2012 is bringing with it some exciting new changes. A "Focus" in the Wild has recently published a new Wildlife Photography Magazine~ You can purchase a copy with the paypal link to the left :-) With every Magazine ordered I will email you a complimentary Desktop Calendar for that month~ to use on your computer desktop.
Here are a few photos I captured off of the video footage from today..~
(Thank you Prois for such a fantastic line of women’s hunting and outdoor apparel.. cloths that really work)
I am often asked.. why I would want to fly a hawk. Other Falconers often prefer falcons over hawks as they are better suited to hunt different quarry. I fell in love with Red Tails 11 years ago. I love their personalities. I love their courage. I love to watch them fly, and hunt~ and it is all up close and very personal. Each bird has a unique personality and temperament. But this last image~ for me, gives a small glimpse into the answer to the question.. Why..?
Coffee is poured ~ and bait escaped some time during the night. Since we share our home with a couple of dogs and one is a Jack Russell that loaths mice and rats, I figured I was in trouble. Hawk checked the mouse trap, but it was still empty. As Josiah was getting ready for school, he spotted the mouse hiding under the kitchen island. After a little demolition work~ bait was once again caught and we headed out the door. There were a couple hawks hunting not far from the house, but none were interested in mouse for breakfast.
A trip over town on our way back to the river bottom and Hawk got permission from the local feed lot to “catch all the pigeons you want”
I harnessed up the pigeon and we took the back roads to the spot we had seen the young bird last night.
As we pulled down the old bouncy dirt road, Hawk spotted her sitting on a power pole. ~ I got ready and as we went by I carefully tossed the bait into the grass~ it had barely left my finger tips when I looked up and she was already diving.~ Wham! wings spread in a silent attack. We hurried back, but she wasn’t caught yet, just very hungry. I watched through my camera lens from a distance waiting until I was sure she was caught~ and Hawk watched beside me through his broken monocular. Breath held, it seemed like forever~ but when I reached for her~ she pulled lose and flew a few feet away. I backed off immediately thinking I had just lost this bird, but to my amazement when we got far enough away, she came running out of the brush, sauntered down the road and once again captured her meal (the pigeon) This time she was caught and I was able to get her gathered up and released from the trap~ hooded and on the way home. with a HUGE smile on my face. Hawk released the mouse into a cut oat field ~ where I am sure he will be glad the Jack Russell will never find him.
Back at home~ she has on her new jesses and anklets ~ she sits the fist very well and is a very brave girl. 1300g~ 45.85oz trapped weight
She ate the first night~ and today lets me enter the mew unhooded and pick her up with no fuss at all, even though she’s still nervous and puffed up to try to scare me.
Looking forward to working with this beautiful girl.. as for a name, I haven’t decided yet.. maybe I will let my readers and “her” fans pick a name..~
70-80% of all raptors die in their first year of life. This girl was very hungry and she came after the bait almost immediately~ I have no doubt that if she hadn’t found food in the next few days.. she would have been in the percentage that didn’t survive~ The bird are usually hungry or in poor health if they come to the bait in the first place.. healthy birds who are successful hunters will most often ignore the trap~ adult birds who are proven hunters cannot be trapped for falconry purposes. I usually fly them for a year or 2 then release them. at this point they are past that first year, and are stronger and confident hunters ~
As some of you know I am, and have been a licensed falconer for 11 years now. I have been blessed to work with some amazing people in the rehab community and some unforgettable birds.
The last few days I have been thinking about each one of the hawks that I have had the pleasure to connect with. And as I sat on a remote dirt road, anxiously watching a hawk through my camera lens (don’t have a decent pair of binoculars ) I felt that same excitement and anxiety that I felt as I watched my first falconry bird come in for the bait. The only difference is 11 yrs ago~ I had already spent a month searching and trying to convince a legal bird to come to the trap.
Day 1 trapping for a falconry bird. ~ set the live trap out last night hoping to catch a mouse to use for bait. My husband went down to the wood pile to check and see if the peanut butter and bird seed had worked~ while I got ready for the day. No mice in the trap .. But after finding my winter gloves, and a little help from the lab dog~ (ok.. he isn’t much help, but he thinks he is) Hawk was able to capture a small mouse..small is better than nothing. I grabbed my cameras, my capture falcon license, an old towel and various other pieces and parts of equipment I would need and we headed out the door.
The weather is beautiful and right off we were able to locate a couple of bird sitting on the power poles ~ both adult birds~ so I didn’t take the time to set out the bait. Late morning we spotted a tall, thin juvenile red tail sitting on a pole above a road killed pheasant. I put out the bait and we backed off to watch. Cars rushed by on the high way and I worried that her hunger would get the best of her and she would go for the pheasant she was watching and get hit. There was a break in traffic and she finally settled down~ her head bobbed up and down as she focused on the bait in the trap. She nervously looked around, and finally~ her wings spread as she swooped down toward the trap…only to scoop up a garter snake from the highway. She flew to a nearby rise and lid on a sage brush to enjoy her meal.
