Klarphotography: Blog http://www.klarphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Klarphotography matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) Fri, 27 Oct 2017 15:21:00 GMT Fri, 27 Oct 2017 15:21:00 GMT http://www.klarphotography.com/img/s/v-5/u229212782-o519596779-50.jpg Klarphotography: Blog http://www.klarphotography.com/blog 94 120 Falconry Friday! Releasing Lily back into the wild http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/10/falconry-friday-releasing-lily-back-into-the-wild Hello again peeps!  

Those of you who've been following the falconry season on Facebook know that our Red Tail of three seasons, Lily, started signaling that she was thinking about moving on.  

Sure, she was still her feisty little self and still behaved the same when handled but you could tell her heart wasn't really in it like in prior years.  This was most evident in the field as a reluctance to follow, less enthusiasm on the chase, and a propensity to wander off on her own.

In the end, it's always the bird's choice as to come back (or not) and Lily clearly had things on her mind beyond just the hunting season.

 

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Once we've made the decision to release her, there are a couple things still to consider: her condition, timing, and release site.

 

As fas as conditioning goes, we want her to be both in decent athletic shape and a bit heavier than her true flying weight on release day.  This means we needed to work her / hunt her for at least a couple weeks at flying weight to build up her conditioning again after the molt followed by a couple days of extra feeding to bump her up 15-20% above her ideal hunting weight. This will give her a "cushion" of energy reserve as it often takes a couple days to re-acclimate to the wild and begin hunting consistently on her own.

 

As to timing and release site, the regulations largely leave this up to the individual falconer's discretion. Our primary concerns here: decent prey availability and decent weather.  This puts the dead of winter right out, but also usually the summer too as we don't want to interfere with a normal molt.  So in practical terms, we're talking about spring and fall at or near peak migration times.

 

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Having checked all the boxes, yesterday was the day!  The place we'd picked out for her is a large (like 30,000 acres) hay farm surrounded by rolling sage hills.  I've trapped birds there before and it's a perfect spot for a fall release.  There is an endless supply of rodents and right now there are probably 400 raptors staging there. She'll be able to stay over the winter if she likes (about 50 or so do) or follow along on the main migration.

 

Here are a few pics of our last time out:

 

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Here is the release video and a couple post-release pics. I followed her along for about a quarter mile until she'd found a good high perch, then left her there.

 

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She's always been just about the most photogenic animal I've ever been around and I'll leave you with my favorite portrait of her (and one of my fav pics of all time):

 

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Good luck Lily!

 

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/10/falconry-friday-releasing-lily-back-into-the-wild Fri, 27 Oct 2017 15:19:23 GMT
Falconry Friday! Hello Again from the Sagebrush Steppe! http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/10/falconry-friday-hello-again-from-the-sagebrush-steppe Hello again everyone!  The 2017 falconry season is well underway with the girls closing in on the three dozen jackrabbit mark now.

This season is shaping up to be quite the challenge - many of our favorite spots fell to wildfires over the summer and so we've had to scramble to find new hunting areas.  The weather has also been atypically awful for early fall with temps consistently in the 20*s and a nearly constant wind.

 

Nonetheless, the HAHAs continue to shine!  I do not intend to post weekly this year, but will episodically update everyone as the season progresses.

 

For now, here are a few portraits from September:

 

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Early exuberance = broken T-perch:

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/10/falconry-friday-hello-again-from-the-sagebrush-steppe Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:27:52 GMT
Falconry Friday! Coming Full Circle - An overview of the Breeding Season http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/3/falconry-friday-coming-full-circle---an-overview-of-the-breeding-season Hello again peeps!  As many of you know, I volunteer as a moderator for a number of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Live streaming raptor nest cams.

The raptor nesting season typically runs from mid-March to early July each year and my time commitments there will make continuing this weekly blog rather challenging.  As such, I think this will be the last regular Falconry Friday installment until we start flying again in August. I'll continue to periodically post updates on the progress of Cedric the GHO (he came to the glove for food for the first time yesterday!) as well as any other interesting topics that crop up (pun intended).

 

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In many ways, this post does bring us full circle - we started in August 2016 with a newly captured juvenile hawk  and followed her through her first year hunting as a falconry bird.  This post will serve as an outline for how that hawk made it from an amorous wink to egg to fledgling to the present.

 

Given that Cornell's red tailed hawks Big Red and Ezra are the stars of the show, we'll use red tails living in the northern latitudes for the following timeline .  

For those interested in the historical timetable data for their five previous on-camera nesting seasons, this handy table was produced by  Cornell volunteer Elly K. 

Also by Elly K. , here is a photo essay on identifying Big Red (the female) and Ezra (the male).

And here are two maps of the nesting area on the Cornell Campus:  map #1   ,    map #2

Finally, see Cornell's RT nest FAQ Page for additional questions not covered below.

(Image credit for the nesting photos below:  Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2013-2016)

 

Mating and Nesting

 

Most hawks in the northern U.S. will begin establishing a territory and courting as early as January.  This will be followed by mating multiple times in late February and early March.  Nest site selection is initially the male's responsibility and he will typically have 1-3 locations selected to present to the female, who will make the final decision on the current year's site.

 The pair will begin nest building in earnest in early March with most of their on-nest activity occurring in the mornings.  They will begin building (or refurbishing) the nest platform with locally harvested sticks, arranging them into the form of a nest cup.  As egg laying approaches, they will begin supplementing the stick deliveries first with strips of bark that will be worked into the nest cup to form a soft, insulated bowl for the eggs.  Finally (and continuing through incubation) they will further supplement the nest cup with fresh evergreens, which serve two functions:  (1) to advertise the nest's occupancy and (2) evergreens have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic properties thought to help protect the youngsters-to-be.

 

Egg Laying and Development

Most hawks in the northern U.S. will lay from one to three eggs, with kestrels and ferruginous hawks being the clear outliers laying up to six eggs.

The first egg is typically laid in mid-March with subsequent eggs laid approximately 4 days apart.  This interim period is often referred to as soft incubation in that the parents are keeping the eggs warm enough to preserve viability but not warm enough to begin internal development of the embryo.

 

Hard incubation begins with the last egg laid and will keep the nest cup at 98*F and 43% humidity for the duration of the 28-40 day incubation period.  The nest cup at this stage is just large enough the adult hawk's body to form a tight cap on top.  Most of the incubation will be performed by the female.  The male will bring food to the nest, which the female will typically eat off-site - absences that give the male his only real "nest time".

