Archive for the Falconry Category

General

Posted in Falconry on December 21, 2012 by ABS

Elia is progressing in leaps and bounds. We try and hunt at least four times a week. I work a 4PM to 2AM shift and ussually get to bed around 3AM. Which means I am up by 10AM and we are hunting by 11AM till around 1PM then it is time to get ready for work again. On days we don’t hunt we do bunches of jump downs and lure strikes to keep her in shape. Alot of my friends thought being a falconer would be cool and fun until they saw what all is entailed. I have to admit though I enjoy it and couldn’t see not having a bird to work with everyday.

Well as of 12/6/2012, I have been an apprentice falconer for two years now. Megan in Austin says all I need is an application for my General and a letter from my sponsor and pay the application fee. I am actually not in a hurry to do it. To me General is just a title and no reflection on what I am. I know for a fact 10 years from now all I will be is a 10 year apprentice. I learn so much from speaking to other falconers online and over the phone and of course the birds I fly teach me something everyday. After three birds showing me everyday what was wrong with the interior of my mews and the tethering system I use, I think I finally have it right. Elia took to the mews with no issues and no injuries.

I tend to keep my birds tethered during hunting season because they all seem figity and jumpy. During the summer molt I free loft with no issues.

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Hunting

Posted in Falconry on December 20, 2012 by ABS

I am keeping her at 680 grams for hunting which means everyday I feed her up to approximately 730 grams and the next day around hunting time she is 680 grams. She is burning roughly 2 grams of weight an hour except that changes a bit when temperatures drop. So I make sure to increase her weight by 5 to 10 grams on colder nights but I am in Laredo so that happens rarely.

She is riding the t-perch alot more now and using it often which makes me happy. You can instantly tell when she is hunting and not focused on me. We had a few begging issues with her landing on the ground near me when I wouldn’t offer the t-perch or my fist. All I do is keep walking off ussually that is enough to get her back up and following or flying ahead. She stooped at a rabbit today and we tried to corner it in some brush to flush it for her. Somehow it got by us….darn. Just a matter of time now.

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Elia

Posted in Falconry on December 20, 2012 by ABS

Well on October 13, 2012 we trapped an 832 gram female juvenile Harris Hawk on Hwy 16 near FM 659 coming out of Zapata heading towards Hebbronville. I think there must be about 12 or so family groups of Harris Hawks in this immediate area. She hit the trap very hog fat and aggressive. Usually on all birds I can detect a bit of a keel, I swear this bird had no keel it felt as hard as an apple. We sprayed her down with mite spray and jessed her up and I got bitten on the finger pretty good for my troubles.

When we got home I logged on and completed the take form. I contacted Megan in Austin and she told me that record numbers of Harris Hawks were being trapped by falconers down in my area. I really was praying for a 900 gram plus bird but I decided to keep this one. While manning the bird she would bate and act stupid like the other redtails I had trained but she was very grippy. She would crank down on the glove relentlessly. Since she was so mean I named her, Elia, after my mother-in-law. We use the waking technique and held her on the fist for almost a straight 22 hours. I know a lot of people don’t do that but we do and we exposed her immediately to the dogs, cats and sights and sounds of being in a house immediately. It took her dropping to 740 grams and almost six days for her to decide to finally jump to the fist. After that things progressed pretty normally except she always acted aggressive at the beginning of every training session. She would spread her wings aggressively; try and wing slap me and/or kick at me. Which the redtails I had trained usually stopped that after the first week. She was just plain mean.

At 740 grams, on the creance she would take her time responding to the fist and one out of every four flights was away from me instead of to the fist. So I slowly brought her weight down and at 690 grams all of that cleared up. She was acting responsive and striking the lure both on the ground and in the air. When just sitting the fist she stopped bating and her aggressive display at the beginning of training sessions stopped.

