Thursday, January 14, 2010
OK . . . so I guess I need to re-define my idea of quarry. When you read the literature about falconry, you'll be advised to match your bird to the quarry that is available where you live. While cotton-tailed rabbits certainly are found in this area, albeit sometimes hard to find, and I trust that eventually we will catch one . . . . what we do have around here . . . are pack rats. I've found many nests, and I'm not sure if they all had a rat in them or not, but today I really worked a rat nest, and we popped out a rat. And I'm here to tell ya . . . . this is no small quarry!! These guys are good sized!! They are the size of an adult rat, but furry. I'd make the comparison to a smallish squirrel. (I just weighed what is left over, the back side of the rat and his head, and it is 235 grams . . . so all together is probably at least 350 to 400 grams . . . my bird is only 580 grams . . . so you see this is a big prey item for the hawk.) Cimarron chased it and caught it, and it squeaked . . . just like a bunny does when you catch them. I then assisted to quickly dispatch the quarry, secure the hawk, and allowed him a nice, warm meal to reward his efforts. He did still try to get away with the food, but I didn't let him, and eventually he settled down and stuffed himself. I'll spare my readers a view of what was left over . . . . it's not pretty . . . . but above is the bird post meal . . . bloody beak and all. I didn't let him eat the whole rat. He did a good job . . . . and I'd consider it to be true falconry. Back in Wisconsin, where I trained, we discourage our hawks from "mousing" . . . . but there is a big difference between a mouse, and these rats living in the bottom of cactus nests, which I've learned are called "middens". I'll have to work these middens a little harder, and perhaps we'll continue to have success catching rats.