Wednesday, March 20, 2013

To All the Girls (and Guys) I've Loved Before

I've had reason here recently to review through some of my archived digital pictures.  I decided I would post pictures of all the raptors I have had the pleasure to work with.  I will try to select the best picture I can find with each bird.

My first hawk was a passage male red tail.  I named him Scimitar.  After my first falconry season I returned him to the wild.  The picture below was taken on the day I released him.

I also found this picure with him and one of the bunnies we caught.  My early pictures are pretty sketchy . . . . only got a digital camera after I became a General Falconer.

My second hawk was a fiery passage female red tail.  I named her Penthesilea, or Pente for short.  She is named after an Amazon Queen.  I kept her for two seasons, then lost her to asper.

My third raptor was a male American Kestrel.  I suspect he was a full adult when I trapped him.  He was my first bird trapped after I had been advanced to a General.  For about a year I had both him and Pente.  I named him Rigel.  After a year with me I returned him to the wild.

My third red tail was a late-trapped passage female red tail who was caught in Normal, IL, to replace Pente.  I named her Abby, for she was Abby from Normal . . . and she remains the most abynormal hawk I have had.  Because she was late trapped, she was terribly stubborn and difficult to train.  After a single season I released her.

My fourth red tail was a lovely bird whose time with me was painfully short.  I named her Sienna, for she was a lovely burnt sienna color.  She was electrocuted on her first free flight when she landed on a transformer.  Her death just about broke my heart . . . as her loss occurred during a very difficult time in my life.

My fifth red tail was a passage female who was gifted to me from a falconer who wished to remain anonymous.  I named her Nina, and I would go on to keep her for three seasons.  She moved with me when I relocated to La Crosse, and if it hadn't been for my needing to concentrate on my school during 2008 / 2009 I just may have kept her.  However, she really wanted her freedom, so I returned her to the wild.

Here is a nice, high-resolution, close-up of her.

The picture below was taken on the day I let her go.

I took a year off from falconry to concentrate on my education, then took a job down in Abilene, Texas.  While there I transferred my falconry license, and was fortunate enough to trap a passage Harris Hawk in Corpus Christi.  I would name him Cimmaron.  I kept him for the season, then returned him to where I trapped him when I was going to move back to Minnesota.  It was just easier to not try to move with a hawk.  Many times I wish I had kept him. 

 Upon my return to the Upper Midwest, and at the appropriate time, I trapped my sixth red tail.  He was a passage male red tail that I would name Bailey.  After a year I returned Bailey to the wild.  He was a nice bird, but all he wanted to catch were mice.

(The picture below was taken by my friend Foxfeather, and posted previously by permission.)

My seventh and current red tail is Hit Girl.  She's been a very nice game hawk and I've had a really good couple seasons with her, however I have decided I will release her in the spring.

I need to make sure to get a nice picture of myself and Hit Girl, a non-hunting picture, before I let her go.

The last hawk that has come to live with me is Sassy.  She is a delight, and I have absolutely no intention of getting rid of her.  She's a sweetheart, when she is at hunting weight.

(The picture above was taken by Barbara O'Brien, and posted to my blog by previous permission.)

My hopes and plans are to trap a wild passage Harris Hawk and form a cast (that is, 2 birds that fly together ~ for you non falconry folks) for the next falconry season.  I will also be out trapping another red tail to train Greg how to trap and train a game hawk.

"CC" Cha Ching

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Mexico

Rich and I will have to plan for a trip to New Mexico this fall.  I was aware of their raptor take lottery, and wanted to submit for this year, but forgot all about it.  A Facebook note from my friend, Sharon, who is a falconer who lives in New Mexico reminded me.  Also, she indicated there were still 3 permits available to take a Harris Hawk after the lottery had been conducted this year.  I contacted their Game and Fish officer yesterday, and after transmitting some payment information and faxing a form, I have in my hand a permit to take an eyas or passage Harris Hawk, my choice, anytime between April 1 of this year and January 15 of next year.  WooHooooo!!

I have much to do before going to New Mexico . . . lots of details to arrange.  However, I'm sure it is going to be an adventure . . . a fun one.  Hey, and I might be able to get Rich and myself a balloon ride.  Among her many other talents, Sharon is a Hot Air Balloon pilot.  How cool is that!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Year in the Life of a Forest

Wow . . . Just Wow!! So very neat!

I came across this out on Facebook. It is worth saving someplace that I can view it often. And share!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Angry Bird . . . Not So Angry

On the final day of the 2012-2013 winter small game hunting season Justin and I got out for a bit of bird flying.  His hawk for the season, Angry Bird (named by his children), is not such an angry bird after all.  In fact, Justin says she is calm and sweet.  Below he's scratching her chest, and she has all the appearance of a bird that is enjoying it.  My RT, Hit Girl, would not tolerate this kind of attention.  Justin is not sure yet if he will let Angry Bird go, or perhaps keep her for a little longer.  She had a really good season, bringing lots of squirrels and a few rabbits, as well as some miscellaneous items to the bag.  On this day she didn't fly with us, as Justin and his family had been away on a family trip, and the person looking after her made sure she was kept in a very un-hungry state . . . . so she was just way too overweight to hunt.  I had failed to get her picture earlier in the year, so this is making up for that oversite.  She ranges on the slightly darker side of normal, and is a lovely girl.
He will finish up his apprenticeship this year, and I have absolutely no objections to advancing him to General Level Falconer.  He has done a very good job of caring for, training and hunting the birds under his care, not because of anything I have done, but because of his enthusiastic nature and drive to succeed.  He will be a fantastic falconer . . . and I look forward to seeing what he can do in the years to come.
After picture taking at his place, we went searching for some brushy places to fly my girls.  Sassy went first, and we chased around several bunnies in two different locations, before finally pushing out one from a huge brush pile.  Why in the world the bunny broke from such good cover, I don't know, but its lack of sense became my advantage.  By the time the bunny below was caught, Justin had to get on with some responsibilities of his own, so we parted ways, and went someplace to fly Hit Girl.  By the time we had her out, all the squirrels had gone home for the afternoon, so no last of the season catches for her.