During incubation, the parents will rotate the eggs every couple hours -- a vital function given that the membranes surrounding the embryo within the egg (the chorion and allantois) will fuse and kill the embryo were the egg to be left stationary.

 

The following is a synopsis of the embryo's development within the egg during this  incubation period:

 

--The allantoic membrane develops very early in incubation. It originates in the embryo's developing G.I. tract and protrudes out through the umbilicus, fusing with a second membrane (the chorion) which envelopes both the embryo and the yolk sac.  Together, they provide the embryo with it's oxygen supply via diffusion through the shell, along the blood vessels lining the chorioallantoic membrane, through the umbilicus, and into the embryo's bloodstream.

--The embryo's heart starts to beat within 72 hours of the start of hard incubation. Initially the heart has only two chambers, but quickly differentiates into four chambers.

--By day 11, the embryo has doubled in size, the ear opening is visible, and the skin has taken on a texture that delineates the future feather tracts (pterylae). The bones of the skull and the feet are also becoming visible.

 

--By day 12, tail feathers are visible and by day 14 feathers cover most of the embryo's body.

 

--By day 15-16, the beak has hardened and the attached egg tooth has formed, the leg scales are present, and ratio between body and limb size is balancing out.

 

--By day 18 the albumin supply has been exhausted and the embryo's sole nutrition source is now the yolk sac.

 

--By day 10-20 the eyelids are fully formed and the embryo turns it's head towards the large end of the egg, beak under right wing, with feet drawn up.

 

--During this time, the embryo has drawn some calcium from the shell as well as lost a fair amount of moisture through diffusion -- the egg actually weighs less now that at the start of incubation!  An air space has developed outside of the chorioallantoic membrane but within the shell due to this loss of fluid.

 

--Soon the yolk sac will be drawn into the abdomen and the umbilicus will close. The chorion no longer provides enough oxygen to the embryo and carbon dioxide begins to build up.  This build up of carbon dioxide causes the embryo's neck muscles to twitch, which in turn causes the egg tooth on the beak to puncture the chorionic membrane, allowing the embryo to breathe in the air space within the shell.  Hatching has begun and can take up to 72 hours to complete, although 36 hours is more typical!

 

-- Carbon dioxide continues to accumulate (up to 10% concentration within the air space compared to 3% in the atmosphere) which causes more vigorous neck muscle twitching.  This twitching hammers the egg tooth on the beak against the now thinner eggshell. As the embryo shifts in position, the egg tooth cuts a circular path around the large end of the egg, forming a cap that will eventually break loose freeing the embryo from the shell.

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Nestling growth and development

At hatching (typically in mid to late April), the new nestling will be covered in wet down that will quickly dry to a whitish fluff (called the natal down).  All three embryos will typically hatch within a 3-4 day period and at this stage they are at their most vulnerable to temperature fluctuations.  The parents will continue to cover them in the nest cup, maintaining a temperature of 98*F and a relative humidity of 78%.

 

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The newly hatched nestlings will typically eat their first morsels of food within 12 hours, but this is not critical as their internalized yolk sac remnant provides energy for up to 48 hours post-hatch.  Early on, the parents will feed the nestlings about every two hours and their first castings will occur by about day 5.

 

The male parent will ramp up hunting activity to stock the nest with food, providing, on average, just under two pounds of food per day throughout the 45 day period from hatch to fledge.  Here is a summary of one year's prey deliveries to the nest, closely mirroring the published data of 70% mammalian prey, 24% avian prey, and 1-3% other.

 

Between day 5 and 10, the white natal down has been supplemented with the grayish true down, greatly enhancing the nestling's ability to regulate it's body temperature.

 

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The eyes will be fully functional and the egg tooth will fall off by the end of the second week.

Once the wings are long enough, usually soon after day 14, the primary feathers will begin to emerge.  This is the only time of a raptor's life that all the feathers will grow at once and they can grow quite quickly too - up to a half-inch per day under ideal conditions.

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Between days 25-45, the nestlings will become increasingly active on the nest site, flapping their wings to develop flight muscles, learning to stand, walk, and feed themselves with food supplied by the parents.

 

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They will typically fledge (leave the nest) around 42-45 days (late June).  

 

Fledging and the first few months away from the nest

 

Once fledged, they will remain in the immediate vicinity of the nest for up to a month. 

Their activity level will double within this time, first by simple perch to perch direct flights as their parents continue to provide food.

The parents will gradually move food drop locations further from the nest site until the fledglings are at the hunting grounds -- at first  observing their parents in action, then actively participating in the hunt themselves.

The parents will continue to provide food and hunting lessons for up to six months post-fledging but most often the juveniles are booted from the parent's territory and on their own by early fall (August or September, bringing us full circle). 

 

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Anndddd....that's a wrap!  I hope you've enjoyed the series and I hope to see everyone again for the 2017 season in August!  In the meantime, please do stop by the Cornell web cam site as that's where we'll be from now until July!

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/3/falconry-friday-coming-full-circle---an-overview-of-the-breeding-season Fri, 10 Mar 2017 14:53:26 GMT
Falconry Friday! Falconry Furniture Part 3 http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/3/falconry-friday-falconry-furniture-part-3 Hi Again everyone!  This will be the third and final installment of the Falconry Furniture series.  In Part 1 we talked about anklets, jesses, leash extenders, and swivels. Part 2 was mostly about leashes and leash attachment mechanisms.  Today we'll finish up with a couple comments about carrying leashed raptors and round out the series with bells & bewits, transmitters, and hoods.

 

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Gloves are pretty self-explanatory and we won't spend a ton of time on them. They're sold in singles (left or right), half-length or full-length, insulated or not, several thicknesses, and all the usual hand sizes. They're most often made from elk, deer, or cowhide.  What I do want to focus on regarding gloves is shown in the picture below. See that D ring ?  That's for tying your bird off so it doesn't escape.  Use this EVERY SINGLE TIME you're out with the bird and it's not okay if she takes off.

 

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Laziness gets the best of us all and the tendency is to wrap the leash a few turns around your ring and pinky finger, calling it good.  I mean, you're holding on, right?  Well, I can guarantee you WILL let go when she spooks and has all 8 talons buried in your face.  Sooner or later, it will happen to you so get in the habit of clipping in. Every time.

