This is awesome!!! Congratulations!! I just went out with some friends several weekends ago one being a falconer they were flying a Harris Hawk next they are getting a kestrel I believe.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.