I didn’t get to start hunting her till November 16th due to work. I had to go out of town on a detail for seven days though I did take her with me and we did jump downs, creance flying and lure training to keep her strong. At 690 I went hunting with my sponsor and his bird and at 690 she hung back and used the t-perch rarely and was non-responsive to the fist. Though my bird and his did go after his ducks thank god for the netting over the pens he keeps his ducks in. He told me to cut back on her weight slowly, hunt her more and do hundreds of jump downs to the fist and t-perch.

Well at 680 grams she seems to have turned into a different bird. Now in the brush she is beginning to stay close to me and is starting to work out ahead of me in the direction I am going. Her response to the fist in the brush is 100% better and she is using the t-perch a lot. I am really happy with her progress. We have had a few nice chases and stoops and I believe she will close the deal soon.

Elia

Elia

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Aiel’s Summer 2012

Posted in Falconry on December 19, 2012 by ABS

Sorry it has been so long since I posted, life has gotten in the way and my digital camera crapped out on me. Well Aiel turned out to be a beautiful bird. It was almost the 20th of February when I finally flew her free for the first time. We hunted for about three weeks and she was very stubborn in the brush. She would take a high perch and rarely follow on. Her response to the fist in the brush was almost non-existent. Thankfully she responded to the lure very well so that is how I hunted her. She took to the hood well which is always a blessing. I am beginning to believe maybe since I trapped her so late in the season that may be a reason she was so hard headed to train.

During the summer I did jump downs with her and flew her on the creance but she didn’t start dropping feathers till late August. I spoke to another falconer here in Texas. He gave me the advice of leave her alone in the weathering yard and feed her till she starts refusing food. We fed her so much she was leaving little rat fur skin jackets and refusing food. After a week of that she would fly away from you when you went to go pick her up then bam feathers started dropping everywhere. She grew in a beautiful red train. In September we coped her beak and cleaned it all up so it looked nice. Then in October we fed her up fat and released her near where we caught her at 1340 grams on October 11th, 2012. I wish I would have had a digital camera to document her tail feathers coming in.

My Sponsor gave me the okay to trap a female Harris Hawk and over the next two days we tossed traps at Harris Hawks from Laredo to Hebbronville to Zapata. We trapped four tiny juvenile males and one large female but she had a broken left tarsus that had healed crooked and amazingly she was surviving and successfully hunting that way. I let her go because I really wanted a good juvenile female.

Small Female or Large Male?

Posted in Falconry on January 19, 2012 by ABS

Well on the 17th we released Kain. We usually fly him around 740 grams so we fed him up till he was holding 980 grams of weight over a couple of days. We cut his band of and mailed it back to Austin and released him in exactly the same place we caught him in Alice, Texas. We went back to Alice on the 18th and trapped again. Almost immediately after getting there we trapped a 1112 gram immature Red-tail.

Due to the weight I am unsure if this is a male or a female. This bird wasn’t sharp at all which I find kind of weird considering she was missing four tail feathers, two of which were the deck feathers. She was covered in feather mites as well but other than that looked to be a healthy successful hunter. I was going to release him/her to trap for a more feather perfect bird. BUT…. my daughter was like no dad this bird needs our help. I explained to her that I had never imped a bird’s tail feathers before to which she said no time like the present. Well damn…my daughter always wins. So we placed him/her which my daughter has no named “Aiel” in the giant hood and headed home.

As far as initial manning this bird didn’t dead bate but one time. She would rather be on the fist then hanging. Even with the hood on she sat the fist well not falling over or loosing balance. I am hoping these are all good signs. Well we picked up some bamboo skewers and 5 minute two part epoxy to imp Aiel’s tail back together.

As you can see above I had some molted feathers from my last bird though I did notice my last birds feather were a bit smaller than this ones. I completed the imping anyway I figured some feathers are better than none. By the way I researched imping feathers on NAFEX and frootdog has an awesome post there to walk you through this. I also watched quite a few videos on rehabbers/veternarians imping various birds on YouTube.

