I finally trapped a hawk!
Cody and Bob, two other falconer’s in the Arkansas Hawking Association, are in Ft. Smith for Thanksgiving this week. They were having problems with a juvenile RT chasing and crabbing with their birds and offered to take me to it if I wanted so 1. I could trap a hawk and 2. their birds would be left alone. I of course took them up on the offer and drove the hour south to Ft. Smith.
After meeting them and jumping in their truck (in retrospect, I don’t know who’s truck it was, but Bob was driving and I assume it is his) we hit the road. We saw a couple of birds before we got to the one that had been bothering them, and tried for one that Cody thought was large. I threw out my trap and when that didn’t work after a few minutes we also threw out Cody’s trap. The bird apparently liked the look of his dwarf hamster much better and hit the trap in a short time. We drove up to the bird and Cody jumped out to deal with it. I tried to get out but the darn door wouldn’t open. Tried unlocking, relocking, and unlocking it again, but Bob had to come around and let me out. By the time I was finally out of the truck Cody had the RT pretty well managed. It turned out not to be a large bird like he’d thought but a smaller male. We hooded and socked it just in case and went to check on the other juvenile.
The second juvenile was conveniently standing on a tall set of lights near a sports field (honestly can’t remember if it was football, baseball, soccer, etc right now). Cody put his trap out and that bird also responded in a few minutes and hit the trap. This time we knew the door wouldn’t open from inside so Cody let me out and we ran to the trap. I grabbed the bird this time and Cody dealt with the nooses. It was larger than the first bird we caught, but not huge. It was probably a small female but perhaps was a large male. Unfortunately we inspected the feet and there were some not-good looking bumps and sores that may have been the beginning of avian pox or some other disease. I decided didn’t want to deal with a sick bird right off the bat with my first bird. Bob and Cody were worried about it crabbing with their birds again so we drove a few miles away before releasing it. I washed off well with hand sanitizer to make sure I didn’t transfer anything to the first bird.
After trapping I went out rabbit hunting with Bob and Cody. All three of their birds got rabbits and I didn’t get to see a single one because I was too busy beating the brush. It was my first time in the field with hunting hawks, so it was still a great experience.
Cody let me borrow some cuffs and jesses so I could unsock the hooded bird and let it poo. It stood on the first rather well and after a few minutes did it’s business. I was satisfied it wasn’t doing to die from being constrained too long and we resocked it for the drive back to Fayetteville.
We found another few juveniles on the way to my car and threw the trap out at one, but it ignored the trap. I was happy with my bird even if it is small, so that didn’t disappoint me overly much.
Once I got home I set the hooded bird up on a box perch in the mews and had lunch because it was nearly 1:30 and I hadn’t eaten since 6 am. It took a second to figure out what was going on but was fine once it got a grip.
After eating as quickly as I could I took the bird into the garage and struck the hood. It looked at me for a few seconds and bated. I put it back on the first and it bated again. After less than 5 minutes of this it was either too tired or decided I wasn’t so terrible and stood on the glove. After a minute or so it bated again. Back on the first he went and he stood again for almost another minute before bating. This happened 4 or 5 times and then he just stood there. I started walking around after a few minutes and he seemed to ride the glove fine. Forty five minutes later he hadn’t bated once, though still wasn’t especially happy. I hooded him, which only took three tries, and took him back to the mews. I didn’t want him to see the dogs just yet and had to walk through the house past them to get to the mews. I unhooded him after he settled back on the the bow perch and there he’s sitting.
I’m going to give him an hour or two to calm down and then try to offer him some food on the fist. His breast isn’t especially sharp, so says Bob, so he may not be interested in food, but I’ll give it a shot. The faster he’s eating the faster I can really get training going.
While walking around the garage amazed he wasn’t bating I was thinking about names. I finally settled on naming him after Ögedei (pronounced Oh-geh-die), Genghis Khan‘s third son and second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. It seems fitting given the Mongol’s long history of falconry.