Archive for the Falconry Category

New Band is Here.

Posted in Falconry on November 12, 2011 by Abner

Well the new Government Band finally arrived and this time I put it on him very loose. He may pull at it but it shouldn’t irritate his tarsus or cause scale damage. We placed it on and it seems like it doesn’t bother him, we will keep a close eye on him and see.

Texas State Law doesn’t require you to band a Red-tail Hawk but my Sponsor does require me to have my bird banded. You can always contact the State and request a band for your bird. You never know when your bird may get away from you and it requires you to re-trap him. As long as there is a band on him it doesn’t count as your second wild take bird for the year. So it is a good habit to always band your bird. Some birds in Texas like the Harris Hawk is required to have a band by law.

Practice Hunt #3

Posted in Falconry on November 12, 2011 by Abner

Well today my daughter was out of school so we weighted Kain at 10:18 AM at 749 grams and we took off for a practice/training hunt. The Mesquite trees here aren’t very high so there isn’t a lot of high perching opportunities for Kain. So when we get in the brush carrying him on the fist he usually takes off for a high telephone pole about 500 meters away to watch us. We started beating brush and heading his direction when bam, he folded up and made a beautiful stoop into the brush. We ran over to where he was and he was hopping around on the ground pulling at brush. We beat the brush all around him trying to flush whatever he was intently trying to find. I am pretty sure it was a Cottonrat but after a couple of minutes he got bored and took off for the telephone pole again. A couple of times he did fly toward and over us and glided around us and I would call him down to reward that behavior.

For the next 3 hours we walked around in the brush and often got out of eyesight of him and he would move further off to another telephone pole to get at a good angle to watch us. Every 10 or 15 minutes my daughter or I would call him to us for a small tidbit and perch him on a Mesquite branch near us and beat the brush around him. After a few minutes he would fly all the way back to the telephone pole to watch us again. I was hoping a rabbit or rat would flush out under him while flying to us but no luck. We called him to the lure three times for some nice feedings to which he has no hesitation. When calling him to the fist he hesitates a little bit but finally comes. I am thinking the reason for the hesitation is more the wind conditions then his not responding. As you can see I am lowering his weight a bit to see if that is the issue. His weight at 12:56 PM, end of practice hunt, was 783 g and his total food ration was 51 grams for the day.

Our next time out we will call him to the fist once and practice calling him in near a high tree and turn to make him perch there then walk ahead do it again then reward as Gary Brewer’s book suggests for teaching them to fly ahead. No more calling to the fist except to reward proper behavior. All in all I am really happy the stoop was really awesome to see. If we get no kills in the next 4 days I will serve him up a baggy in a mock hunt and see how that works out.

Kains gram to hour burn rate is right at 2 grams so 48 grams burned in 24 hours. For the 22 Hour Weight Control that means I should not be feeding him more then 46 grams. We are going to keep his hunt/fly weight at right around 740 to 750 grams. We took some photos of him hunting and som scat sign of rabbits in the area.

Hunting Areas in Laredo

Posted in Falconry on November 10, 2011 by Abner

Hunting down in Laredo, Texas is big business, the leases down here go anywhere from $3,000.00 on up to over $10,000.00 a year. I am a hunting misnomer in that I almost never gun hunt. The only exception is dove and quail which I do so infrequently it isn’t worth getting a lease for. As far as falconry, I can hunt my Sponsor’s place which is about 70 acres about 40 minutes away, my buddies 190 acre spread which is about an hour away or another 300 acre place which is also over an hour away. That is great I do have somewhere to hunt on my weekends. Now I like hunting my bird three times a week minimum. So I have been looking for small brushy acreage close to home that are to small for gun hunters.

There are two industrial parks between my house and my job with plenty of wooded brushy lots in between them. I am going to go hit up the owners and managers of those places my next days off because if I can get permission to chase rabbits and rats in there I am set. So wish me luck. For now my third day work week hunt is basicly a quick 1 or 2 hour jaunt through a small 7 acre brushy lot letting the bird fly and practice following and flying ahead. We end the day with either a nice lure chase or if I get lucky and the feed stores have rabbits we will do a baggie.

We do head up to Granger Lake and other Annual Public Hunting areas that allow falconry quite often on my days off. Wearing orange sucks and I am always afraid a gun hunter will take a pot shot at my bird.

First Free Flight

Posted in Falconry on November 10, 2011 by Abner

Well today it was not overcast nor was it to windy. Kain weighed in at 755 grams so minus the anklets and bells a nice 732 grams. I took Kain out to the backside of our subdivision and free flew him in the large unimproved brush lots out there. At first when he took off you could tell he was surprised as he took off about 400 meters to the roof of a nearby house. I walked off into the brush and called him to the fist for a tidbit. No hesitation at all responding until a little wind hit him so he got some soar time in coming to me but he responded well. I held him up high as I walked through the brush. I was kicking brush piles and grass thickets hoping for a Cottonrat but no luck, soon Kain took off again this time to a telephone pole. I let him sit there a bit as I walked around beating the brush. I guess he got impatient and he flew over to soar above me in a tight circle.

