colored towel that we were holding him in. It took some searching, but we found a small wound under the feathers of his wing.
View attachment 338774

We sent pics to my avian vet friend, and he told us that it needed to be stitched up. We now had plans for after dinner! My friend is a brilliant surgeon. Watching him work is a joy. All he does is birds, reptiles and other exotics all day long, so he has all the right equipment and supplies ad knows exactly what to do and what to watch out for. We put the gas hood on Rick, did the stitches, and I held him while he woke up, all in the space of a few minutes.
View attachment 338776

By this point Rick had already had his first dose of Clavamox, so he was good to go. The vet advised that I could fly him again in a couple of days, and begin hunting again in 5-7 days. He used stitches that will dissolve and go away on their own, so that is the end of it. Rick seems totally fine and he doesn't understand why we aren't going hunting daily like usual.

I did not know how serious any injury from a cat could be to a hawk. The slightest bite or scratch and the bird could be dead within 24-48 hours. This has happened to many a falconer who was ignorant as I was. I am so thankful to have such knowledgable friends. They literally saved my bird's life. Rick seemed fine to me, and I really didn't think much of it other than hoping that he learned a good lesson about not messing with feral cats. I knew that cats could physically kill a hawk, but I did not realize that infection was so likely to kill them later. I'm lucky that I did not have to learn this lesson the hard way, and I'm overjoyed that Rick and I will hunt together again in a few days.
It's not just feral cats it's cats in general. I think it's from the bite that even people can become very sick from. It's called cat scratch fever in a human. I've known someone recently that went through it from their own pet cat.
 

Tom

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It's not just feral cats it's cats in general. I think it's from the bite that even people can become very sick from. It's called cat scratch fever in a human. I've known someone recently that went through it from their own pet cat.
The only thing worse than a cat bite is a human bite. I know people that have been hospitalized due to septicemia from cat bites. No fun. I just didn't know how bad it was for a bird of prey. The raptors seem to be immune to so many other things...
 
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