 

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Now she's loose,  with her legs tied together by the swivel and trailing a three foot leash behind her.  This is a death sentence, and a pretty gruesome one at that.

 

Traditionally (and still a valid option) you'd tie the leash off to the D ring with a falconer's knot.  Better yet is a clip system as shown below.

 

On the left is a commercial French style clip and on the right is a standard carabiner-style clip.

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These clips make it easy enough that there's no excuse for you to fail to have the hawk clipped in when she's not actively flying.  Clip in every time!.

 

This clip is what those pin holes in the flying jesses mentioned in Part 1 are for.  They're small enough openings that they do not snag on branches but are  just big enough to accommodate the clip. In this scenario, her legs are not tied together by a swivel with flight jesses, but it sure saves you from the chase you'd have if she took off with a full crop on the way back to the car!

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With a leashed bird, clipping in to the D ring is absolutely imperative. Do it every time!  Regardless of the leash system you're using, clip into the BOTTOM ring of the swivel. This gives you a solid anchor point yet still allows the swivel to do it's thing and keep the jesses from tangling.

 

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While not technically "furniture", the creance (training long-line) is tied to the jesses (never a swivel) the same way -- with a falconer' knot.  The creance is most likely to fail at the attachment point and if it's tied to a swivel we now have a loose bird with her legs tied together. Not good.  If it's tied directly to the jesses, she may be loose but at least she can survive!

 

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Bells and Bewits.

 

Bells are a great help in locating an out-of-sight bird in the field. Pakistani style bells are the most popular.  They're sold in pairs, with one a slightly higher tone than the other.  This theoretically aids in sound transmission over distance but I find two bells to be overkill and assign one tone per bird so I can tell who's who and who's where even if I can't see them. (Guess which two bells are the used ones in this picture!)

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Those funny little leather strips on the left of the above picture are called Bewits. They're essentially miniature removable Aylmeri anklets for attaching bells, transmitters, I.D. tags, etc. on a raptor's leg above the main anklet.  Here's how they work:

 

Feed the pointed end through the loop on the bell

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Then pass the pointed end through the small hole closest to the button end of the bewit

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When tightened, it firmly incorporates the object (bell) yet at the same time prevents the object (bell) from contacting the leg itself. This is important not only it terms of preventing rubbing, but also frostbite -- metal gets really cold in the winter and can freeze skin on contact.

 

Next, wrap the bewit around the leg and feed the button through the slit.  Presto!  It's attached!

 

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The downsides of using the bewit for attachment:  (a) bulk - weights adds up fast with things on both legs and (b) they're easily undone by the bird and you'll spend a lot of time searching for your $250 transmitter(s) in the brush.

 

An alternative is to use small zip ties to attach the bell (and transmitter) to the main anklets.  Not super stylish, but lightweight and fast.

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Keep in mind that you'll want to zip tie in to one arm only if you're using true Aylmeri anklets. If you zip tie both arms, you're effectively defeating the purpose of using true Aylmeri anklets in the first place!

 

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Transmitters

 

We've already seen above how we'll attach a transmitter using the leg mount method and here's an in-the-field view of that (using a true bewit, before she learned to unhook them):

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The two other common transmitter attachment mechanisms are back pack (Marshall Track Pack) and tail mount.  Let's look at the back pack first.

Most of us have seen that transmitter magically floating on a raptors back like so:

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The backpack is basically a plastic plate that's about 3/4" x 1-1/2".  It's permanently attached to the bird with a piece of teflon tubing. With the plate held along the back, the teflon tubing loops over the head, crosses in the front, and is fed under the wings to the back, where it's crimped in place with a little brass ring. The bird preens the tubing under the feathers and the plate rides on the back immediately between the wings.

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The spring arms seen attached to the back of the transmitter above fit through, and catch on, a hole in the top of the backplate like so (this is how you take the transmitter on and off while leaving the backpack on the bird):

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Here is a short video showing track pack installation on a raptor:

The tail mount attaches in much the same way (using the same spring arms on the transmitter side) except the loop the spring arms slip through is much smaller and is crimped onto a tail feather as seen in this video:

 

The tail mount is my least favorite as the transmitter is a (relatively) large weight on that particular tail feather and pulling the feather out in the brush is a real possibility.

 

Hoods

 

The hood is the last piece of furniture we'll look at, and the one I'm probably least qualified to discuss at length so we'll keep this pretty basic.  The main function of the hood is to keep the bird calm. Vision is the diurnal raptor's primary sense and no sight = no stress.

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 Fit is, of course, very important and hoods come in about 40-50 different sizes. They're measured in terms of the greatest distance across the head (the eyes) when looking down at the bird from above. In the U.S. / English system, this means size 000 (sharpie) to 00 (kestrel) on up t o 24 (large red tail), then up to 39 for the largest eagles.  In the metric system, this translates as size 35mm (kestrels) up to 66mm (ferugies), then on to 80mm for the eagles.   Confused yet?  Here's a chart showing the differing measuring systems.

 

There's some trial and error in finding the proper fit and some hood styles even have adjustable chin straps to fine tune the hood to the individual bird.

 Having said that, there are many styles of hood with the Arabian (solid back), Pakistani (sometimes solid back), and Dutch (inverted "V" closure in the back) being most popular.  Dutch style hoods are, in my experience, the most common style in the U.S.  The Dutch (and Arabian) hoods are glued or stitched using forming blocks called Mollen blocks.  We'll talk mostly about Dutch style hoods for the remainder of this, but here's a good explanation of some of the other styles if you're interested. Well-made hoods are a fine art and a number of falconers have become well known worldwide for their craftsmanship.

 

Here we see two open Dutch hoods, size 0 (kestrel) on the left and size 24 (red tail) on the right.  Note that on each side is one strap (called a brace) with a knot and one without.

 

Open DRAWS the braces (closes them) by pulling on the knots and one STRIKES the braces (opens them) by pulling on the braces without the knots.  How do you do that one handed?  You use your free hand for one side and your teeth for the other --- you really do need to like the people you share hoods with!