I kept walking and beating brush as he took off for another telephone pole I called him and gave him a tidbit. Once again I held him up high and began beating brush. He took off to perch on another telephone pole. This time I walked away from him working the brush, once I was out of sight I could hear his bells as he flew by me and perched about 20 yards in front of me watching me, his refrigerator, for any offer of food. I walked by him being careful not to look at him and keeping my arms down to my side. I continued on working the brush. Once I got out of eyesight a second time I could hear him coming again. After he passed me by, I called him to the fist for another tidbit. He made a fast u-turn in the air and came to the fist. We played this follow/fly ahead game for about 30 minutes then I called him into the lure. No hesitation coming to the lure at all and he hit it like a freight train. I practiced making into him on the lure. After he finished with his lure he looked at me with this condescending expression like, “What are you doing on your knees? The food is all gone, I ate it?” Then he flew up and perched on my shoulder.

So off we went again. I called him to the fist four more times and finished the day with a lure airstrike with the remainder of his meal. His total feeding today was only 43 grams and he weighed a nice 788 grams in the end, 765 grams minus the anklets and bells.  Man am I glad it went smooth because for me the first free flight day is the SCARIEST and he has responded well on the creance all the way up to 815 grams. I only dropped his weight to get him more responsive to the lure and it worked like a charm.

Hunting Jesses

Posted in Falconry on November 10, 2011 by Abner

I often notice many falconry raptors photographed on a kill or being flown free posted on the internet and for me the first thing I look at is the jesses on the birds tarsus. Often I see the bird is wearing mews jesses with a nice 1 inch slit in the end to accommodate the swivel. Please be aware I am in no way saying how people should fly their birds or what they should do I am only speaking about how I fly my bird. As an apprentice I am not the be all or know all of falconry but merely a student. Many are staunch advocates of telemetry but my Sponsor don’t use it and never will. He is all about the bells and so am I. However; I am a big advocate of the Hunting/Field Jesses granted the ones I have the hole in the tip is a bit big to accommodate the small snap I use but in my defense I have ordered a Sampo Coastlock swivel and am making new ones with even a smaller hole.

The danger in using mews jesses when hunting are simple a 1 inch slit means the bird can get hung up on a branch, thorn or anything and if you are not able to get to him he will die in short order especially in this Laredo, Texas heat. Even Hunting Jesses with a small hole have a danger of getting caught on a small branch or thorn but I think anything that small will probably break from the birds bating but even a barbwire prong could hang your bird up. I have attached pics of my Hunting Jesses which are 7″ long and should probably be shorter. They stay on my Hunting Jacket with my Variable Predator Call along with the small clip I use for them. It only takes a few seconds to switch from the mews ones to the hunting ones. Also I attached a link from a video on youtube showing what can happen when hunting with mews jesses.

 

Definently a sad thing to see. I am pretty sure this is an escaped bird and not one being hunted with.

Training Problems and my Fix

Posted in Falconry on November 8, 2011 by Abner

Well we have been flying my Red-tail on the creance, to way over 100′,  for the last two weeks at around 800 grams and he responds pretty quickly to the call and whistle. I intoduced the lure and he didn’t have a clue what it was of course. I teased him with the meat tied on it and he hopped down to pick the meat off the lure. He showed no aggression on the lure at all. When I tossed it out a few more times he would just fly down beside it and walk up to pick the meat off the lure. When I pulled it away a little bit he would just follow it slowly picking at the meat.

Well to fix this I began lowering his weight slowly over about four days. Once he was at 748 grams it was like a light switched on. Now he flies directly to the lure, grabs, foots it a few times and tears meat off it. Afterwards he remains on the lure footing and squeezing it. Once he steps off the lure and looks to me I call him to the fist, perch him and re-meat the lure. He is even doing air strikes where I toss the lure up and he grabs it in the air and carries it to the ground. Free fly day was going to be last Sunday but it was way to windy. So more lure training.

Above is a picture of him air striking the lure. I ussually never fly him on pavement to much chance of dulling down his talons but it was so windy we had to fly between the houses that day and we never miss even one day of training.

He has gotten so use to me on the lure that I can tidbit him from any direction when he is on his lure and even walk around and step over him. He is doing great.

Federal Bird Band: Lesson learned.

Posted in Falconry on October 26, 2011 by Abner

Well I called Megan at TPWD and she sent me a Federal Band for my new bird that we named “Kain”. Actually my daughter named him Kain she is the namer of all animal things in our house. I measured Kain’s tarsus and cut the tubing to the right size and zip tied it on. It can turn an the tarsus and seemed loose enough but Kain doesn’t like it. He picks at it and spins it every chance he can and now he has a small pink mark on a leg scale. I am going to call Megan and see if she can issue me a new band. The next one I will put on alot looser. So lesson learned put them on loose so it wont rub on the tarsus when the bird pics on it.

Tail Saver Perch

Posted in Falconry on October 26, 2011 by Abner

I hear alot of good thing about the Meng Type tail saver perch. I have a floor perch but because of the way it is made I never leave my bird on it unattended for safety reasons. I went out and bought some 1/4″ and a 1/2″ round cold roll bar. I took them along with a picture to a local welder. I explained what I wanted and he made me a nice meng perch for my bird. I will be wrapping it tonight. It is 26″ at the base and 18″ high.

