My husband is teaching Gracie to fly from the perch to his gauntlet. He fed her a little mouse for breakfast, which she quickly Houdini’d and I was able to catch on film. This is the first chance I’ve had to take some candid photos of her in the daytime. The morning light was in my favor and I enjoyed the results as the hawk is so captivatingly beautiful. Here are a few of them…

Close-up Series

What a stare!

MMMouse

On the glove

Inquisitive look

Now, off to breakfast and needless to say, I won’t be having any Mickey Mouse pancakes!

Last night, Gracie flew from a perch on the floor, to my H’s gloved hand – almost 17 feet.  Great progress!  He gets up bright and early each morning to spend time with her, again at lunch and late into the evening.  It’s exciting to start to see the results of his efforts. It seems that this sport, like anything that you want to become good at, takes time, patience, commitment and consistency.

When I awoke this morning, I heard a hawk’s call loud and clear in our house.  But, as I ventured to the kitchen, it was a Youtube video playing for our two dogs.  They are becoming more accustomed to the eery, but beautiful sound.  They looked  at me for verification that everything was allright, I gave them the nod, and then they assumed their normal positions on the floor.

The hawk’s call is such a unique sound.  I read that often in movies, they mistakenly use the hawk’s cry for that of an eagle.

Here’s an informative bird site where you can listen to four types of calls that the Red-tailed hawk makes (scroll down a bit when the page opens):  http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-tailed_Hawk/sounds

fpic

Flamingo IMG_3236At breakfast this morning, my H explained to me that Gracie, while perched on his gauntlet (glove), stood on one leg, but the other leg was suspiciously suspended in midair.  It was 5:00 in the morning, he was sleepy, and for the briefest of moments, he thought, “Is this a good sign or a bad sign?”

In his dreamy state, he reasoned to himself that standing on one leg could mean one of two things:

1. She’s getting ready to do a Karate chop, talon-swipe-ninja move

2. She’s chilled out flamingo-like and tropical isle style

Number 1 = husband may end up with talons for earrings.
Number 2 = happy family.

Luckily, it was just part dream, part reality and he explained to me that when the hawk rests on just one leg, it can be seen as a sign that they are comfortable around you.  This makes sense as it seems they would be more vulnerable in this position.

I always wondered why birds stood on one leg.  Usually, when I do, it’s because my feet hurt or I’m in a Yoga tree pose.

I found this explanation from Birdnote.org:

“Birds’ legs have an adaptation called “rete mirabile”  that minimizes heat loss. The arteries that transport warm blood into the legs lie in contact with the veins that return colder blood to the bird’s heart. The arteries warm the veins. By standing on one leg, a bird reduces by half the amount of heat lost through unfeathered limbs.”

So, the moral of the story is, if you see a bird standing on one leg, it either only has one leg or it literally is chilling out.

Received txt msg from H at 7:12 a.m.:
She got the carpet, slice.
If u have can u bring
carpet clnr? Pls LU

Since Gracie graced our home, I’ve only just peeked in the doorway of the “hawk” room, not wanting to startle her.  But this morning, my H invited me to come all the way in the room to see her.  I cautiously crept in, edging around the outside of the room, trying to make myself look as small as possible and then slid down along the wall to the floor.  Her wings and shoulders arched up hunchback-esque to make herself look badder than me… and she was.  I kept on telling myself, “Don’t look her in the eyes,”  but it was like trying to avoid Medusa.  Where’s Perseus when you need him?

After my drama moment passed and my peripheral vision began to work again, I started to relax.  It only seemed to take a moment or two for her to let down her guard as we all sat in silence together.  The rule is: she can stare, we can’t.  A silent truce had just been made.

As I began to look around the room, I noticed a few spots on the towels that covered the carpet (and the one that had missed). Could this be what I had heard so many rumors about?  Is it slice? I asked my H and he said it was, and began to educate me about the intricacies of hawk poo.  Let me convey my limited understanding to the curious reader:

To Slice (verb) is the act of pooing at an angle by a hawk.  The speed of the slice (sph) depends on the type of raptor (i.e. if it’s a Velociraptor, watch out).