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Here we see both hoods in the closed position DSC08240DSC08240

 

Frontal view of the beak opening.  Fine tuning can be accomplished here by trimming or curling the leather on the sides of this triangle.  We can also see the top knot well in this photo - more that just decoration, this serves as a "handle" to guide the hood on and off the bird's head. DSC08241DSC08241

 

There we go!  That rounds out this series on Furniture!  Thanks for seeing it through to the end, so to speak!   :)

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/3/falconry-friday-falconry-furniture-part-3 Fri, 03 Mar 2017 14:49:14 GMT
Falconry Friday! Falconry Furniture, Part Two http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/2/falconry-friday-falconry-furniture-part-Two Hello again everyone!  Today we'll continue our discussion of Falconry furniture -- the equipment that the raptor actually wears day to day.  Last week we spent quite a bit of time on anklets, jesses, and swivels (link here for a refresher).  Today we'll focus on leash systems as there's a bit of a learning curve with them and I've meant to put together something like this for some time.

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By way of quick review, we've installed either modified or true Aylmeri anklets, jesses, leash extender, and swivel and now we'll introduce the leash, which serves as the link between the swivel and the perch ring.

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In it's most traditional form, the leash is simply a length of leather, with either a slit or a button at the swivel end:

 

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Leather is probably the weakest of the leash materials in common use and a falconer's knot in a leather leash is a bit bulky. As a result, most falconers have moved on to other materials.

 

Braided nylon leashes are by far the most commonly used in modern falconry. Nylon is very strong, impervious to water, and easy to manufacture.  (As I mentioned last week, they're also very abrasive by nature and snag on everything.  As such, they're my least favorite material). 

In it's most basic form, a nylon leash is simply a length of braided cord with a loop at one end:

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This loop is attached to the swivel ring with a Girth hitch:

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Nylon leashes can also be be made or purchased with integral swivels (pink leash), sometimes even with a built-in leash extender too (black leash on top):

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All leashes of this style are attached to the perch ring with a falconer's knot.  We'll walk through how to tie this knot is a minute, but WHERE we tie this knot along the leash is critically important - the length of the leash between the swivel and the knot should not be longer than the length from the anklets to the swivel and the total length of the system should not be more than the overall height of the bird.  Long leash = broken leg.   As we can see in this radiograph, a leash tied too long allows a "running start" to a bate and a tibiotarsal fracture is the usual result:

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Here are two leash systems, one for a kestrel/merlin sized raptor and one for a red-tail sized raptor.  The appropriate knot location is marked with tape on each:

 

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Enter: the falconer's knot.  Learning how to tie this bugger is usually one of the earliest skills a new apprentice learns and, for some reason, gives many people fits.  It is basically just a slip knot - I think having to learn to tie it one-handed is what throws newbies for a loop. (Remember, your bird is usually sitting on your non-dominant hand so many things a falconer is tasked with are accomplished one-handed.)

 

Here we go!  With the bird on your non-dominant fist, feed the leash OVERHAND through the perch ring (bird side is on TOP, leash tail is on the BOTTOM).

Grip that bottom leash tail between your index and middle fingers:

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Your thumb goes OVER the upper bird-side length: DSC08200DSC08200

 

Through the gap between the two lengths and UNDER the tail-side length:

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Catching that tail-side length with your thumb, pivot your wrist while allowing 2-3" of tail to feed through your index-middle finger:

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Bring your index finger over the top of the whole mess to meet your thumb, creating a loop around your thumb:

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Pull the tail through the loop ( ie., slide that loop off your thumb towards your index finger):

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Pull the tail through that thumb loop and there's your knot !:

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For additional safety, feed the tail back through the loop:

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It's much easier to visualize with a video:

 

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Okay, so your bird has learned to untie this knot (don't laugh - two of our four birds can untie any knot in under 5 minutes). Now what?

 

There are a couple knot-less leash designs and we're going to have to go with one of those from here on out.

 

The older of the two I'm going to describe is the Fox loop leash , named after the author and biologist Nick Fox, who's Understanding the Bird of Prey should already be on every falconer's bookshelf.  It'a an ingenious solution to the bird-that-can-untie-knots problem, but is not necessarily intuitive to use (Apprentices that have falconer's knot anxiety tend to go into a full blown panic attack when they first see one).

 

Let's walk through it.

 

As you can see, it has a standard slit/loop at the tail end and a second in-line loop at the swivel end (also note that it's non-adjustable for length -- you have to buy (or make) the correct size):

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Feed the leash through the swivel ring to the top knot:

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Feed the tail through the perch ring

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Now the tricky part:  feed the tail BACK THROUGH THE SWIVEL RING so that both lengths go through the swivel

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Slip the tail loop OVER the top knot/button

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And slide the tail back through the swivel ring (now you can see we have a Girth hitch at the perch ring)

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Fold the button over the swivel ring and through the in-line loop at the button end (not critical, but good to do for safety)

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Untying:  Unhook the button loop and start feeding the tail back up towards the swivel ring

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Feed it back THROUGH the swivel ring and over the top knot/button

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Back over the button

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Again, here's the video:

 

Fox Leash 3

 

The final leash system, and my favorite,  I mentioned last week:  Jim Coughlin's Bullet Jess System.  This leash / jess combo uses strong braided nylon cord sheathed in vinyl casing. It's very strong, has a very smooth surface, and maintains it's shape so that it doesn't catch or wrap around objects.  The ends have an Aluminum toggle that just fits through the brass grommet.  They can't be used with birds that bite at the leash or jesses (beak chipping will occur) but most adult birds will do just fine with this system. It's also much, much faster than the Fox loop leash for those birds who can untie knots.

 

The jess combo showing the toggles at the anklet end and the loop for the swivel at the other end (note the set screw):

 

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Assembled with a swivel, it looks like this:

 

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Simply loosen the set screw, feed some cord to the toggle, and slip the toggle through the anklet grommet (or perch ring grommet), snug up the toggle, and re-tighten the set screw.  They're super-fast.

 

Here's the video (using the jess for demonstration purposes but the concept is the same for both the perch and bird ends):

 

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Whew!  Another long one !  Sorry for the brain freeze, but paying close attention to these little details is important for our raptor's health and comfort.  I think we'll finish up with tethering and the remaining furniture next week.  For now, a few birds to enjoy:

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/2/falconry-friday-falconry-furniture-part-Two Fri, 24 Feb 2017 14:55:05 GMT
Falconry Friday! Falconry Furniture, Part One http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/2/falconry-friday-falconry-furniture-part-one Hi peeps!  Furniture is a medieval term referring to any piece of equipment that the falconry raptor actually wears and we'll take a look at some of that stuff in more detail now.  This will be a bit lengthy due to a large number of images so I think we'll break it up into two or three parts.  Today let's look at the anklet-jess-leash systems.

