Thursday, January 20, 2011

Finally . . . Bunny #2 . . . with some help

It was a cold day that found us at the Houston Nature Center, on our way to Winona for a few errands.  I stopped in to see Karla, and check out what's been going on with her owls.  You can find her link below here on my blog links.  She has an education owl, Alice, who normally comes to work with her and sits staring out the window most days.  I was informed that Alice is on maternity leave.  She has laid her egg . . . infertile . . . but she doesn't know that, and will sit on it nonetheless for the required incubation time.  Karla is also conducting a breeding project and owl vocalization study.  Her link will also bring you to a webcam, where you can peek in on Rusty and Iris, a pair of non-releasable great horned owls.  Rusty is doing his best to woo Iris . . . . Iris is not yet so sure she wants to be wooed. Everyone associated with the project hopes they will be successful and breed.
The day promised to get only much more colder, so we decided to fly Bailey at the marsh after the bunnies that the snow told us were there.  I didn't intend to work too hard, but my bird needed to be flown and fed, and it was a good place to do it.

We began to work the marsh, and after a short time, Rich indicated that he had seen a rabbit run.  Bailey had also flown briefly over the marsh, hovering, looking, looking . . . so he too saw something as well, but he didn't stay there, but went back to his tree perch.  I worked my way over to where Rich was, and bumped the bunny, which left the marsh we were in, ran over the rise, and into the next frozen pond and brush . . . with a hawk on it's tail.  Bailey wasn't too close behind, so bunny made it to the brush and cover.

We followed.  As we made it to the marsh and began working the edge, Rich pointed and indicated he could see the bunny.  I walked over, and sure enough, it was hiding in a bunch of cattails.  We both got ready . . . I poked, bunny ran, and then Rich whomped it with his stick, which slowed bunny considerably, and then I grabbed it.  All this time Bailey just sat in his tree and watched the action.  I had to waggle the bunny at him before he realized we had lunch.  This is NOT how falconry is supposed to work!!
Every hawk is an individual.  I'm not greatly impressed with my current bird.  He is guaranteed to get his freedom when the season ends at the beginning of March.  I'll feed him up for a few weeks to give him a fat reserve, but he will return to the wild to hunt mice to his heart's content.  Justin informs me that he has passed his falconry exam.  This summer he'll get his equipment together.  I'm going to build a bow net trapping setup.  This next fall I hope to be able to trap multiple birds, and pick a large female for next season.  I'm also slowly making contacts and securing locations to hunt.  Many are farm yards, but still have bunnies.  Hopefully, next year will be a better season.

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