I’ve been meaning to write this post for the last few months but just haven’t gotten around to it. I applied to a job and Cleveland at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which took some effort getting to material and letters together, and then we found out my wife is pregnant, so I’ve been putting in as much time at work as possible trying to get ahead of everything.
Anyway. I stopped hunting Ogedei at the end of February when rabbit and squirrel seasons closed. I started feeding him one and a half to double rations a day in two feedings. He put on a lot of weight and got quite sassy after three weeks. I didn’t really realize how much he’d reverted until it was the day I was going to release him. I could not for the life of me get Ogedei into the giant hood. I ended up removing all of the perches except the window perch. I chased him and he ran around on the floor, landed on my head, flew to the perch. Rinse, repeat. Finally he made the mistake of flying into the equipment room, which is only 4’x8′. I closed the door to the mews and finally cornered him. I ended up grabbing him around the wings and body and putting him head first into the giant hood. I closed the door enough he couldn’t get out but left enough room and light he could turn around. After he was situated I closed the hood and loaded him into the car.
The release spot I picked was a 45 minute drive away along an overgrown power line cut in the Ozark National Forest. I opened the giant hood and expected him to bolt out, but he didn’t. Ten seconds rolled by and then Blam! A rush of feathers and he was off. Ogedei perched in a tree 50 yards away or so and seemed quite content. We watched him for a few minutes and I said my goodbyes. I whirled a dead quail around, made sure it had his attention, and threw it to the base of the tree he was in. We drove off after that; I don’t know if he decided to take my last gift, but I like to think he did.
Since I released Ogedei, the summer has been pretty boring, at least as falconry goes. The only thing that really happened is that I cleaned the mews, which took the better part of the morning. I pulled out the rubber mats and wetted them down to loosen the dried whitewash, then scrubbed them off in the yard. After they were set out to dry I did the same thing with the inside of the mews. I did all of that with a paper mask on to reduce the chance of catching a respiratory illness, what with the aerated water droplets floating around after contacting bird poop.
Other than that, there’s reading books, waiting for the AHA summer picnic, cruising the falconry forums, and waiting until next season.