 

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The anklets

 

The anklets serve as attachment points for the jesses. They're worn a majority of the time and, because they serve to transfer the bating force directly to the legs, a fair amount of thought (not to mention regulation) has gone into their development.

 

First off: materials.  While synthetic materials like biothane are in vogue in some circles, the majority of anklets will be leather - and a very specific leather at that.  Kangaroo is the preferred source (yep! the Australian ones with the pouches) because it is very thin, very strong, tear resistant, and has minimal stretch.  One can buy half or whole Kangaroo hides in three standard thicknesses suitable for any sized raptor save for eagles (for whom cowhide is commonly used).  Further, most commercially available leather is tanned using Chromium salts -- great for water resistance but highly toxic and not at all suitable for falconry.  The kangaroo leather sold specifically for falconry is vegetable or bark-tanned and usually not dyed.

 

A half kangaroo hide, medium weight, suitable for red tail sized raptors. This may be a lifetime supply for a single bird.

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Necessary tools:  a straight edge, a marker, a sharp blade, and a leather punch

 

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Anklets come (by law in the U.S.) in two basic flavors:  Modified Aylmeri and True Aylmeri, so named after the design by Major Guy Aylmeri, a Brittish falconer stationed in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in the early 1900s.

 

The Modified Aylmeri anklet uses modern brass grommets  and are by far the most common design in use.  The brass grommet permanently attaches the anklet to the bird's leg and you'll need a separate grommet setter (as you can see, really a modified Vise-Grip pliers) for each grommet size in use -- 1/4" and 5/16" are by far the most common sizes with 11/64" used for very small falcons like American Kestrels.

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The anklet is sized to be tall enough to distribute forces from a bate but not so tall as to trap debris against the leg skin -- 1 to 1.5 leg-widths tall is about right -- and just snug enough to rotate freely when new (they will stretch a little).

 

I like to set the grommet seat in the first hole and use it to measure length (note the imprint marking the location of the second hole):

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Also note the cuts along the top and bottom edges on both the new and used anklets -- this allows the edges to roll over, creating a smooth, rounded edge that does not cause irritation:

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Finally, lightly oil with non-toxic oil prior to application (I like olive oil for this).  The anklet on the right has been oiled, darkening the leather.

 

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True Aylmeri anklets do NOT use grommets and are, as a result, removable without cutting the anklet.  Here is a slightly over-sized pair I keep in my hawking bag for emergencies:

 

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The two outer holes mate up and are analogous to the grommet hole while the inner hole + notch are spaced to fit the hawk's leg like so:

 

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This way the anklet does not over-tighten with bating - the notch maintains spacing.

 

Jesses:

 

Jesses also come in two flavors:  Field (with no hole or a very small hole at the end)and Mews (with a slit large enough to feed a swivel through)

 

The genius of the Aylmeri system lies in the jess design.  Prior to Guy Aylmeri's invention, the anklet-jess system was often one piece and they often either broke or over-tightened.

 

Here are the Kangaroo leather Aylmeri flight jesses our HAHA's have used for four years now:

 

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The key is the knot on the left that acts as a stopper to keep the jess in place.  (more on the pin hole on the right later).  

 

Here's how to make them:

 

Cut to length, square at one end and sharply tapered at the other.  Fold the square end over 3-4 times and punch a hole through all 4 layers:

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Keep the holes lined up and feed the sharp end through the holes:

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pull tight and boom!  you're done!

 

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Recently, braided nylon jesses have become popular -- they're inexpensive and super strong but they're not my favorite because they're abrasive and prone to snagging on every little thing.

 

Note the much larger slits at the end compared to the field jesses above.

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Finally, a new system uses a toggle button and a length of strong nylon cord inside a flexible vinyl sheath.  These are Jim Coughlin's bullet jesses and are a favorite of mine.  The button end toggles into and out of the anklet hole and the loop end attaches to the swivel. The set screw keeps them tight and the vinyl sheath maintains it's shape -- ie. it does not tangle or wrap around obstacles.

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Swivels

 

A swivel is also a practical (and legal) requirement , serving to keep the jesses from twisting and tangling as the bird moves about.  Here are a variety of swivels, sized for kestrels up to eagles with the middle Sampo style being the most popular (the stem end goes towards the bird and the barrel end towards the leash!)

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Here there is a little overlap in describing the parts of the system and we need to introduce something new:  the leash extender.

 

See, we want the swivel to be far enough down the line that it doesn't contact the tail feathers but just making the jesses longer doesn't work.  

 

Think of the whole system as a "Y" with the jesses making up the "arms" and the leash representing the "stem".  The swivel is where they meet.  If the jesses (arms) are too long the bird will tangle up in them and injure herself.  Jesses shouldn't be longer than the bird's tibiotarsus -- about 3" for a kestrel or merlin and no more than 6-7" for a red tail.

 

 Enter the leash extender -- a 3" to 5" length of leash material with loops at both ends. One end attaches to the jesses and the other to the swivel, moving the swivel 3-5" further down the "stem" without making the "arms" of the "Y" longer.

 

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Installed, they look like this:  (kestrel set up on top, red tail on bottom)

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Putting all that together might not be intuitive, so let's break it down.

 

--Attach the anklets (I prefer smooth side towards the leg)

--With bird facing you and the grommet pointed towards the rear, feed the jesses from outside to inside through the anklet hole so that the jess knot is on the outside and the ends of the jesses are coming between the bird's legs towards you

--From here feed both jesses through either the leash extender or swivel (remember, stem side towards the bird!):

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--Now open the slits in the jesses and feed the swivel / leash extender through the slits in BOTH jesses (this is why the slits are as long as then are):

 

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--Pull tight  (Here we can see why those little tails are there on the jesses / leash extender. The system cinches down really tightly over time and those tails are invaluable in loosening things up again.)

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--Loop the leash through the other ring of the swivel (the barrel end).

 

In taking it apart (as in when you switch to field jesses), you can feed the whole leash/swivel/extender system through the jess slits in one swoop:

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Leashes are, at their most basic, a length of leather or braided nylon with a slit (leather) or loop (nylon) at one end that attaches to the swivel as above.