Here we go a brand new set of brakes all done. For my fist imp job I am pretty happy. I enjoyed doing it alot. I am going to have to steam one of the feathers to straighten it out more. On the 19th “Aiel” was taking tidbits and bending down a little bit. So things are progressing quite well.

Trapping Again.

Posted in Falconry on January 17, 2012 by ABS

Well as stated before I haven’t been able to get out much during the Holiday season but on Wednesday, 12/28/2011, Kain and I took off for the field for a quick hunt. On that hunt he was again at 740 grams with gear. He followed a little better but I noticed he hangs back until I am almost out of sight of him before he decides to fly over and keep his walking refrigerator in sight. 

We practiced following quite a bit. I would get to a decent size Mesquite Tree and call him to the fist and once he got close I walked under the tree and he had to perch on it. Then I would walk to the next tree and call him down for a small finger nail size tidbit. He did stoop once but I wasn’t able to see what he was going after. We ended the hunt after an hour and a half with a nice lure chase for the remainder of his daily meal. 

About two weeks after I trapped him he started this incessant screaming/chirping which is quite annoying. The only time he doesn’t do it is when he is on his perch in the weathering yard, in the Giant Hood or hunting. Well on January 5, 2012, My Sponsor came over to check him out. He said Kain is begging and he believes that when I trapped him back in October he hadn’t been out of the nest long. My Sponsor suggested feeding him up heavy and cutting him loose so I can go trap a big female that has been successfully hunting these past few months. So since then I have been feeding him up to release. 

This news kind of hurt us because we had paid for going to the Texas Hawking Event in Abilene,Texas to finally meet some Texas Falconers. We even reserved the rooms at the hotel and my wife was kind of looking forward to meeting some of the other falconer’s wives. We decided not to go and to use the four days to go out trapping to find another Red-tail. My wife is really pissed. If I catch another immature it will be a tight run to hunt, because it will take me about 20 days to train and get him/her hunting with me. That puts me hunting sometime around mid to late February and here hunting with a Red-tail tends to end mid-March which is when the urge to migrate I believe kicks in. Wish me luck.

Once I finish my apprenticeship and get my general I of course will fly a Harris Hawk down here. With no large trees and no squirrels it make hunting a red-tail down here difficult at best. My Sponsor believes that flying a red-tail as an apprentice down here is super difficult and a little dis-heartening but you appreciate the successes even more. He believes that if an apprentice is willing to stick out the whole two years down here with a red-tail that they earn the right to fly a Harris. Which down here is the king of the brush. But I have to admit I think the red-tail is a much prettier bird.

December Hunting in Laredo

Posted in Falconry on January 17, 2012 by ABS

Well December was very rainy here in Laredo,Texas. We only got out hunting maybe 10 times. We definitely need to find a larger parcel to hunt on with higher mesquite trees so Kain can get more work on following. Kain managed to kill a Cotton Rat and has chased a few rabbits that he wasn’t able to catch. Now that the New Year is here we will get out a lot more. We make a routine of doing jump-ups to the t-perch every other day to keep him in shape.

 My upcoming projects are a table loop perch for him, a homemade Igloodor (humidor) for my cigars, making a small pigeon loft (12 birds) for the back yard and attaching an open weathering yard to the mews outside. We are hopng to trap a bunch of feral pigeons and just leave them in the loft to breed. Once we have babies and they are ready to fly we will transfer the breeding ferals to another pen and start the loft flying training with the babies. This is an experiment so wish us luck. Having a ready supply of pigeons for gun dog training and falconry training will help immensely. If the small system works we may build a bigger loft. My wife goes nuts with me spending money on all my side projects but hey I am a swamp-a-billy and I love building stuff and trying it out.

We bought tickets to the Texas Hawking Association’s event coming up January 14, 15 and 16th and reserved a room at the hotel in Abilene. I already got the days off to go. My wife is really looking forward to it.

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