Monday, February 3, 2014

Snowshoe Hawking

It has been terribly cold here in the Upper Midwest.  This winter has been really hard to hawk the Harris Hawks.  I am really missing that I don't have a Redtail.  This has me making plans to make sure next year I have a new mew for a RT, and that I make an extra effort to trap a large female.  I'd like to show Greg how to do bow netting.  Hopefully, if we put forth the effort to secure a location near the river, we'll actually have a migration this next fall.  The birds were just absent in our area this last trapping season. 

The thermometer creeped above 20 degrees last Wednesday, January 29.  We took Sassy to chase squirrels in Spring Grove.  We had to use snowshoes, as the recent snow and then blizzard winds had piled it up deep in many areas.  Her increased weight from lounging around the mew meant she didn't try too very hard.  You can get away with this kind of sloppy weight control with a HH, as they tend to not fly off, as a RT would.  However, the downside is that they don't try too hard.  She had a close call with a squirrel that lost it's footing when the branch it jumped for broke off, but at the base of the tree was a lot of "water sprouts", extra branches growing from the base of the tree, which Sassy became tangled in, and through which the squirrel escaped.  We walked around for about an hour letting her stretch her wings before I decided I was tired from tromping through the snow with my snowshoes.  Sassy is fly-able in the 20s, but she is quick to quit and return to the warmth of the vehicle.

Hunting season for rabbits and squirrels closes in a month.  I'm seriously thinking about manipulating the bird's light in their mew.  I'd like to increase Sassy's light to stimulate the molt to start early, and I'd like to restrict Wasp's light, to extend his hunting season into spring.  He has only hunted mice and voles, and I'd like to get him on birds, so I'm not too worried about flying him after the close of rabbit and squirrel season, as he has shown no interest in them at this point.  I would like to see if I can delay his molt into the fall, and molt him over next winter.  If I can't fly him because of the cold, I might as well do something useful with that time.

It is Monday now, February 3rd.  It may get into the 20s today, and the sun is shining.  We will try to get out again today, if I can decide where to go.  I'd like to chase rabbits, but with the deep snow, they are going to be hard to find.

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