 

 This is becoming long enough already, so let's save a discussion of leashes for next time and wrap this up today by looking at the Aylmeri and Bullet jess systems in actual use.

 

Aylmeri field jesses with bells attached

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Mews Bullet jesses (and leash) -- note NEW anklets in image #1, properly rolled anklets in image #2, leash toggle with ring tab grommet in image #3

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Nylon jesses and leash extender

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Leather jesses and leash extender, nylon leash

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/2/falconry-friday-falconry-furniture-part-one Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:17:28 GMT
Falconry Friday! Feathers, Daylight, and Molting http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/2/falconry-friday-feathers-daylight-and-molting Hi all!  Now that the hunting season is over and our hawks are starting the molt I thought we'd take a closer look at the molting process as well as feathers in general.

 

Up until fairly recently , there was quite a bit of "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" debate about feathers: 

Did dinosaurs have feathers? (yes)

Are birds living dinosaurs? (yes)

Who else has the genes for feather production? (pretty much everyone - including humans)

 

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Recent fossil finds, especially in China, show feather prevalence many millions of years before birds took to the air and DNA studies have shown that feather production is genetically well preserved across many non-avian genera (including us).  This genetic prevalence across the animal kingdom supports the notion that the genetic basis for feather growth pre-dates birds (and even dinosaurs).  So, while we all have the genes, we don't seem to have the on-off switches - leaving modern birds the only ones capable of growing actual feathers.

 

As many of you will recall from the following chart, feathers (15%) are a larger portion of a bird's weight than the skeleton (11%). Growing them initially, and replacing them annually, represents an enormous energy commitment!

 

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Raptor Composition by weight:

  • 15% Feathers
  • 11% Bone
  • 17% Breast muscle
  • 10% skin
  • 10% Fat
  • 10% Leg muscle
  • 9% Wing muscle
  • 18% Combined Organs

 

 

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The number of individual vaned feathers varies by species - from a low of around 1,000 for hummingbirds to as many as 25,000 for large waterfowl like swans (most raptors fall in the 7,000-10,000 feather range).  Regardless, each individual feather grows in the same way: as a helix, or spiral, from a temporary keratin sheath.  As the feather elongates, new barbs are laid down onto the main vane (rachus) by a germinal collar. As the feather reaches full length, the germinal collar lays down the solid quill (calamus). For the long flight feathers, this process takes around 6-10 weeks.

Here is an illustration of this growth from Thor Hanson's excellent book Feathers :

 

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And here are a few photos of the new feather emerging from the temporary sheath as it grows:

 

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In this way, subsequent feathers are continuous with their predecessors - the new feather pushes the old one out as it grows in a continuous string. This also explains why, if a mature feather is traumatically pulled from it's soft tissue sheath, it may not regrow -- the feather's artery and germinal collar may be too damaged to produce new keratin.

Alternately, a damage feather follicle may produce a defective feather, either just once or permanently.

 

A good example of transient damage is the presence of "stress marks" or "hunger traces".  These weak spots along the feather shaft are the result of a nutritional deficiency during feather growth that effect the current feather(s) but not necessarily future ones.

 

More permanent defects can sometimes be caused by a West Nile virus infection during feather growth - these feathers will often slough at the keratin sheath with replacements in subsequent years bearing a defect at that stage of growth (as in Stanley the Hellgate Osprey's wonky flight feather).

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While the growth of each individual feather is the same, the pattern of growth is very different for adults as compared to hatchlings.

 

Hatchlings:

 

The first feather growth (natal down) actually occurs while the embryo is still developing within the egg. This whitish fluff dries quickly upon hatching and serves as the hatchling's initial insulation.  This is quickly (around day 10) supplemented with (but not replaced by) the grayish true down.  Once the legs and wings have grown long enough to support feather development, the vaned feathers appear -- pushing out the natal down feathers as described above.  This is the only time in a bird's life she'll grow all her feathers at once. By 6-8 weeks of age, growth is complete (full summed) and the calamus is solid (hard penned).  For most raptors, this first set of feathers is somewhat longer (by 1/3-1/2" apiece) than the adult feathers will be and are usually dullish browns on top and mottled whites underneath, thought to help camouflage  these inexperienced youngsters - both from predators (above) as well as prey(below).

 

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Adult molting

 

Adult raptors molt once a year, usually starting in June and finishing in September or October.  Three things seem to be necessary to initiate the molt, all of which can be manipulated to start the molt early or even, as is often the case with demonstration birds, reverse molt:

  • adequate body condition - usually 10-15% above ideal flying weight (remember, this is an energy-intensive process)
  • moderating temperatures - losing down=losing insulation so warmer temps are part of the equation
  • increasing daylight - this seems to be the primary trigger for initiating the molt (around 15 daylight hours)

 

Adults typically do not replace 100% of their flight feathers in any given year -- it is usually not until a raptor's 3rd or 4th year that she has a complete set of adult primary feathers.  Interestingly, this trait allows some degree of "aging" a raptor between the full juvenile and full adult plumages in those first few years of life.  Jerry Ligouri has a nice pictorial at Hawk Watch International using this method to age Golden Eagles.

Here is a motly looking Dora, I think at her second molt, showing a mix of juvenile, adult, and emerging adult primaries:

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Bird nerdiness: Kestrels will actually undergo a partial molt around 6 months of age (November-December) and can look very similar to adults even to experienced birders.

 

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Adult raptors replace their primary feathers a couple at a time, so as to be able to continue flying and hunting in the interim.  The next one will not start until the first one is 2/3 grown.

