Tag Archives: hawk

Dropping Weight

Jebe weighed 1195.5g the day I trapped her.  Since then it’s been a waiting game as she drops weight.  The second day I found a 22g casting that was made of fur and grasshopper legs.  She weighed 1145g, so had dropped 30g after taking the casting into account.  She had healthy looking slices, with brown fecal material and no specks of blood.  Over the next few days she continued to drop around 30 grams every night and had multiple slices per day.  On the fifth day she started dropping 16 to 25 grams per night and her slices became smaller and green as she ran out of food to process and unused bile started coming through.

That trend kept up until today.  I weighed Jebe tonight, expecting her to be around 950g as she’s been at 976g yesterday.  She was unexpectedly heavier and weighed 1026g.  Her response to tidbits, even though she hasn’t jumped to the fist yet, is markedly lower than yesterday – while yesterday she could barely stop herself from jumping today she barely gave the tidbit a second glance.  In retrospect, the bow perch was in the middle of the mews while it was closer to the wall this morning and the falconer’s knot that secured her to the perch was really tight.  The only thing I can figure is that a mouse or some other small animal got into the mews and she drug the bow perch to get at it.  I guess tomorrow’s mutes and any casting will tell the tale.

I’ve been told by a few experienced falconers, my sponsor included, not to weigh a wild-trapped bird until it first jumps to the fist.  While this is probably an anomaly (eg, catching something in the mews), it seems like a good reason to at least take note of daily weight prior to jumping to the fist.

Also, it goes to show that the mews should be well secured no matter where you live.  I assumed that since I live in the middle of suburbia and have two dogs that nearly always outside in the fenced yard I wouldn’t have problems with small mammals or venomous snakes.  Obviously I was wrong, though I still don’t think I have to worry about copperheads or rattlesnakes.

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Introducing Jebe

Allen and I drove down to Little Rock for the telemetry scrimmage today.  On the way we passed an enormous red tail; Cody and/or Bob said they thought it was a balloon caught on the wire before they realized it was a hawk.  I thought about trapping it but decided not to as I didn’t want to sock a bird for 3 hours during the scrimmage or drive straight back to Fayetteville.

After the telemetry scrimmage while driving to lunch Allen and I (following behind Cody and Bob) passed a red tail hanging out on a power pole next to an industrial park.  I thought it looked like a juvenile and after a bit of hem-hawing for twenty or thirty seconds decided to turn around.  As I was turning Cody called, confirmed it was a RT, and asked if I was going to trap it.  I told him I would and would let him know how it went.

After passing the bird and turning around again, Allen tossed the BC trap with Russian hamster 5′ off the highway on a side road to the industrial park.  We turned around and waited.  The bird was obviously interested, bobbing it’s head and looking at the trap.  It swooped down onto the trap after a minute or two.  I eased the car up because the trap was on the far side of a small rise in the road.  The bird was oblivious to us, the cars on the highway, and the truck that rumbled past it on the  side road.  The bird footed the trap for a minute and Bam! was caught.  She immediately tried to fly off and drug the trap into the highway.  I was out of the car and running as fast as I could because I could just picture the hawk splattered on the highway.  I got to the bird and a truck was slowing down at the spectacle we were making.  In retrospect I need to add more weight and a drag line.  I got lucky, but it could have ended in disaster.

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I trapped a bird!

Allen and I socked and hooded the bird and drove to lunch.  Everyone thought it was a relatively large bird and worth keeping.  After lunch I cuffed, jessed, and leashed the bird so it could stand on the fist and slice.  Which it did while bating.  All over my arm.

Instead of socking the bird again, Allen was kind enough to drive my car back to Fayetteville while I held the hooded bird on the fist in the back seat.  She sliced onto the seat cover and Allen’s shoulder twice while we traveled.  The feces were brown, so she’d eaten relatively recently and there weren’t any bloody specks or other oddities about it.

After three hours of driving and five minutes from home the bird started making a hacking noise.  I smelled something rank and, worried she couldn’t get whatever she was throwing up through the hood, I struck the braces and unhooded her in the backseat.  The bird cast up some more rancid-smelling meat and, realizing where she was, promptly bated toward the window.  She hung from the fist, thankfully, and I laid her on her back where she stayed for the rest of the trip with that freshly-trapped hawk stare.

After we got home the bird I stood her up on the fist.  She bated a few times, but then stood on the fist without bating for two or three minutes.  She’s chilling out in the mews with cardboard over the window to keep it dark while she mans.  She weighed in at 1195.5g.

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She’s not sure about this situation at all.

I asked Cody and Heath about the smelly meat.  They suggested she probably gorged on Thursday and didn’t put all of it over yesterday.  There was less than half a tidbit’s worth of meat that came up, and she’s a healthy (if a bit stressed right now) bird, so should be alright.  I’m going to keep an eye on her to make sure it doesn’t develop into sour crop, but I think she’ll be alright.  I have pedialyte and apple cider vinegar on hand just in case though.