I really like this set up and it is probably the safest perch I have used. Kain’s leash is just short enough that it can’t wrap completely around the perch in any direction. Also I feel the shorter leash and tying him high will protect him from any leg injuries while bating. He sure looks happy in my weed choaked rock infested sun scorched backyard.

An Indoor Perch

Posted in Falconry on October 26, 2011 by Abner

Well the wife aint happy but she is letting me use our spare bedroom to house the bird in. We have a mews outside but I want to make some changes to it like adding a misting system and an evacuation air fan to keep it cooler inside it. Here in Laredo, Texas the heat can climb up to 110 plus degrees. In the spare bedroom we layed down some foam board and covered it in plastic tarp over that we put a 9′ X 12′ short pile grass mat. We lined the walls with 4′ x 12′ choroplast to keep the mutes contained. We are building a wooden perch that will fit in the corner with 50lbs of weight in the bottom of it so the bird can’t pull it and/or knock it over. We made it out of heavy 3/4 inch plywood.

We are going to wrap the perch area with sissal rope on the sides with grass mat in the center so the bird will have two different perching surfaces to use. We also have a heavy piece of mesquite cut as a perch he can get to which we call his feeding stump.

Well we finally finished the indoor perch. I wrapped it with sissal rope very tightly and put grass carpeting on as well so the bird has a choice of perching surfaces. I got a bunch of blisters from wrapping the rops so tightly. With the short leash and this system it seems pretty safe as well. Only thing is now I would rather make a Table Loop Perch for the bedroom. My wife is pissed because that will be my next project LOL.

 

My new hunting partner

Posted in Falconry on October 3, 2011 by Abner

On Saturday, 10/01/2011 we finally started seeing some immature Redtails & Kestrels around Alice, Texas off of Hwy 59/Hwy44. Surprisingly we only saw a few Whitetailed Hawks usually we see bunches of them down here. We stayed on the Farm Roads around Alice and Robstown. Then in Corpus Christi we saw more immature Redtails so I guess they migrate faster down the coast. At 8:39 AM we trapped a 809 gram immature Redtail Hawk in Jim Wells County off of FM1539.

 When I first saw him, he was up in a tree overlooking a fallow crop field. I walked out into the field and spooked him. He flew approximately a half mile to a telephone pole. We drove by and tossed our faithful gerbil “Lili” out to do the redtail dance in the Bal Chatri about 50 meters from him on the side of the road. We drove about 4 telephone pole lengths away to watch. The bird slammed the trap pretty quickly but got spooked by a passing car and flew up across the road into a tree. The bird was watching the trap like a demon possessed. My wife was laughing at me because I was praying and tossing salt and practicing all manner of voodoo to get the bird to hit the trap. A few minutes later he slammed the trap again and I thought he was caught so I told my wife “Go, Go, Go!” We got up beside the trap and he spooked up to the telephone pole to glare at us. So we drove on by. 

After about ten minutes he flew back down beside the trap and we watched through binoculars. He would jump on the trap and foot it then jump off. We saw him flapping his wings and again I told my wife I think he is caught. My wife was like no just wait. Then the bird flew up about 5’ in the air dragging the trap with him. He flew across the road dragging the trap finally it brought him down. 

He weighed 809 grams off the trap and his keel is very sharp. He is feather perfect with no squirrel bites on his feet. The tips of his deck feathers are a little ragged but that is to be expected down here. We sprayed him down with Bird Mite Spray and within a few minutes several feather mites came up to the top of his feathers below his beak. The male redtail hood I have is not small enough to fit his head properly but it will work for now. I called Mikes Falconry and he is sending me a new hood.

 

 

This was a large female we trapped prior to the male. We jessed her up and we were going to keep her but a few minutes later we saw the small male out in the field. We released this female which was very heavy and super fat. I had a small female last year and really wanted a smalle male this year to try something different.

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter and I manned this bird for 23 hours also known as “Waking”. I have to admit he would not tuck his wings at all and always stayed a little fluffed up in an aggressive stance. The next day we manned him for 8 hours and the following day another 6 hours. He finally started tucking his wings up and slicking back. He roused on my daughters hand finally. We are big on hydrating our birds and try to teach them to not be afraid of a squirt bottle which he picked up on quickly.

 

As you can see he manned down quite nicely. He hates the hood and will bate like crazy but after a few attempts he will sit quietly with it on. He was taking tidbits off the glove by the end of day one. We scooped up his mutes and placed it in a plastic zip lock bag and examined them. You could see what I am thinking is round worm and tape worm segments inside the fecal part of the mute. We gave him Wormout and Apertex and it seems to have cleaned them out pretty well.

 By the end of day two he was bending down to tear meat on the glove but he took his time doing it. On day four he jumped to the glove and on day five we had him flying 30 feet inside the house to the glove using a variable predator call whistle. On day six we had him outside on the creance. He is coming along super fast.

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