My Latest Endeavor...

Tom

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Its taken a long time to jump through all the government hoops and other obstacles, but I am finally realizing my dream of becoming a licensed Falconer. I'm only just beginning my journey, after 20 years of dabbling, but here I go...

I will post lots of pics and keep this thread ongoing, and I invite all discussion about keeping wild animals, hunting, and of course the awesomeness of raptors in general. I find that many people (myself included) are ignorant of what is really going on, and how beneficial to the species falconry is. For example, the Peregrine Falcon was saved from extinction by falconers and falconry, in spite of the dismal failure on the part of government programs to save it. Falconry is VERY different than pet keeping, and it has great benefit for the birds involved who hatch wild and are eventually returned to the wild healthier and better skilled at hunting.

I am now a licensed Apprentice Falconer. I will spend a minimum of two full years as an apprentice working closely under the direct supervision of my sponsor who is a Master Falconer and has been for 10 years. After 2 years, if all goes well, and my sponsor is willing to sign off on my abilities, I will become a General Falconer and be allowed to "fly solo" so to speak.

Enough with the boring words: Here is "Toothless" at our first formal meeting.
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I almost named him "Phoenix" after I saw this picture. Its kind of a big deal to not stare them in the face at close range at first, so I did not know he was looking at me like that. I'm sure if he could have shot fire from his mouth at me, he would have. My sponsor is not 100% sure if this one is male or female. You can usually tell by the weight. This is either a big boy or a small girl as the weight is right in the middle. We will get some behavioral clues as time passes, but we are leaning male at this point. Toothless is a "passage" (meaning this years baby, or worded another way, he hatched this last spring) red-tailed hawk. Buteo jamaicensis.


Here he is on the drive home:
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The hood blocks all the visual stimulation and keeps them a lot calmer and safer during this stressful time. Understand that this 9 month old bird was flying wild minutes before this picture and has never had any previous human contact.

Here he is on his weathering perch on day one, while I prepared the scale for his first weighing and got his mew (hawk house) all ready for him.
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Here we are on day 2 when the old finally came off. This is what I was greeted with.
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We are now on day 5. He began taking food from me on day 2 and I "man" him (handle him on my glove) for several hours a day as part of the desensitization process. I weigh him at least once a day and I am even more fascinated that I imagined I would be. My sponsor assures me he will be free flying and hunting with me in a month or so.

Lots more pics to come. Please ask any questions you might have about falconry or raptors in general. I'm no expert yet, but I know a few things, and I know lots of guys that can answer any questions I don't know the answers to.
 

dmmj

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how long do Falcons live? Varmits ywhere beware.
 

wellington

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That's pretty cool Tom, congrats. Maybe you could come here and train some of the peregrine falcons that fly over my yard and kill my wild bunnies and make me nervous with my torts outside. I love seeing them though.
Can't wait for updates. Be careful, a slip up could be very costly and painful.
 

Tom

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how long do Falcons live? Varmits ywhere beware.
This does depend on the species but most falcons can live 20 years in captivity. Their lifespan in the wild is much shorter.

Red-tail hawks can live almost 30 years in captivity. If they survive their first year in the wild, (most don't) few of them live more than a few years in the wild. The DFW has stats on all this. Its been studied quite a bit.

About 75% of the babies that hatch every year do not make it to winter. Of the ones that survive to their first winter, about 80% of those don't survive winter. As a falconer, we can ONLY trap this year's juveniles and only from October until the end of January. You can easily tell with binoculars at a distance by the plumage. Of the birds that are trapped for falconry, 98+% survive their first winter and are either released back to the wild where they were trapped in a very healthy condition, or kept according to strict guidelines in captivity for future hunting seasons.
 

Tom

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That's pretty cool Tom, congrats. Maybe you could come here and train some of the peregrine falcons that fly over my yard and kill my wild bunnies and make me nervous with my torts outside. I love seeing them though.
Can't wait for updates.
You have peregrines hunting rabbits? I have no experience with them yet, but what I've read reports them to be avian predators. I'm surprised to hear they would go after a rabbit.


Be careful, a slip up could be very costly and painful.
Just like bite work for dogs… Its not a question of "if". Its a question of "when".

He already got me once through a soft spot in the glove.
 

Tom

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If that bird was wild and no human contact before the pics, how was the bird caught?
I made a "bal chatri" trap from scratch. You can look them up on-line easily.

You find the bird you want to try for, set your trap out, drive away and keep your eyes glued on the bird, and let the trap do its work. When you think they are caught, you rush back over and get a hold of their feet, immobilize them and give them a quick exam for any injuries, foot damage, broken feathers, etc. If the birds suits your needs, you can keep it. If not you turn it loose and resume the search.

Toothless hit the trap immediately. We weren't even 50 feet away. He was caught before we could even turn the car around. This sort of aggressiveness and boldness will lend itself very well for what I intend to do with him.

Trapping is a really fun and exciting process. This process is stressful on the bird initially, but the end result is a confident, healthy, strong bird that learns to hunt with the falconer better than what it learned on its own flying around wild for its first 4-5 months after it left the nest.

This whole subject has always interested me, but I had a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about what it really is and what really happens. The more I read and learn the more fascinated I become. I've been able to tag along on a few hunts and what happens out there is amazing.
 