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Sitting on the bow perch

Over dinner I decided to name the new hawk Jebe (pronounced Jeh-beh) after one of Genghis Khan’s generals. It translates to “The Arrow” in Mongolian because he shot the Khan in the neck during a battle.  He voluntarily confessed to the shot, saying “if Genghis Khan desired to kill him, it was his choice, but if he would let him live, he would serve Genghis Khan loyally”. Jebe went on to become one of the best (top 3) generals in history.

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Look at those feet!

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Ogedei catches a woodrat

Ogedei finally caught something!  It was an eastern woodrat- not exactly the pinnacle of dirt hawking, but at this point I’ll take it.

I drove 45 minutes to a field in the Ozark National Forest I remembered seeing during field work.  It’s a powerline cut for some high-voltage wires.  I was a bit worried about the wires but they’re spaced pretty far apart and hang under the towers, so I didn’t think they would be too big of a problem.  Once I let Ogedei go he flew to the trees next to the field and never gave the towers a second look.

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Hawking field in a powerline cut

The field looked pretty good.  I found fresh rabbit sign immediately – there was a light dusting of snow that fell this morning, so I knew the tracks were at most a few hours old.  There were pellets all around that hadn’t frozen yet too.

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Rabbit tracks!

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And fresh rabbit pellets

I followed the first set of tracks for a while but they ended in a hole.  I never saw the rabbit and suspect it was gone before we got out of the car.

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Rabbit hole

I tried to follow a second set of tracks but they circled around on themselves and I couldn’t figure out where they went.  After half an hour of beating the grass and brush I came upon a tangle of honeysuckle with some rabbit tracks going in and out of it.  I kicked the tangle and Ogedei crashed into the top of it.  He didn’t get very far in so I picked him up.  He was very intent on something so I cast him into a tree and jumped into the honeysuckle.  He crashed into it again and worked his way to the bottom of the pile.  I saw the woodrat at that point run through the snow.  Ogedei hopped/crawled through the tangle as I tried to flush the rat towards him.  At some point he made his way to the top of the honeysuckle again, launched into a short wingover and crashed into the top again.  I shook the bushes a bit more and realized he wasn’t moving.  I untangled myself from the pile and saw he nailed the woodrat.  It never made a sound or struggled, he had it by the head.  At that point Ogedei either fell backwards through the honeysuckle or purposely tried to work to the bottom of the tangle.  He ended up getting caught up in some branches but I freed him to feed on the rat.

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Ogedei crashing into the honeysuckle

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“There’s a rat in here somewhere…”

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Ogedei finally caught something!

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And then he ended up at the bottom of the honeysuckle in a heap

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Suburban Cooper’s hawk

I had an experience yesterday which was both amazing and kind of strange.

Sarah and I went to a friend’s house for dinner.  The area they live in is really open with large yards and few trees.  As we walked up to the house I noticed some kind of raptor near the bushes next to the house.  The sun wasn’t quite right and all I saw was a silhouette of a largish bird. I decided to get closer to see what it was.  Turns out it was a huge Cooper’s hawk.  I got within 10′ or so before it decided that was close enough <i>and it ran across the yard</i> (20 feet or so).  I thought that was really weird, so I walked up to it again, and it ran a bit further.  Walked up again and it flew the last few feet to some bushes, but pulled up short in front of them.  I thought I could get close again and snuck around the bush, making sure I didn’t see it fly away.  I came around the bush and it wasn’t there anymore.  I walked up to where it had been standing and looked around.  A second later it hopped up to the top of the bush, which is maybe 5′ tall, with it’s back to me.  It was only 3′ or so away.  I saw the striped tail but noticed the the eyes were brown and the breast was streaked with brown and thought that was strange – I found out when I got home those are characteristics of an immature bird.  It looked at me for a few seconds, long enough for me to make those observations, pull my phone out and get it ready to take a photo, before lazily flying off to stand on the roof of the house across the street.

I posed this to the Arkansas Hawking Association forum to see what other people thought.  It seems to me to be really strange behavior for a Cooper’s hawk.  It might be that it’s an inexperienced juvenile and didn’t know how to handle the situation.  I thought it might also be a case of acclimatization – it was in a suburban area and so around people a lot, maybe it’s just use to humans.

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Immature Cooper’s hawk. © William Jobes. The original photo can be found here

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Immature Cooper’s hawk in flight. © Gerard R. Dewaghe. Original photo can be found here

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This is the angle I saw the hawk from when it was in the bush. © invisiblewoman. Original photo can be found here

Adult cooper's hawk

Here’s an adult Cooper’s for comparison. The eyes are red, wings and back are slate grey. ©Onafly. The original photo can be found here

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