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thatgirlwithalltheanimals:

I recently bought a critter nation cage, intending to spilt the cage into two parts and housing my new rats only on the top. However, this became unnecessary so now the rats get free reign of the entire cage! crazycritterlife helped me turn the cage into rat Disneyland. 

So beautiful :’) I’m quite proud of my record of convincing people to get rats lol. thatgirlwithalltheanimals, I think you’re the 7th person I’ve talked into it!

caerlean asked:

Thanks so much for sharing your photos and stories! I have had a great interest in raptors since I was a kid, but I was wondering what inspired you to pursue a career in falconry and with animals in general. Did the amount of required training seem overwhelming at first? Did you or do you ever have doubts about your work, and if so what helped you keep on going? Sorry if these are prying questions.

No worries! These are great questions to think about if you’re considering getting into a career with animals. In fact, they’re good to think about before you get into any career! So prepare yourself for a long, detailed response ;)

For me, I’ve always had a deep love for animals, so getting a career with them was never a question for me. Doing anything else with my life just seemed… I don’t know, wrong. Animals are my passion. I never intended to get involved with falconry, however. In middle school, I started going on drives with my dad to look for red-tailed hawks. My interest was sparked by my love for the Animorphs series. He would drive me around, and when we spotted a hawk, we’d pull over. He let me borrow his digital camera and I took great joy in getting as close to the hawk as possible to take its picture. But I was more focused on the photography aspect at that point. Hawks were my focus because they were exciting while still relatively easy to find, but I had just as much fun photographing any other animal we came across.I had no idea falconry was even a thing at that point. In fact, I distinctly remember one time, we were watching a juvenile red-tailed hawk soaring along the hill when a man pulled over in his car and asked us if it was our bird. I remember thinking, “What a dumb question! How could that be our bird? People can’t keep hawks as pets!” lol It wasn’t until 8th grade that I suddenly decided I wanted to learn about raptor identification. I’m not sure what sparked it, exactly. One day I simply decided to teach myself how to do it. I bought ID books and started going out and practicing my ID skills. Then I got involved with the rehabilitation center, which is how I came to meet my falconry sponsor, completely on accident. I really didn’t care much about the falconry aspect at the time. I just wanted to work hands-on with raptors. I thought it was super cool! But over the years I learned what falconry was really about, became connected with the falconry community, and eventually became completely and irreversibly hooked for life ;) 

The amount of training with any new animal can definitely seem overwhelming at first. Balancing falconry with school is incredibly difficult. I’m also a very competitive person. I like to be good at things. But falconry is hard and I’ve had to come to terms with a lot of failure along the way. Its a constant battle for me to focus on the positive aspects and not the negative ones. For example, last season I caught 6 rabbits with Maya. My goal for the season was 5, so that was a huge success! I successfully worked with a wild raptor, caught came during a drought without access to good fields, and beat my goal. We even caught a jack rabbit! I should be proud of that success, and I am! But at the same time, I know a lot of falconers who catch several jack rabbits a week with their red-tails. Compared to them, my season seems pretty insignificant. But if I let myself think that way, it can get extremely discouraging. What I have to focus on is not comparing myself to others, but comparing myself to myself. As long as I continue to improve and learn every year, then I have been successful. That’s what matters, not how I match up to others :) And the same goes for anyone in any aspect of life! 

But even though I tell myself that, it still gets overwhelming at times. A perfect example is me with the new goshawk right now. I’ve never worked with a bird like Kai before and everything is new. I essentially have to throw out all the methods I’ve used before, and that’s stressful! I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and it’s been tough to make progress. At times, I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and go back to red-tails. They’re so much easier! But I am making progress, and that’s what I’m trying to focus on. An imprint tiercel goshawk is one of the most difficult falconry birds to work with, so I have to constantly remind myself to go easy on myself. This is a learning experience. I just need to do the best I can and be proud of my achievements. If I focus on the “failures”, I’ll never make progress, and I certainly won’t have fun!

So basically, when I’m feeling discouraged, here’s what I do to pump myself back up (though its easier said than done!)

1. Stop comparing myself to others. All that matters is that I’m improving and learning.

2. Focus on achievements, not “failures,” and congratulate myself for those! I can even treat myself to something nice as a way to celebrate successes, no matter how small they might be.

3.  Listen to encouraging songs! I literally have a playlist on my ipod labeled “encouraging songs” that I listen to when I’m feeling down. It helps a lot!

4. Talk to others. Sometimes I vent to my falconry friends about the struggles I’m going through, and they vent back about theirs! Or I might call someone with experience in the area I’m struggling with and get advice. A little help can go a long way! I even call my parents on a regular basis and just vent if I want to get things off my chest. It’s a great relief to be able to spew out all the negativity and be met with their comforting words. I love my relationship with my parents and take no shame in calling them regularly :)

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