Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

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Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by alethe » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:07 pm

.
Falconry
fal·con·ry
noun
noun: falconry
the sport of hunting with falcons or other birds of prey; the keeping and training of such birds.
x

Hello! My name is Riv and as you may know, I am a falconer. I got permission from Koa to post this thread in Nature and Wildlife. I will, here, be cataloguing my progress with Revali, my juvenile male red-tailed hawk. He was trapped from the wild on August 12, 2017. This will also be the place to discuss falconry in general. I can answer most of your questions you have. This topic is not for discussing birds of prey as a whole, but for discussing falconry.

Instead of writing up long paragraphs, I've decided to write up a short FAQ for some questions I can see y'all having.

FAQ
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Q: Is the bird your pet?
A: No. Birds of prey are not social animals. They do not feel compassion or love. They do not like being petted. He is a hunting partner, kept for that purpose: hunting. If I do not have a way of hunting him, I would release him back into the wild.

Q: What is the point of taking a bird from the wild? Wouldn't it hinder him?
A: No. He is old enough to not be imprinted, so I will have no negative lasting impact on him. 90% of raptors do not see their second year. With me, he is learning to be a better hunter, and when he goes back into the wild he will forget his training with me after about a week and move on to raise better hunters.

Q: How do you know how old/the gender?
A: Most raptors have different plumage (feather coloring) when they're young. A red-tailed hawk does not get its red tail until its first molt. Revali has a brown branded tail, making him a first year bird.
Gender is told by weight in most raptors, the female being 1/3 larger than the male. We had to guess a bit on him, based on his weight he could either be a large male or a small female. He weighs about 1000g.

Q: How do you keep him from flying off?
A: Food! Raptors are lazy birds. He comes back because he knows I will 1) feed him and 2) he hunts better with me. This bond stops the moment I stop giving him food.

Q: What kinds of birds are used in falconry?
A: All raptors except for vultures, caracaras and owls are commonly used. Owls have been experimented with, but they're useless unless they're imprinted and they have a lower food drive than other raptors. Not to mention that they tend to hunt smaller prey they can swallow whole and carry, which is how to lose a bird. The bird decides he's better without you and leaves. As apposed to a hawk that dispatches a larger animal, he eats on the ground and you can catch up and secure him back on the line.

Q: How do I start with falconry?
A: Depends on where you live. The following only applies to USA falconers, as that's where I'm located at.
- you want to meet more falconers. Join your state's falconry club. Join online falconry communities. Make yourself known. To get your license you will have to find an experienced falconer who is willing to take you under their wing for two years.
- study. Learn about birds of prey.
- Keep an open mind. I know that if I had been doing this how I wanted to, I would have had maybe a fourth of the success that I am having now.

Q: How much does it cost?
A: An arm and a leg.
Recommended Reading:
- California Hawking Club Apprentice Study Guide
- The Modern Apprentice
- Join and ask questions on North American Falconer's Exchange
- North American Falconry Association (includes info for Canadian falconers)
- The British Falconer's Club (haven't read through this, but probably good for UK falconers)
- International Falconry Forum (don't believe the site is open for registration but it has a ton of good info)

Revali
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Image
First day off the trap. Note the way he is standing, and his mouth is open. This is a stressed and confused bird. He doesn't know what is going on and is waiting for me to eat him.

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Second day. He knows I'm not going to hurt him and is more relaxed on the glove. At this point I can do a full body exam with him on fist and he does not bite or foot (yay)

Image

Image

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First hops to fist: seven days off trap. I have been associating a whistle sound with food, so when he hears it in the field he will come to me.

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Ten days off trap: hopping to the glove for food consistently + longer lengths.

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Note the posture: slightly puffed, one foot resting up. He is a happy bird.

Image
19 days off trap: flying 30+ft to me on creance


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I eat danger for breakfast!
Actually, I don’t. I prefer cereal.

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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by DaniBeez » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:17 pm

Neat! I didn't know the birds were caught and then re-released later on. Do you know how long you will have with your bird?

Also:
- How long have you been doing it?
- Do you have your license or are you in the process of getting it?
- What is footing?
- Where does the bird live?

...It's like am AMA!
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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by duskypack » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:54 pm

I was researching falconry a ton a few days ago! It absolutely fascinates me - if it was cheaper I would totally become a falconer (even if it was just for a few years). I'm fascinated by Falcons and, though I think it would be hard on me bonding with an animal who could care less about me, I think it's pretty neat that their time with you will help them and that they'll be easily transition to the wild and thrive more than they normally would.
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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by alethe » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:35 pm

DaniBeez wrote:Neat! I didn't know the birds were caught and then re-released later on. Do you know how long you will have with your bird?

Also:
- How long have you been doing it?
- Do you have your license or are you in the process of getting it?
- What is footing?
- Where does the bird live?

...It's like am AMA!
Indeed haha!

Do you know how long you will have with your bird?
  • This will depend on... well, him. He could fly off on his own the first time I release him, but he could be my partner for a few years. I plan to keep him as long as he'll let me (I know one falconer who released her RT after two years; he started to grow very territorial in his mew which is a sign that he is ready to find a mate)


How long have you been doing it?
  • I have been working with birds of prey for about a year and a half now, and I have had him about a month. He is my first falconry bird.


