Saturday, August 20, 2022

Hawky McHawkface

Good heavens, has it only been eight days since my last post? Our world (life with a hawk) looks so much different since then. Everything I wrote about last time that we are doing with her seems like old news and we've added new experiences every day.

Her beak's a bit messy; this was after lunch.

I don't need to sit in the mews with her anymore. She knows me and she knows my voice. M's also. She trusts us and we stay calm when she bates (throws herself off the glove and dangles upside down briefly before she gets back upright) and refrain from sudden movements. By her nature she will never fully trust that we won't take her food away, so when she's enjoying some noms she mantles, as shown here.

She knows that M's and my gloves are a safe place to be, and Br's as well (Br is our falconer-mentor). While sitting on our gloves she has been confronted with loud cars, big trucks, scary bicycles, a cat, a small dog, small crowds of walkers, admirers, and new territory, and still nothing bad has happened to her while on our gloves. She knows she's ok there.

In fact it seems she'd rather be on our glove than sitting around doing nothing. When she's in her mews and can see us either walking through the living room or sitting on the patio eating dinner, she screams at us. It's not earth-shatteringly loud (yet) but she lets us know we're not doing exactly that which she would prefer. Often while standing on one leg and floofing herself up, which indicates contentment. Silly girl.

One thing I didn't mention in my last post is that she needs to get used to our cameras and smartphones because we are pretty much constantly taking pictures of her. Some of my favorites are what I now call "hawkies" (selfies with a hawk).

It's getting harder to find new challenges every day! We've taken her walking all around our little village including across a busy road, we've gone for a ride in the car with her on my glove looking out the windshield, she's flown back and forth between us in the yard for tidbits, I tried to show her about vertical jumping (she overshot it once and landed on my head), she's had her beak filed, she's been inside our house a few times, and we've sat on the patio, the front steps and the steps at M's office so she could watch the world go by.

Today she took a drive in Br's car all the way to their training grounds (a 20-minute drive) because our yard has become too small. She flew like a pro between us 20 times, then onto the Federspiel (lure that looks like a crow) and lastly to a crow wing that she could pluck and gnaw on as a reward for her hard work. 

Only once did she get a bit confused while flying to Br and the Federspiel and had to search for a place to land. The only thing nearby other than the ground was a corn field, so she gave that a try! As she disappeared into the corn almost as gracefully as a hovercraft setting down, I tried not to laugh and Br fished her out again.

A few days ago her sister Hekate came over for a visit, and watching them interact was fascinating. From the body language you can tell that Hekate was signaling "Hey, I am the boss here, even if it is your yard!" with her posture while Kaya signaled her willingness to concede. This is nature in action because Hekate is larger and older, and therefore she is higher in the hierarchy. Kaya's lighter feathers on her chest show that she's a young bird, and Hekate instinctively knows that. Therefore she understands that Kaya isn't a threat or competition. Still, we watched them closely while they sat on their perches in our yard.

The other day it started to rain while I was chatting with my parents. I put the phone down to move her perch under the roof of the mews, and she responded by jumping into her bathtub for a full-body bath! A raptor will only bathe when it feels safe, because when it is very wet its ability to fly is compromised. So I felt quite honored that she did so with me sitting near her in her mews.

In the mean time I've gone out crow-hawking with Br and Hekate a few times, and on Thursday she got her first crow after 4 Fehlflüge (misses). So the season has officially opened for us, and soon we will go out with Kaya in the back seat watching Hekate at work so Kaya gets the idea of what her future job is.

There is so much more to write about, but it's time to go play with my hawk. We're practicing with sitting in the car and with a hood today, and we haven't been for a walk with M yet. 

Until next time...


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