There is supposedly a pattern to how they replace the primaries but I've never seen any individual bird actually follow the "rule" we all had to memorize.  Here is said pattern, in case your bird can read the textbook:

  • Body feathers -- fairly random, about a quarter to a third at a time
  • Secondary feathers -- start in the middle and progress to both ends
  • Tail feathers -- start in the center and progress outward
  • Primary flight feathers (falcons) -- start and #4 and progress in both directions
  • Primary flight feathers (hawks) -- start at #1 (body side) and progress outward

 

note the emerging red tail feathers as well as reddish body feathers:

 

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Anyhow, after a couple molts one ha quite a few feathers lying about (for imping, of course):

 

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You gotta be quick though as they LOVE to play with molted feathers:

 

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here is a comparison of Harris' Hawk tail and wing feathers, with the juvenile pattern on the left and adult on the right:

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Finally, since we are talking about plumage afterall, here are a series of juvenile and adult hawks:

 

Red Tail, juvenile, second year, 10+ years:

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Harris' Hawks

 

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GHO

 

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Goshawk:

 

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and Prairie Falcon  (juvie right)

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/2/falconry-friday-feathers-daylight-and-molting Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:58:49 GMT
Falconry Friday! Throwback edition http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/2/falconry-friday-throwback-edition Morning peeps!  The weather is still not cooperating in terms of hunting opportunity and we're still playing catch-up after unexpected travel. I finally started reading Helen MacDonald's book "H is for Hawk" on the trip and it got me to thinking about when our own birds were youngsters.

In the coming weeks I intend to circle back around to a couple of equipment posts as well as continuing with the Owl's training but for today I'm looking back a few years to when all our hawks were babies.

 

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And since I mentioned Helen MacDonald and her Goshawk, here are a couple photos of a friend's Goshawk, first in her juvenile year, then in her second year:

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/2/falconry-friday-throwback-edition Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:15:12 GMT
Falconry Friday! Some favorites from the 2016 season http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/1/falconry-friday-some-favorites-from-the-2016-season Hey peeps!  It's STILL snowing!  We've had more snow and more days below 10*F here than we've had in many a year. We're over 200 inches now with almost 8 weeks left in the snow-year. It's put a damper on our ability to get out and hunt, but nearly all of Utah is >150% of normal water right now after years of drought --a little silver lining I suppose.  

 

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Except for working with Cedric the GHO, it appears the 2016 season is now officially in the books!

 

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Looking back, here are some of our favorite images and videos from the year.

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/1/falconry-friday-some-favorites-from-the-2016-season Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:10:55 GMT
Falconry Friday! The Monochromatic Winter http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/1/falconry-friday-the-monochromatic-winter Rehi all!  We're in the deepest part of the winter now. This is the most difficult time of year for raptors - the snow is heavily crusted, it's very cold, and prey is scarce.  The Harris' hawks have long since finished up their season and are starting their molt.  Lily has another week or three of hunting to go, depending on the weather.

 

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She continues to do well on pheasants and has even caught a few chukars this year! Her behavior is starting to change with the season now, with less aggression toward prey and more interest in soaring and wandering.

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/1/falconry-friday-the-monochromatic-winter Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:55:29 GMT
Falconry Friday! Warm Weather Flashback http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/1/falconry-friday-warm-weather-flashback Morning peeps!  It's -4*F at the moment with 16" of fresh snow so everyone's perched indoors for now.  We spent the week hunting human food (although Lily did kill a Chukar on Tues) and didn't get a chance to download the latest photos.  October seems like forever ago now but a warm weather flashback might be just the ticket!

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2017/1/falconry-friday-warm-weather-flashback Fri, 06 Jan 2017 15:26:20 GMT
Falconry Friday! 2017 Calendar Fundraiser for our Rehab Center http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-2017-calendar-fundraiser-for-our-rehab-center Hey peeps!  I've been working on the 2017 version of our calendar, which features our favorite images from the prior year's falconry season. It's an analog anomaly in a digital world, but still a fun project to put together.

 

Most years we'll only print a few for ourselves and close friends but this year we've gotten the green light from Fish & Game to publish with 100% of the proceeds going to our local wildlife rehab center.

 

The Wildlife Rehab Center of Northern Utah (WRCNU) does great work, taking in and caring for 2,500 wild animals a year. You can learn more about their work by viewing their website here

 

 If you or anyone you know is in need of a unique raptor-centric calendar, we'll donate 100% of every order to WRCNU!  You can preview and order a copy of the calendar from our  publisher here .  (Bonus:  I believe the publisher is offering a coupon code for 25% off this week: enter  6LZFHB4T  at checkout).  

 

Like I said, you can preview the whole calendar at the above link, but this is a photography blog after all, so here are the images we've chosen:

 

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January

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July

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August

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September

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October

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November

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December

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All images are high resolution digital files printed on heavy card stock - the publisher really does do a nice job on these.  Hope you enjoy and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-2017-calendar-fundraiser-for-our-rehab-center Fri, 30 Dec 2016 14:26:57 GMT
Falconry Friday! The Falcon-mobile is back in action! http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-the-falcon-mobile-is-back-in-action After 40 days and 40 nights in insurance company limbo, the falcon mobile is back in one piece again!  We're due two feet of snow over the weekend so we might be relegated to using the truck the rest of the season anyway but it's still good to have the stinky little bugger back.

 

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Speaking of stinky little buggers,  Cedric is coming right along -- glacially slow in hawk-time but somewhere around warp-8 in owl-time.  Pro tip:  owls don't offer running commentary about your choice of T.V. show like HAHAs do.

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Lily continues to do well on pheasants - provided we can get a second flush.  She's still struggling with rabbits, but the new snow may help - dry ground late in the year is tough sledding for a hawk on the learning curve.

 

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I posted the following series of screen caps on FB this week and I'll repeat them here as they show quite well how hawks like to go about catching pheasants.  As you can see, a hawk has almost no chance catching up to a pheasant in a straight tail chase:

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But, if you can re-flush the pheasant, they'll get it almost every time:

 

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Then it's dinner time!

 

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Here are the source videos:

 

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Merry Christmas everyone!

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-the-falcon-mobile-is-back-in-action Fri, 23 Dec 2016 14:56:32 GMT
Falconry Friday! Well, Didn't See That One Coming! http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-well-didnt-see-that-one-coming So, the Peanut has been asking about an owl for a good five years now, undeterred by reports of their questionable SAT scores and poor study habits.

The Feds allow falconers to take both adult and juvenile GHOs from the wild, but the concept of trying to train an adult GHO for falconry is basically too insane even to contemplate.  Thus, it's been mostly a matter of waiting for the right circumstance to present itself....

 

Here now comes a cute little juvie male GHO falling right into our laps:

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This is Cedric (after Cedric Diggory, in keeping with our theme) -- all 1030 grams of him.  He's quite small for a GHO - a big female will outweigh him by nearly a factor of two - and thus far seems to break all the GHO rules by being a sweetheart to work with.  He's taken right to the glove, rarely bates, eats well by hand and, most importantly, seems disinclined to either bite or foot.