Do you have your license or are you in the process of getting it?
  • You cannot legally keep the bird without the entire license. I have all the licensing required to house and train a raptor for falconry.


What is footing?
  • Footing is the act of a bird of prey striking out with their feet, mainly towards your bare hand while touching/handling them. Their feet are their main weapon. Footing is simply them using their feet for defense.


Where does the bird live?
  • He stays at my house, in an enclosure called a mew. It is in the backyard, and is 8ft x 8ft x 7ft. My mew isn't finished yet; it passed inspection with flying colors but I'm not done making modifications to it yet (more perches, a swing, etc).

duskypack wrote:I was researching falconry a ton a few days ago! It absolutely fascinates me - if it was cheaper I would totally become a falconer (even if it was just for a few years). I'm fascinated by Falcons and, though I think it would be hard on me bonding with an animal who could care less about me, I think it's pretty neat that their time with you will help them and that they'll be easily transition to the wild and thrive more than they normally would.
It is very fascinating, especially since its so old. Sadly it can be expensive to start. I'd love to fly a falcon when I become a general falconer.


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I eat danger for breakfast!
Actually, I don’t. I prefer cereal.

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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by DaniBeez » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:58 pm

Wow, right in your backyard! Were your parents ok with it :lol: ?

Thanks for answering all my questions too :).
Last edited by DaniBeez on Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by alethe » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:18 pm

a bit, lol. My mom is more put off by the frozen rats taking up freezer space.

Here he is from a few days ago, in all his poof
Image
This behavior is called a rouse and it is a sign of being content.

We have also exhausted the length of my backyard with flights and I am trying to find a park to fly him in tomorrow.


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I eat danger for breakfast!
Actually, I don’t. I prefer cereal.

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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by DaniBeez » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:40 am

What a neat experience! I often get questions about the canine skulls and pelt on display in my bedroom, so I can imagine the attention you'll draw with a live hawk! Hopefully only good attention--maybe a local newspaper feature if you're spotted in a park!
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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by alethe » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:03 pm

man, I hope not! Being an apprentice, I don't want to draw too much attention to myself yet. I actually can't do education programs with him without my sponsor supervising.

However it might be too late for that; I need to wait until I get confirmation, but I might have some good news for y'all in a few months.


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ⋯⋯⋯_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I eat danger for breakfast!
Actually, I don’t. I prefer cereal.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ⋯⋯⋯_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by DaniBeez » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:10 pm

Haha, that's fair! Don't want to say/do something wrong.
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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by alethe » Sun Sep 24, 2017 4:04 pm

Rev took his first lure today! (the quail was not killed by the bird on the lure, it was a frozen quail. Live lures are not often used in falconry because of how unethical they are and it reflects badly on the sport)
some gore?
Show
Image


He seems to be taking to things quite well! Hopefully I will be able to free flight him soon; my sponsor wants to hook some meat up to his mechanical lure and let him fly hard to it.

edit: forgot to add, some more rev.
Image Image Image Image

Slow-mo flight video



_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ⋯⋯⋯_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I eat danger for breakfast!
Actually, I don’t. I prefer cereal.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ⋯⋯⋯_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by Uzumaaki » Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:18 pm

Oh my goooooodness he's beautiful
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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by DaniBeez » Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:26 pm

I like the second last pic best. It's no wonder birds are often used in depictions of sassiness! Dem necks tho
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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by alethe » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:41 am

I feel like I should update y'all on my bird. I haven't been around here much to post about him.

We've been killing rats, mostly! Which is great, but I'd rather hunt some rabbit. He's chased rabbit, hasn't shown interest in squirrel yet. Hoping to do something about that.

Image
There's him, doing yoga

Image
Went to a falconry meet! He's king of the rig.

WARNING: dead game under the cut (nothing too graphic)
Spoiler
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Image


Image

waiting on.
Image

Image


edit: so I feel like giving yall the scoop. sadly, our season is over! revali is now molting, which is where he will grow in a new set of feathers. i will also get his namesake red tail. looking forward to next season with this guy.


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ⋯⋯⋯_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I eat danger for breakfast!
Actually, I don’t. I prefer cereal.

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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by DaniBeez » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:25 pm

When the season ends, what does that mean?
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Re: Falconry -- Hunting With a Bird of Prey

Post by alethe » Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:44 pm

I won’t hunt him, basically.
For starters, most of the game we hunt is out of season, and even if its not (there’s open season for squirrel in texas, for example), its best to let the game reproduce and such.

In addition, when he goes through the molt, he has the chance to break a feather growing in if I hunt him.

His hunting weight would also be far lower in the summer, dangerously low. They burn less calories in the summer, so to get him to respond to me I’d have to drop his weight 100+g more. That could make him so weak he physically can’t hunt.

At this point in the season its best to either release or intermew (keep when not flying). I chose to intermew because I still want to work with him further.


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I eat danger for breakfast!
Actually, I don’t. I prefer cereal.

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