Friday, October 21, 2022

An Unexpected Bath

Today, after a Corona-Zwangspause (forced break due to my Corona infection) we finally went out crow hawking again. The drive to the meeting point, where I met Br and a new Jungfalknerin took 90 minutes, and both birds were finished within an hour! It was a successful morning, and after a such a long break I was relieved and proud of Kaya for getting her crow.

When out hawking you never know what you'll experience, and almost every time I come home with a tale to tell M (who has mercifully been spared Corona, despite my infection including symptoms and the two of us not really isolating from each other as we should have).

Kaya just after our Zwangspause, looking wistfully at crows
and wondering if we're ever going hunting again.

I'd arrived at our meeting point about 8 minutes late, and in the mean time Br and JF (Jungfalknerin) decided to take a round with Hekate and see what they could find. I got Kaya out of her travel box, attached her telemetry sender, showed her that it was raining, and put her back into her dry box to wait. About 20 minutes later I saw Br's car approaching the parking lot, disappear around the curve, and that was it. 5-6 minutes went by and they didn't appear. I'd seen another truck over there and thought maybe they'd run into trouble, when suddenly my phone rang. It was Br. Fifty meters from where I was waiting, Hekate had her prey!

Right, so she was done for the day because it was a special kill. And a muddy one!

So Hekate got a treat in her travel box and got to nibble while the three of us took Kaya out. 

We drove about and got a good look at the usual spots, spotted a murder of crows (did you know a group of crows is called "a murder"?) on a field in a good position, turned the corner, Kaya kept her cool, I launched her at just the right time, and BAMM! She had her crow, too! That was less than 30 minutes after we'd started.

Well done, Lass!

Check out my muddy boots!

I had to pluck her and her prize out of that muddy field and bring her over to the less-muddy road where she could fill herself up while I scraped off my boots. Since she's still learning she gets to enjoy her kill before we pack her up again, which means she gets to eat until she can't anymore.

The three of us enjoyed her success on top of Hekate's, chatted about all kinds of things in the rain, and when Kaya showed signs of slowing, traded her crow for a yummy thawed chick - which wasn't easy because her right claw was cramped into the crow. I put her soaking wet into the travel box with a drumstick and we returned to the parking lot.

The drive there (near Kehl in the Rhein valley) was relaxed but crappy because it was pitch dark most of the way, rainy, foggy, serpentiny, and the headlights of on-coming cars are blinding in those conditions. The drive back was much nicer, though it still rained the whole way. I stopped at the top of the Schwarzwald to take a photo of the beautiful scenery.


The fall colors really were quite beautiful, but of course not where I could easily stop. Kaya wanted to get home anyway.

When we got home I put a wing from her crow into the mews on the perch we call "the balance beam" but put her inside on her perch in the sun room to wait for M to return for lunch and to hopefully dry off a bit.

I don't know if she looks as wet as she is, 
but she is WET!

Here you see her Kropf (crop) full of crow -
the bulge under her throat.

I had her step on the scale out of curiosity, and she was 1100 grams - 200 grams more than she was when we set out this morning! That might be the most she's packed on in one day since we've had her. Not all falconers let their raptors fill up on their first crows, and while I see the sense of maintaining a more constant weight, this is how Br does it and we're ok with it, too. Kaya had a "diet day" yesterday, which raptors in the wild often have as well, albeit unplanned, but today she got to see that a successful hunt means a full belly (and crop)!

When I brought her into her mews, she quickly spied the wing on her perch and flew to it as if she were starving. But flying with a full Kropf is a little awkward, so she missed what she was aiming at and only caught the perch on the bottom, dangling there momentarily like a bat. She regained her footing, grabbed the wing, and then thought a moment where she wanted to take it. She always opts for one of the corners of the mews, so she jumped down. Again the full crop and the crow wing in her clenched fist caused her some trouble, and her flight to the ground was more of "falling without style" and she landed in her bathtub!

Good thing she spent 20 minutes drying off...

She's now standing on her waterlogged dessert, half manteling (because she can never be sure I don't want a bite of that deliciousness for myself) and likely confused. I backed up and assured her the dessert was hers alone, but I couldn't help snap a photo as I encouraged her to get out of the tub.

Then she dragged her dessert into the corner, gave me the side-eye again, and just sat there. She was likely too stuffed to really tuck in.


But she's been quiet in her mews for several hours, forcing out a squawk only now and then for heaven knows what reason. I was happy to see (on our surveillance camera) that she was able to fly back up to a corner perch and then over to her balance beam, which is under the roof. She's still there, doing extreme preening. It's surely going to take until at least tomorrow to get those feathers back in order. But it's not cold, and if we're in doubt later we can bring her inside to sleep where it's dry.

I think Kaya is proud of herself.
And she should be!

I am SO glad to be healthy again and back in action with Kaya. It's a long drive sometimes, but it's worth it because she needs that success. Going for walks and sitting on benches is nice and all, but she was hatched to hunt! And for a young bird, she's good at it.

Until next time...


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