I was absolutely thrilled to see the pictures of Zuko in in the park with the little girls. I'm hoping you've made a lasting impression. I know next to nothing about falconry so please forgive me if this is the world's most stupid question. How do you prevent Zuko from following his/her (?) instincts and going after other small birds when you're out and about like this? Is it all down to good training?
Not a stupid question at all! I find it funny though because I actually have the opposite problem with him! lol I wish he would go after little birds while we’re out flying. I’m doing everything I can to get him to hunt house sparrows and starlings. Unfortunately, he is more interested in catching bugs or coming to the glove for food. But we’re working on it. He’s starting to at least chase birds now so its a good start!
Now that its molting season, I’m not as worried about hunting and I’m mostly just holding on to him so I have a bird to fly and work with. He seems to enjoy life as a falconry bird and he’s a lot of fun to train and fly, so I’m in no rush to release him. But there’s a good chance I’ll release him at the beginning of next season and start with a new bird.
Thanks! lol I named him myself :) It fits him better than I ever would have guessed
Zuko made some new friends at the park today :) They were enthralled by him and had a blast running around the field calling him to the glove for tidbits. It was good exercise for him and certainly good socialization! He’s such a crowd pleaser. By the end, both little girls were asking about falconry and saying they wanted to train birds like Zuko when they were older. We definitely made an impression
I was recently assigned a red-tailed hawk to care for at the zoo where I intern. I have never worked with birds of prey before so I have continued the training the way the keeper before me was doing it. We have worked on trust and she is flying to me and eating on the glove. The issue is he was giving her tidbits out of his hand, so whenever I pick up my hand to grab a jess, or for any other reason, she grabs that hand with her talons., not comfy. Anything you can think of to break this habit?
Ouch! Yeah thats definitely a habit you want to break! A lot of people avoid hand-tidbitting for that very reason. Hand-food association can cause footiness. One thing that helps is slow movements when you reach for the jesses and letting the hawk know that you don’t have food. Watch the hawk’s body language. Is she watching your hand closely? Is she leaning towards your hand? If Maya shows any of these behaviors when I go to pick her up, I’ll stop and wait. I’ll open my hand so she can see there’s no food. I’ll even turn it sometimes so she knows that I’m not hiding anything. When she realizes that I have no food for her, she loses interest and looks away. Only then will I grab the jesses.
The more risky the situation, the more slowly I move; For example, if I’m reaching in with a newer bird, or with a bird thats on a kill. My general rule is to only move in when they’re looking away. If they look at your hand, stop moving it. When they look away, move a little closer. And so on, until you’re where you need to be. I would also stop hand-feeding entirely until the footiness goes away.
Try that and see if it helps! If it still doesn’t work, you might have to start actively training calm behavior to counteract the aggressivenesss. Good luck!
Maya was wild-trapped using a bal-chatri. Its one of the most common methods used by falconers to acquire wild birds. Its essentially a wire dome with a bait animal placed inside. When the hawk comes down after the bait animal, it will often grab at the trap. When it does this, wire slip-nooses entangle the feet and the falconer is able to run in and quickly grab the bird. Then the training begins.
My particular trap looks like the one in the first photo below. I like it because the design allows it to be tossed out the window of a car, meaning you don’t have to get out to set the trap, meaning the hawk that you’re targeting is less likely to be spooked. I also like it because the bait animal doesn’t get hurt . I’ve think I’ve trapped a total of 3 red-tails and 8 kestrels with it.