Around 2011 I began collecting a few Harris Hawks for falconry. I had fond memories of the little bird I trapped during my year in Texas for the 2009/2010 season, and hoped to experience the same only in different forms. It all started with Sassy, who was a most excellent bird that I was able to acquire from another falconer who was reshuffling her priorities to focus more on goshawks.
In 2013 I arranged to purchase a male captive-bred hawk from Oregon. My plan was to form a cast, or two hunting birds flying together, which is a unique trait with Harris Hawks. I had just begun to get the team going, and then the season ended. Unfortunately, in July of that year, the little male I had purchased died suddenly, leaving me with just Sassy again. Some fellow lady falconers must have heard my sad tale, and in September 2014 I was contacted and asked if I would like a little 'hand-me-down' hawk. That is when Bam-Bam entered my life. I very quickly changed his name to Flint, as I hoped to bash him into shape to be a better bird, a hunting bird. He came with known aggressive tendencies.
I would go on to form a cast with Sassy, who was a much more dominant female, and put Flint in his place. I would later refer to them as "Team A". When they were flown together she took the initiative and did all the work. He was not much of a team player. During their season flying together, he never caught any game on his own. He was just along for the ride.
In October of 2015 I trapped Wyvern from down in Texas. I quickly began to focus more on what I would call "Team B", that is Wyvern and Sassy flying together. If I ever flew Flint with the girls, it was usually just chaos. He was more of a hindrance than help. More and more I would not bring him along for a hunt, nor did I often hunt him alone.
In March of 2016 Sassy died suddenly of an accident. She was a most fabulous falconry bird! I've had none other like her. This brought me back to just Wyvern and Flint. I would try to work on "Team C". In the fall of 2017, before Wyvern was ready to fly, post molt, I flew Flint on his own, and he would catch the first and only bunny of his career.
I would continue to attempt to get "Team C" going, but Flint took a dominant attitude with this much younger and inexperienced female, and she would not assert herself, even though she was bigger. They would catch at least one bunny together, but continued flying them together was just a headache, and Flint was the trouble-maker. This eventually earned him the bench.
Over the last couple years I have recognized that Flint really needed a new job, a new placement. It has become a running joke with a couple of my falconry and education friends, trying to pawn him off, but it was only half-joking. He may not be a great hunter, but he was my longest kept Harris Hawk, and I didn't want to give him to just anyone. When I released Wyvern back to the wild in 2021, I thought about trying to work with the little dude one more time. He had sat idle in his mew for too long. Then a new opportunity presented itself.
I was contacted by Flint's first owner. She had donated a bird of her own to a small wildlife sanctuary in West Bend, Wisconsin. She wanted to know if Flint was still in my possession, and would I consider sending him there as well. It seemed an answer to my little problem. But first, he had to have a health certificate and permission to enter Wisconsin. I set him an appointment with the Raptor Center in St. Paul. My husband caught this little video snippet to record his sad little chirps when he is cast.
With a clean bill of health, I arranged the final details to transport him to his new home.
I recorded a last video in his mew, tied to a perch so I could easily catch him, to remember just how much of pain in the rear end he was.
On Thursday, June 23, 2022 we drove the four hours from our home to the Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bend and delivered him to his next life chapter.
He will be housed next to the female Harris Hawk previously donated, with the hope they may eventually get along enough to be caged together. He was a little freaked out, understandably, when I removed him from his giant hood and took the last of his equipment off. However, after we got to drive around the zoo, and returned back by where he is caged, he had calmed down, and was making his quiet contact calls.
I hope life for him as an education bird, being "off to college" as it were, turns into an OK life for him. I look forward to hearing how things work out for the little dude. With his departure, I am now Harris Hawk free. My plans for now are to focus only on the current Red Tail dragon that is falling apart in her mew, putting in her new adult feathers. I look forward to the upcoming season, focusing on only the one bird.
Good Luck Flint!