Mute (noun) describes a falcon or hawks poo, particularly the more solid ones that fall down (again, watch out). 

Mute (verb) The act of pooing. (also means to be silent, which is probably what I should have been on this subject)

Chalk/Whitewash (noun) white pee-like substance. (gag)

I invite any whose knowledge and expertise surpasses mine (the bar is set really low here) to further elucidate my readers on this fascinating topic.

P.S.
My H hasn’t had to use our “safe” word yet (in case something goes terribly wrong), which is “meatloaf”
He forgot what it was yesterday and thought it was “watermelon” which would have been really bad, because I would have ran to the grocery store while he was being wing-slapped by a wild hawk.

As the next few weeks are a critical time of bonding and introducing Gracie to the world of man, my H spent almost the entire day with her.  She seems to be relaxing more and more in his presence, but she is still a wild animal.  He said it takes time and patience to create a mutual bond of trust and respect and he wants to expose her to new things in a careful and controlled manner.

P.S.
I’ve heard rumors about when they poo – it’s officially called slicing – ugh!
Ruining pie for me.
Happy to say that after day 1, the whole topic is still a mystery.
No visual violations occured.
Some things just can’t be unseen.

Husband and hawk survived their first evening together.  They sat in a darkened room with just a sliver of light to see eachother with.  She was perched on his arm for about 4 hours.  He fed her two little white mice that were at the end of a skewer and said it was a good sign that she was relaxed enough to eat near him and even better that she bent over a little to eat the other one. The mice are frozen and boiling water was added to warm them up (not my idea of a culinary delight).   Luckily, our cousin, and proud owner of the other new hawk (named Scout), came over to lend a hand with the icy denizens in our freezer.

P.S.
There are no prerequisites for being a falconer’s wife other than love, appreciation and support.
You don’t have to skewer dead mice unless you’re really into it.

So, this is how it went:

6:30 a.m. husband and brother meet up to go trapping

10:47 a.m. txt message received: 1220 gram-ish
1:39 p.m. txt message received: boy
4:56 p.m. arrive home with a Redtail hawk

What that means (I had to call to get the juicy details), is that the first one they caught weighed approximately 1220 grams and is probably a female (due to size).  Evidently, it’s not that easy to tell if it’s a male or female, but the female’s are usually bigger.  And then, 2 1/2 hours later, they caught another one, possibly a male (again, this is thought because of its size).  The second one is for our cousin who is also a first-time falconer.

Redtail Hawk

A beautiful Redtail Hawk

Redtail Hawk

Safely wrapped up for the ride back home

I made my H some dinner as the rest of his evening is going to be spent bonding with his new Redtail.  He has the lights down low and is keeping the room quiet.  I’ve got the dogs upstairs with me, keeping them away, as this is a critical time for husband and hawk to get to know one another.

Being Hawk-eyed

Being Hawk-Eyed!

Well, it’s the “night before,” once again.  No luck last week, but there are high hopes for catching a hawk this weekend.  Preparations are again being made – the trap, the bait, the location and where to meet up.  Further details to come!

If anything exciting happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.

After a long weekend spent roaming the countryside, the adventuresome crew caught a kestrel, which my husband’s sponsor will take home and “man,” which means, “To acclimate a bird to your presence. A bird is said to be “well manned” when she is comfortable around people and accepting of their presence” according to The Modern Apprentice.

It’s the night before.  My husband is preparing for an early start tomorrow (5:45 Saturday a.m.) as finally, after months of studying to pass the exam, the building of the mews, inspections and paperwork, it’s that time…to trap a hawk.  I made some snacks (with love and enough to share) for the exciting day ahead.  My brother, who is an apprentice will be there to help as well as our cousin who is also trapping for the first time.  Heading to the North Georgia mountains with their sponsor, I’m anticipating that they’ll have quite an adventure and who knows, by the end of the day, our lives could be changing with the addition of a beautiful, powerful and wild bird in our midst.