Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Kaya's First Crow

Kaya is now five months old and we've had her for six weeks. I've wanted to write a blog post once a week, but just like with a new baby, one wonders as the day wanes where all the time has gone!

Today Kaya got her first wild crow! Everything we have done with her from Day 1 has been leading to this point. Up until now we have practiced with her on crows that her half-sister Hekate has killed, but she didn't have to do any real catching of a live one on her own. Today that changed.

This was "Teamwork pur"!! Our falconer-mentor ("Br") drove to two different Reviere (territories where we have permission to hunt) on opposite sides of Tübingen, and we had no luck at all in the first one. No crows were close enough or flew off as soon as they saw Br's car. Clever little devils. So we drove to a new Revier where the crows don't know the drill, and there Kaya had 7 or 8 good attempts/flights. All but 2 were too far away, but they were worth a try. I'm thrilled to say she has a great Faustappell (returning to the glove after a miss) and when I call her and raise my glove with a tidbit on it, she comes right back - even from where she can't see me. At one point she was on the other side of a barn being harrassed by fifty crows, but she heard me above their racket and found me again.

As we drove she stretched her neck and kept a lookout for crows, keeping mostly quiet in the car like a good girl. If she's as noisy as she often is at home in her mew, the crows will bugger off long before we can get close to them. Our previous practice had paid off, because she seemed to be able to tell the difference between small black birds (Amseln) and crows. She was alert and eager to bag a meal.

This is Kaya on a previous hawking experience
where she is screaming at her older sis, who'd just bagged a crow.
"Gimme some!!!"

I had carpal tunnel surgery last week Thursday and wear a bandage and brace on my right hand (I hold Kaya on my left), and I can't drive stick-shift or finish the job once Kaya has her crow. So Br was ready and jumped right in.

When we spied our crow, saw it was sitting well and were confident we could sneak up on it, I launched Kaya. This was after 7 or so failed attempts, and I was starting to wonder if she understood she had to catch and not just chase. This time the crow was distracted enough and Kaya slammed right into it and hung on! I dashed to her, secured one of her jesses to my glove, reached under her wings to find the crow's head and discovered it had Kaya's toe in her beak and was clamping down hard! I pried open the crow's beak and Kaya got her foot out of the way. She seemed to know I was there to help and didn't try to get away with her prize, which she had tried to do earlier with the practice crows.

By then Br had reached us and was able to finish off the crow quickly. One difference between nature and human hunters is that humans do everything they can to shorten the prey's suffering as much as possible. Wild hawks, eagles and buzzards don't care, and they hang on, gripping with their talons until the prey bleeds to death while they tuck in.

So now the crow was dead and at that point Kaya was able to pluck and eat to her heart's content while we waited, took pictures, called the Jagdpächter (hunter-tenant) and I sent M a message to say Kaya had triumphed!

Who's a good girl??

When she couldn't stuff any more crow into her Kropf (crop), Br got her onto the glove* with an extra bit of crow we had ready, we praised her for her good work and put her back into her transport box for the drive home.

*That's my job, but because of my gammy hand, that's another part I can't do yet.

When we got home I put her in her mew with the rest of the crow, and she was quiet for a while. Then she started in with her screaming again so I brought her into the Wintergarten for a bit. On this photo you can see her full Kropf - that lump above her chest. That crow will keep her full and satisfied until at least Thursday.

The German word for "stuffed to the gills" is

We are tired and happy at the end of a successful hawking day and the official start of the season for Kaya. Tomorrow she gets a day of rest and we'll be back at it on Friday. Now she's back in her mew basking in her success (and quiet).

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