Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May Day (the flower kind)

I'll come back soon and put some text to all these beautiful flowers we saw today.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Because it is Time

I've not posted for awhile, because I really didn't have much to post.  It is time to put something bright and cheerful at the top of my page.

Rich and I have made several visits to the Raptor Center, because Wyvern has had several visits as we treat, and eventually amputate her toe. Wednesday, 4/27/16 was that day. We brought her to the Center and left her, then went to visit the Como Conservatory to pass the time.

The indoor Sunken Garden was getting a re-fit on this day, but previously we've been there to catch the Spring Show.  Today, also, the Japanese Garden is coming to life, and some of the gardeners were out trimming the trees and cleaning up the fallen leaf debris.

They have a collection of Bonsai.  Several are in bloom.

Spring is arriving!  I always love this time of year . . . until the bugs wake up.

Wyvern did fine with her quick surgery. Thankfully, as of this writing, she is leaving her bandages alone.  It will be good to finish up, and get her feet all healed up.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


I've not written for awhile.  My heart has just not been in the whole effort to blog lately.  It is time now to write about this, and then move on.

My 2015/2016 hawking season came to a crashing halt at the beginning of February, first with a toe injury to Wyvern, and then the very unexpected and sudden death of Sassy.  I was back up at the Raptor Center this past week and received back all the gear she was wearing when I brought her to them, hoping they could figure out what was wrong.  She died shortly after I got her there.  They thought possibly heart failure, as the x-ray showed an enlarged heart, and she had profound hypoxia, gasping for air even once she was placed on high oxygen.  After her death, I requested they perform a necropsy, to hopefully determine a cause.  The results surprised both myself and her vet.

Brain, hemorrhage, acute, subdural, mild to moderate.

Comments: The subdural hemorrhage is suggestive of a blunt force trauma. However, it is unclear whether this lesion may have been the initial event or may have been a terminal event.

Somehow this fantastic bird, in the confines of her 10 x 10 mew, gathered enough speed and struck something hard enough to cause a brain bleed which resulted in her death.  It had to have been in her mew, as we had not been hunting the previous 10 days due to it being too cold for the hawks.  I had noticed, and I don't remember if it was the day of or the previous day, that the tip of her beak was broke off.  She struck something in her mew hard enough to crack off the tip, and sustained a bleed that killed her.

She has been a fantastic game hawk, and I'm going to miss her.

I am left now with Wyvern, who will need some more work, and Flint, who will need a lot of work.  I was so enjoying the cast of Sassy and Wyvern, and I was a little lazy, relying on Sassy's calm manner and commanding presence to keep Wyvern close and working on the team.  Wyvern is quite a lot more wild, so will need some manning for next season.  For now, both she and Flint have been fed up and are moody and difficult, and want nothing to do with me.  I've increased the hours of light in their mew to push the molt to get started.  We can't hunt, we might as well get the molt going.

As far as Wyvern's injury, she is still getting care for a squirrel bite to one of her feet, the left, which is healing nicely, but then something else to the right foot.  Her vet thinks it is frost bite, but I wonder at that because why would it have been only for one toe.  During the cold of January, the 10-day spell that confined my birds in their mew, and when sometime Sassy sustained her injury, we did have a power outage in the heating unit in the mew.  I noticed afterward this toe looking red and Wyvern favoring it in pain which is what alerted me that something was wrong.  There was also a nick on that toe, and it is possible the blood flow was compromised, and then the cold did the final damage.  Either way, she is going to lose this toe.  Hawks have very slow circulation in their feet, which is why an injury takes so long to heal.  We have been waiting and treating conservatively, with foot soaks and moisturizing cream on the foot, waiting to know exactly where the necrotic tissue begins.  Soon, I will make an appointment to have that amputated.  I could wait to see if it will fall off on its own, but I think I would like to have a clean and stitched wound.

She should have full use of that foot once it is healed.  I'm just going to need to focus her hunting efforts towards rabbits.  Strangely enough, this year she did not catch one.  She tried very hard, but Sassy always got there first.  However, she did show a great zeal for hunting squirrels.  I'm going to have to discourage that to prevent further toe injury.

For squirrels, I'm just going to need to get myself a big Red Tail next season.  That would also give me an option for hunting when the temperature is lower than 30.  I hope to get Wyvern and Flint working together next year as a cast.  I'll be tethering them out close to each other, and I have a new mew which just needs a little more work to be finished.  It is a two-chamber mew that will allow the birds to see each other up close, and get acquainted, but without being in the same chamber.  That's the plan anyway.

With hawking, you can experience the great highs when your birds fly well and catch game, and you can have the devastating lows when a bird's life is cut short, or you get a curveball with a bad injury.  It is all part of this sport I love.  You take the bad with the good, and hope through planning and work and training that there are more good days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


It is with profound sadness that I announce the death of Sassy, my captive-raised female Harris Hawk.  She would have been 8 in 2016.  She was one of the best falconry birds I have ever had, and she will be terribly missed.

I don't have details yet.  I was able to get her to the Raptor Center on Tuesday, but despite the efforts of some of the best raptor vets in the world, she died while they were trying to figure out what was wrong.  Possibly her heart.  It was not from injury, and I don't think disease, as she appeared fine on Monday.  As I know, I will share here.

With her death my 2015/2016 falconry season comes to a crashing halt.  Wyvern is also out right now with a toe injury, and I have been fussing and worried about her, only to be additionally distressed with Sassy's sudden illness and death.  The season was going to be over at the end of the month either way.

The painting above was made by my neice, Sarah, as a gift to me.  It now has an additional special meaning.

Sassy looks to the horizon.  Her horizon is now a setting sun.  She will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Working the Bunnies Together

Wyvern has been working pretty good with Sassy.  She has yet to catch a bunny all on her own, but she does work well in a team.  Many times she is wanting to take the natural role of the junior hawk, as they do in the wild, and is the one to get down into the brush and try to push the game out.  On the video below, the second part of this clip, you see a very good example of this.  She goes down into the brush and flushes the bunny out.

The first part of the video does have a bunny crying for quite awhile, as in the video I'm figuring out how to get to the both of them.  It was a pretty big brush pile we had been working, and I had to walk around it.  I thought about splicing some music over it, but decided to just go with the footage I have. After all, this is a falconry blog.  Mostly anyone who is coming here knows this, and knows that falconry is hunting.  As soon as I can get to my birds I dispatch the bunny so it doesn't suffer.

After the second bunny catch on the video above I let both of the birds crop up.  Rich was with me and helped me get back to the car after the hunt.  When I'm by myself, if I let them crop up in the field, I have to walk out holding both of them, which can be a little tricky, especially if the snow is deep.  If we were not successful, I head back to the car, and both birds meet me there, and get their portion of food at that time.  Sometimes, when I'm not finding game, they give up and go to the car, as if to say: "We're done, Let's eat, Let's go Home!"

This was the last hunt we have been able to have recently.  Either it's been very cold weather, or my work that has gotten in the way of hawking.  For the next week, it's definitely the cold weather.  The thermometer is not going to get much above 10 degrees, and we need mid to high 20s to even consider going out with these desert birds.

Next year, I need to make sure I have a Red Tail for the team!  Not to fly WITH the Harris Hawks, but to fly as an alternative, as a RT can handle much colder temperatures.  This year, I just didn't have the mew space.  My new mew will be finished up this summer, so I will have the chamber space for one.  I looked longingly at lots of juvie hawks, and knew where several were in case I wanted to trap one, but you have to have someplace for the bird to stay, and my chamber is just not ready to be occupied.

Next year!