Grandpa Turtle 144

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I made a "bal chatri" trap from scratch. You can look them up on-line easily.

You find the bird you want to try for, set your trap out, drive away and keep your eyes glued on the bird, and let the trap do its work. When you think they are caught, you rush back over and get a hold of their feet, immobilize them and give them a quick exam for any injuries, foot damage, broken feathers, etc. If the birds suits your needs, you can keep it. If not you turn it loose and resume the search.

Toothless hit the trap immediately. We weren't even 50 feet away. He was caught before we could even turn the car around. This sort of aggressiveness and boldness will lend itself very well for what I intend to do with him.

Trapping is a really fun and exciting process. This process is stressful on the bird initially, but the end result is a confident, healthy, strong bird that learns to hunt with the falconer better than what it learned on its own flying around wild for its first 4-5 months after it left the nest.

This whole subject has always interested me, but I had a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about what it really is and what really happens. The more I read and learn the more fascinated I become. I've been able to tag along on a few hunts and what happens out there is amazing.
I'm happy for you when we talked in Mesa this was important to you ! I'll be waiting for your updates . Good luck !
 

wellington

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You have peregrines hunting rabbits? I have no experience with them yet, but what I've read reports them to be avian predators. I'm surprised to hear they would go after a rabbit.




Just like bite work for dogs… Its not a question of "if". Its a question of "when".

He already got me once through a soft spot in the glove.
Well I may be wrong on the peregrine and rabbit. I am more assuming here. I have seen one that was flying my fence line and the only thing out at that time were little chickadee type birds. I found rabbit tufts of hair and a bunny body part of some sort the other day in my yard. It could have been coyote, fox or owl, but I see the Falcons all the time, so figured it had to be them, plus my yard is privacy fenced in, so harder for the others to get in or see in.
 

wellington

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image.jpeg
Back of one of them, right side of pic, sitting on my fence.
Btw, I don't think they like squab (pigeon) The city brought the Falcons in to help with the pigeon over population. It hasn't worked, that was in the 80's they brought them in and the pigeon population has not seem to fallen at all.
 

Tom

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Back of one of them, right side of pic, sitting on my fence.
Btw, I don't think they like squab (pigeon) The city brought the Falcons in to help with the pigeon over population. It hasn't worked, that was in the 80's they brought them in and the pigeon population has not seem to fallen at all.
I'm not an expert, but that long tail suggests a Cooper's Hawk to me. There are actually lots of species of raptors across the country. I'm just now starting to learn to ID all the ones here in the South West.

Pigeons are incredibly strong and agile flyers. Few birds of prey are going to actually catch a healthy pigeon in a chase. The falcon flyers that I work with here are in awe of the pigeon's flying prowess. I'm not surprised that the Peregrines have had no effect on the local pigeon population. No falconer would be, but hey, the government knows best, right? :)
 

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Congrats, they look awesome! I never knew about falconry, but I have been to a raptor watch once, their migration was very amazing.
 

Tom

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Congrats, they look awesome! I never knew about falconry, but I have been to a raptor watch once, their migration was very amazing.
In Malaysia? That would be amazing. Do you have any pics? Do you recall which species you saw? Where were they migrating to and from? I wouldn't think they would need to migrate in such a tropical place.
 

hingeback

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In Malaysia? That would be amazing. Do you have any pics? Do you recall which species you saw? Where were they migrating to and from? I wouldn't think they would need to migrate in such a tropical place.
If I am not mistaken they were migrating from Thailand to Indonesia. Here is just their "resting station". I didn't really get to see the big ones very clearly. ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1453998703.294504.jpg ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1453998719.915143.jpg
Their spiraling was very cool, and according to them 2014's raptor watch had much more(thousands of them). We went last year March, and we saw the beginning of the take of. When we were half way to the top of the hill we saw some starting to take of and by the time we reached the top of the hill there are already quite a lot of them ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1453998981.144857.jpg . Didn't stay for a long time, there were many small raptors flying quite low to the top of the hill.
 

Team Gomberg

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Of the birds that are trapped for falconry, 98+% survive their first winter and are either released back to the wild where they were trapped in a very healthy condition, or kept according to strict guidelines in captivity for future hunting seasons.
So, this means you can choose to release your bird the next year but you don't have to? You can opt to keep and use him year after year?

From my "no knowledge of the subject" perspective, I'd think it's better to stick with the same bird year after year, right?
You establish a relationship that can continue verses starting all over each year with a new bird, right?
Or, is that wrong and you want to use new bird each year to create a stronger wild population?
 

Team Gomberg

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Super cool Tom. :cool:
Back in CA I worked for a lady who did raptor rehab and held a baby once! But other than occasionally thawing mice for those guys,I didn't work around them. It'll be neat to follow along with your adventure.
 

Tom

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If I am not mistaken they were migrating from Thailand to Indonesia. Here is just their "resting station". I didn't really get to see the big ones very clearly.
Their spiraling was very cool, and according to them 2014's raptor watch had much more(thousands of them). We went last year March, and we saw the beginning of the take of. When we were half way to the top of the hill we saw some starting to take of and by the time we reached the top of the hill there are already quite a lot of them. Didn't stay for a long time, there were many small raptors flying quite low to the top of the hill.
This post will now give me hours of fun researching the raptors of Malaysia. Thanks!
 
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