I gathered up the trap and we ran back to town to pick our son up from school. ~
Later that afternoon, after returning to the area to see if I could spot her again, and setting out the bait for a couple different birds and getting ignored~
We located another young redtail in a tree at the edge of a field. Her bright white chest patch made her easy to observe from a distance. I threw the bait for her 3 different times. At one point she came in and lit on the road next to the trap.. checked it out for a bit and then retreated to a nearby fence post~ before returning to the line of trees. Not sure if she was hoping for a larger meal, or just confused by the trap~ but if you ask me ~ I think the mouse made a deal with her.. or maybe told her what I was up to and she decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
on the way home we spotted a few different hawks close to the house and decided to try to be out at sunrise to try again.
Not a bad day at all for the first day of trapping.
I lost Sinte to an encounter with an eagle a few days ago. She flew over a rise an out of my sight. I thought at first that she may have seen a rabbit or was just mad at me and pouting. So I waited for a bit, but by the time I got to her, it was too late. I take full responsibility in this situation and do not hold the eagle in question responsible at all. It is mating season here in the west, and at this time of year the raptors can become quite territorial and don't tend to take kindly to sharing their hunting areas. I will miss her, and I hope that she is somewhere out there soaring above the sage covered hills that she enjoyed so well... with the sun shining down upon her and the wind at her back...
Since then we have been working on Sinte's strength and stamina.. She is flying and responding very well. Recieved a slight injury to her wing about a week ago, so we have taken time off to heal.. Should be getting back on track this week, weather permitting.
She is working out quite well and flying with great response on the creance.. I am holding her back some because of the weather... it is staying consistently COLD.. and with the holidays I have been just too swamped to take her out hunting yet, but I have no doubt she will do great when we finally get the chance...
If you haven't entered the "Name the Bird" contest yet.. don't forget that it ends Dec 31 and a name will be chosen on New Years..
Thanks everyone...Stay warm and Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones...
As I type these words, I sit here with this fabulous creature on my fist. He is beginning to become accustomed the feel of my hand in place of a limb or branch. I can feel his body starting to relax, and just when I think all is well and it is time to move on the the next step, he quickly changes his mind and will once again clamp down with his needle sharp talons on my hand. With each clench, I am grateful for the protective leather glove, and remind myself once again to check the seams. I can’t help but feel for this beautiful creature, every encounter he has had with man has been a negative experience. They don’t know that the people that rescue them did not cause the pain that got them in this predicament in the first place. They do not comprehend that the veterinary treatment that they have had to undergo was to help them heal, and ideally have the opportunity to be released back into the wild and beautiful land where they rightfully belong. Therefore, my time with them I have to show them the utmost patients and help them to see that I WILL NOT under any circumstances cause them pain. No wonder he looks at me as if I am an evil demon here to consume his soul. Each day I can see the confusion and then the understanding that crosses behind his eyes as I reward him for every small step that he takes toward finally trusting me. Each of these birds has so much personality and the rehab birds come with their own pile of issues to work through. We have already come a long way in the few days that we have been working together.
I would like to start this post with an opology, I have let almost two complete weeks pass by with out a post.... I will try to stay more on schedule in the future... :-)
Some of the most beautiful things in life don’t usually start out that way. You all have to admit that this is a face that only a mother could love, and truthfully, I am not even sure if “she” was capable.
Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. That is what makes this such a fantastic and fascinating world. Some are born with beauty and some have to literally find their wings before their true beauty is attained.
This is a photograph of my little Skeeter when he came to me. It took many months of care before his true beauty started to shine through, months of taking him with me in a large cast stainless steel bowl every time I had to leave the house for more than an hour, and with were we live that is every time I left. It didn’t take long before I got used to the strange looks from people, but oddly enough, I can’t recall anyone stopping to ask what it was. Not at all like being out with a cute little puppy or other assorted natural beauties..
Intensity, as defined in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary
Connections between human beings and the winged ones are nothing new.. For thousands of years native peoples of the Americas have told stories about the common ground between us. Both humans and winged beings walk upright on two legs, the winged ones it is said carry our prayers to the creator on powerful wings, and in many cultures the raptors are thought to be messengers of the Great Spirit. Feathers of birds have been worn in a place of honor amongst many tribes for untold generations and some of these feathers are still worn in ceremonies by the descendents of these ancient warriors after hundreds of years. Through my lifetime I have been fortunate to learn from my elders the old ways of the people and to honor all the creatures who we share this great earth with. When my wife Stacey began her falconry apprenticeship several years ago I was more than happy to help her in her endeavors, from the countless days spent roaming the countryside, as she trapped her first wild bird, to the weeks of training and conditioning both the bird and herself for the hunt . I was honored to be included the first time she hunted the bird from her fist. Many years have passed since that first moment of her bonding with the winged warriors of the sky and I have witnessed the growth of her spiritual awareness and skills as a falconer. But one thing has remained unchanged throughout her journey, and that is her connection to the birds. In this photo I took of her and Abby, you can see the love and respect she has for these majestic hunters. I apologize for the picture I am not a photographer and have little talent in that department. But I am gifted with the ability to notice when someone is walking through life with a good heart and a true spirit… And I am proud to say she is all of that and more… Hawk