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!