The month since my last post has been eventful to say the least.
First, my wife had our baby, Vaun, on 27 December after 40 hours in labor (!!!). He weighed 7 lb 14.5 oz and is perfectly healthy. It’s certainly been an adjustment having him, but I couldn’t be happier.
Unfortunately, the week before Vaun came Jebe hurt herself. I’m not sure how it happened, but her wing was injured. I first noticed when I took her out hunting on 20 December. She flew up to a reasonably high perch but then refused to follow. I attributed it to high weight and called her to the lure. The next day she refused to leave the fist when I took her out. I walked around for a few minutes before she finally hopped off the fist. She fluttered to the ground in the heap and obviously couldn’t fly. I was quite worried, I thought she may have broken a wing bone, and tried calling every vet I could when I got home. Of course none of them were open on Sunday afternoon and none of the emergency clinics would see a bird, but I managed to get an appointment for Monday morning. The x-rays showed there was no damage to the bone, just some atrophy in the shoulder joint she couldn’t use. The vet suggested it was a chronic condition that finally gave out, but other falconers on the AHA forum didn’t think so. Regardless of how it happened, the vet gave me prescriptions of lixotinic and prednisolone.
I kept Jebe confined to the giant hood for two weeks and fed her up to 1100g to allow the wing to heal. She was able to fly between perches in the mews after the time off, so I started bringing her weight back down slowly.
On 10 January I took Jebe back out into the field. I flushed two rabbits in as many hours and she made good chases at both. The first was a long 60 yard flight, the rabbit ran along the edge of a field before diving back into the woodline. Jebe was 20 yards out of place and took 3-4 seconds to decide to launch, so had a lot of ground to make up. I missed the flight as I was tangled in honeysuckle and thorns when the bunny flushed. Jebe remounted after I found her on the ground sulking, but I couldn’t reflush the rabbit. The second rabbit flushed along the woodsline, but ran into the trees. I missed most of that flight as well and found Jebe sitting angrily on a mossy log. After a while with no more flushes a guy with four dogs started walking the opposite side of the field that I hadn’t worked yet. I figured what rabbits might have been there weren’t any more so called Jebe to the lure. It was a 150 yard flight into the middle of the field and Jebe gave the laziest flight I’ve ever seen. Not sure if she was tired after hunting for two hours (which is the longest she’s been out of the mews in a few months), frustrated with lack of/missing game, or what.
I took Jebe out again on 14 January. My parents came to see Vaun for a few days and came out as they’d never see me hunt one of my birds. We managed to flush two rabbits. Jebe had a great chance at the first as it ran straight at her, but she hit the ground just behind it. For the second rabbit she was way out of position and didn’t see it run.
We went out again today, 17 January, this time to Hobbs State Park. I found some places there last year, but all of them were bad. The grass had all died back, leaving open ground with no cover. I’m not sure what happened. I tried to hunt squirrels with her, but we didn’t see any, even though I found plenty of nests and some sign (chewed up walnut husks). Jebe was really weird about the giant hood and didn’t want to go into it. I’m not sure why, but I’m going to have to work with getting her liking it again.