We picked up a beautiful passage hawk 12 days ago. A falconer and his wife who live south of us had trapped her and put out an alert in the falconry community to see if anyone was looking for a Red-tailed Hawk. My husband was! He had been trapping all month (with help from my brother and I) and had a few close calls, but none would stay on the trap. So, needless to say, we were all very excited, relieved and thankful to hear that she was trapped and available as it was getting late in the season.
To capture a bit of history and chronicle the manning of a hawk, I’ll be keeping track of the daily progress that my husband makes with Bellatrix (Bell).
Day 1: Prepare room (drop cloths on the floor, plastic on the walls, dark curtains, comfy chair and table), giant hood (a crate for transporting hawks). We picked up the hawk, drove home and he sat with her on his arm in the dark for 3 hours. He tried to feed her, but knew that she would not be comfortable enough to accept food yet.
Day 2-10: Wash, rinse, repeat – morning, afternoon and night. During this period, the hawk is not only reluctant to accept food, but will not bend down to eat it as they are vulnerable and unsure if you are trustworthy. Also, the prey is not alive, which could be different than what they’re used to. My H offered food from a stick close to her beak until she accepted it. It took a few days, but she finally ate the mice if it was placed right next to her beak.
Day 11: Today was the day – we had a breakthrough! This morning, Bell finally leaned over to eat a tiny rodent from my husband’s glove. This was a huge step in her progress and the result of 10 days of extreme patience to earn her trust.
The Outdoor Blogger Network has put forth a challenge via their “Writer’s Prompt” to share with the blogosphere why we have so named our blogs.
Although the name of this blog may seem self explanatory, I thought I’d still share its humble origins.
When I learned of my husband’s interest in falconry, I thought it would be enlightening and helpful to other falconers if we created a blog about his exploits and adventures in this amazing sport. As the moment grew closer to trapping his first bird, we realized that he was going to have to invest a significant amount of time and effort”manning” and training a new hawk, leaving him little time for laptop musings. We then thought maybe he could use a blog to keep track of his progress (i.e. weight, amount fed, milestones reached, etc.) and many falconers use a blog for this purpose. But then, the “day before” arrived, my H was ready for his first adventure and everything changed…
Twas the night before trapping, and all through the house
All of rodents were stirring: 4 gerbils and one sad mouse
The alarm was set, gauntlets ready and lunch made
Tomorrow was the day when the trap would be laid
I had so much fun listening (and visualizing his stories in my mind), that we made a last minute change and at the midnight hour, I became nominated as the official blogger for our family.
Voila, The Falconer’s Wife was born.
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.
A beautiful 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.
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.