Haha! I understand, Augie, and I enjoy sharing about this stuff, so here goes;
1. It's a VHF transmitter. We had an incident last year where she got hung up in some heavy brush and I couldn't find her. After about 30 minutes she got loose and flew to me but she had injured herself badly. I made up my mind then, that I wouldn't let that happen again. If she decides to leave, then fair's fair and I wish her well but if she needs help I want to be able to find her.
2. Her favorite treats are these day-old chicks I buy from a chicken hatchery. They are soft and fuzzy...they look like the candy Easter Peeps that kids get...and they have a yolk inside that is, apparently, quite tasty. Most hatcheries euthanize the male chicks as soon as they hatch, for practical and economic reasons, and they are bought by zoos, rehab facilities, and people who keep raptors, reptiles, and such. They are very nutritious and my bird loves them.
3. There is a perch at each end of the mews, so that she can be out in the open or back in the sheltered part. I use closet rods wrapped with sisal rope to provide a rough surface which is good for her feet and talons.
She also has a large pan of water for bathing and drinking, which I empty/scrub/refill daily. If you've ever watched a little bird in a birdbath, flipping water on itself and scooching around...she does the same thing. Cute as can be.
4. The upward swinging motion as I raise the glove will catch her eye from far away. Under normal circumstances I will put a tidbit of venison on the glove and call her name. She has also learned that if she hears the 'emergency-whistle' it means there will be a bigger treat such as a chick. I only use this when I really need to get her to me immediately.
5. We hunt mostly in the afternoon/evening and she kind of knows the drill. If it's getting dark, she hasn't caught anything, and I start heading back, she switches from hunt-mode to follow-mode and will fly from from tree to tree as I walk, coming down for tidbits in between. If she has caught game she will have a full crop and just relax on the glove as I walk back.
6. An apprentice can only have one bird. A General falconer can have two wild-caught birds, and a Master can have up to five. There is not a limit on the number of captive-bred birds but an apprentice cannot use one. There are stringent regulations and specific problems with captive-bred, and imprinted, birds. I prefer wild birds, mainly because they are never 'pets'...they are always capable of going back to the life they were living before they were caught.
7. A net is one method. The 'bow-net' is spring loaded, and activated by pulling a string. A live pigeon is put into a vest, or harness, on another string and when the hawk comes down for it, the net is released. Another method is using a bal-chatri, or BC, which is a small wire cage with a live mouse or gerbil inside. The outside is covered with slipknots made of fishing line. Either way, once the hawk is caught, you've got yourself an angry raptor which must be safely immobilized and examined. Exciting stuff, that. A determination must be made as to the suitability of the bird...age, sex, health, etc...and if it is a keeper then anklets are put on and the process of 'manning' begins. Basically they need to learn that they are safe and are going to be fed. Once that is established they learn very rapidly.
8. The talons are the business end of a hawk. A big Redtail can exert 400 psi. I have personal experience with this and it is very humbling. Still, most falconers carry a sharp awl or icepick so that if a game animal is struggling and not immediately killed, it can be humanely dispatched. The philosophy that most of us adhere to is that the prey animals are as worthy of respect as the predators.
9. My bird has gobbled down mice, voles, frogs, and snakes. They will avoid large animals if there is easier prey but, if a Redtail gets hungry enough, cats, small dogs, chickens, etc., are not out of the question.
10. Sight is definitely the main tool and a hawk's sight is phenomenal. I've seen my bird launch into a tree 600 yards away because of the flick of a squirrel-tail.
11. Falconry is regulated by each state's DNR (In Virginia it's the DGIF...same thing). Until a few years ago, a federal permit was required but that has been delegated to the states. I do still have to report certain events to a federal database, such as the capture, release, loss, or death of a wild bird...but everything else is determined at the state level, including the season. In Virginia the season is from October 1st to March 31st. Interestingly, I also have to obtain a small-game hunting license like any other hunter. Even though I'm not really the hunter. But birds hate filling out paperwork.
So, a couple of other things I will share that were shocking to me;
The numbers vary a little depending on the study, but it is generally agreed that about 80% of wild hawks do not survive their first year of life. It's dangerous out there...vehicles, fences, powerlines, diseases...and there are many other variables such as the availability of game, weather, inherited or learned hunting skills, etc.
A Redtail can live to be 25 years old. The average lifespan of a Redtail in the wild is...get this...2 years.
One thing that some people don't understand about falconry is that a young hawk is being helped through that critical first year. Many falconers work with a bird for 1-3 seasons and then release a strong, healthy, experienced bird back into the wild, and into the breeding population.
'12 950 VStar Tourer
Last edited by Huntswithhawks; 12-29-2016 at 12:24 PM.