 

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Training him to take game might be a slow process, but we're off to a great start!  Note here the anklets padded with rabbit fur - GHO's are booted like Ferrugies and Eagles and the padded anklets serve two purposes:  protecting the delicate leg feathers from irritation and camouflaging the anklets to minimize picking.

 

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The happy camper:

 

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Lily continues to do well (except for catching jacks) and has about another 6-8 weeks left in her season:

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-well-didnt-see-that-one-coming Fri, 16 Dec 2016 13:43:44 GMT
Falconry Friday! Hits & Misses http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-hits-misses Rehi all!  The HAHAs are done for the season, except for maybe a sunny day here or there.  Snow and freezing rain for the next week is in the forecast!

 

Lily's been out and about though, doing well on pheasants, less so on rabbits.  She's chasing them very well, but not finishing hard enough to actually catch them currently.  

In this first video, we see her missing both a pheasant and two rabbits.  We also see her get frustrated and take off a half mile up the valley.  This is an interesting difference between the HAHAs and the RTHAs -- they HAHAs are game to get back on the horse and keep trying but the RTHA starts pouting after a couple misses and lets her frustration get the best of her.  

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In this second video, we see Lily being a little more successful.  Hawks tend to want to strike at a pheasant either right on the flush or upon landing.  If you can reflush the pheasant after a miss, they'll get it 90% of the time.  The big trick in the sage:  pheasants prefer to run rather than fly when they know a hawk is about and they're really good at slipping away on foot without being seen.   Also note how, early in the hunt, she's game to jump right back up and keep hunting.

 

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She's also getting a bit more creative in her choice of dining area -- it's getting harder to get good photos with her wedged under the sage.

 

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The sunsets are a bit of a consolation prize for those unsuccessful outings -- and icing on the cake for the successful ones!

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-hits-misses Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:41:00 GMT
Falconry Friday! Man, Did it ever get cold in a hurry! http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-man-did-it-ever-get-cold-in-a-hurry Winter is all-of-a-sudden here now in Utah!  We had an extended fall here that was perfect for the HAHAs but it's gone from highs in the 50s to highs in the 20s like flicking off a light switch.  We've also got a foot of snow on the ground now.

I have one more video of the HAHAs hunting that I'll try to get finished for next week, but the girls are done with their season now and enjoying their heated mew.

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Lily the red tail really seems to be enjoying the colder weather though -- if anything it seems to have sharpened her concentration.  She's still doing well on pheasants and we're working on introducing her to ducks and rabbits.

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/12/falconry-friday-man-did-it-ever-get-cold-in-a-hurry Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:19:11 GMT
Falconry Friday! It's Red-Tail Weather Now! http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/11/falconry-friday-its-red-tail-weather-now It's snowing fairly regularly now and we're getting weathered out a couple times a week, it seems.  It's cold enough now too that the Harris' Hawks are becoming limited to sunny afternoons.

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Lily is just coming into her element now though and is raring to go!

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/11/falconry-friday-its-red-tail-weather-now Fri, 25 Nov 2016 14:51:08 GMT
Falconry Friday! Game on the ground! http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/11/falconry-friday-game-on-the-ground Well, it's been a hectic few weeks and we still don't have the falcon mobile back from the body shop yet.  

We do have all three birds back in the air though - and all three are catching game now.  As we've discussed before, their time on the ground is their most vulnerable and the falconer has two jobs here:  help wrangle the prey if need be and protect them from other predators while they eat.

Let's start with Lily's first pheasant of the year as I know this is what many of you have been waiting for all along....

 

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The HAHAs have a little game too -- they just usually wind up upside down or inside out when it's all over....

 

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/11/falconry-friday-game-on-the-ground Fri, 18 Nov 2016 15:14:22 GMT
Falconry Friday! Sidetracked a little this week http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/11/falconry-friday-sidetracked-a-little-this-week Morning everyone!  We got waylaid a bit this week - a cattle trailer wheel crossing into your lane at highway speed is no match for the falconmobile!

Luckily, no one was injured but it did consume at least one whole day so far.  Dora didn't enjoy the ride in the tow truck either if you were wondering!

 

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Dora hasn't missed a beat hunting solo, catching six rabbits this week all by herself.  Tonks is healing well and is off antibiotics now.  She should be good to get back out into the field late next week.

 

Lily is coming right along and we should have her out after pheasants tomorrow or Sunday...

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I didn't get time to download any of the videos or photos this week due to the wrecking the falcon mobile , so here we go to the archives:

Hopefully we'll be back to full strength by next week!

 

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this was their first bunny ever:

 

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Full and happy post hunt:

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/11/falconry-friday-sidetracked-a-little-this-week Fri, 11 Nov 2016 15:19:08 GMT
Falconry Friday! Remembering to Bring all the Things! http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/11/falconry-friday-remembering-to-bring-all-the-things Most falconers I know carry around a ton of gear, if not on their person then at least in the hawking car.  I mean, why have a hawking car if you're not going to put all the things in it?  Most falconers I know are also borderline OCD about making sure everything is where it's supposed to be. 

 

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I've managed to forget just about every piece of gear at least once -- except for the birds.  I haven't taken off and left the birds at home--- yet....

 

Their boxes are big enough that I usually notice if they're not in the car yet:

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Here's my hawking bag though.  Lots of little things that are easy to misplace:

 

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Aside from the cameras and telemetry, most of this stuff if either for first aid, taking care of game caught, or recovering a wayward bird.

 

That's usually enough to get us back to the car where the real first aid kit lives:

 

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Good thing too because, without a hint of irony, Tonks decided to follow up our post about medical issues by lacerating her foot.  She's got 3-4 stitches now, some antibiotics, and a two week vacation on tap.

 

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There are actually three separate cuts there, one sutured and two closed with tissue glue.  

 

Dora will be going it solo for a bit, and we hope to turn Lily loose after pheasants in the next day or two!

 

For now,  here are some new pictures and videos from the past couple weeks:

 

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HAHA1027 herding pheasant

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We've got three birds going in three different directions now and we'll keep you up to date on everyone's progress!

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matt@klarphotography.com (Klarphotography) http://www.klarphotography.com/blog/2016/11/falconry-friday-remembering-to-bring-all-the-things Fri, 04 Nov 2016 14:06:46 GMT