Saturday, December 10, 2022


One thing I've always loved about southwest Germany is that the winters are SO much milder than what one endures in Wisconsin. The temps aren't as low, the windchill not as threatening and the snowfall usually a joke compared to what one has in WI. We've gone entire winter seasons here only having to use our shovel a handful of times. Other times a broom is sufficient. Yes, we've had some significant snowstorms as well, but at least the streets get cleared well (so one doesn't have to drive on a sheet of ice for 2 months, unlike in WI) and the snow doesn't last long.

My snowbird. Or maybe snowhawk?

I didn't pay much attention to nighttime temps because I've been snug under my Federbett with the window tilted open all winter long.

Bring on December 2022, the first year we have our Harris hawk, who lives outside in her mew. FFS, I've not noticed temps this cold for this extended a period since I moved here! It's still nothing like Wisconsin - in fact I just converted the coldest upcoming temp and found it to be still double-digits-above-zero °Fahrenheit! But we can't bring her in because the temperature differential between inside and outside is now too great that it's not healthy for her to go in and out.

Unfortunately no one can convince me that "she'll be fine." It's like when a mom puts another sweater on her kid because the mom is cold - except I can't put a sweater on her. I had a brief "Ah-hah!" moment the other night when I pondered on the fact that I was warm in bed because I was covered in...feathers. But then the next night I had to add a blanket on top of my Federbett.

Kayas first snow:
I feel like she's screaming, "WTF?!?!"

M put up another perch today in the inner mew, this one with a warming cord running along the wood, covered with something like Astroturf (perching on that is good for her feet, but she also has perches that are just branches because raptors need options). And he added a layer of insulation on top the inner mew that should keep it more comfortable in there, especially when it's windy. We didn't turn on the heat yet (we'll test it tomorrow) because we want to be present when it's warmed to make sure all is well, it works but is not too hot, etc. But Kaya did accept the new perch and went to sleep there for the night.

I've read in two books about Harris hawks that the cold is not a problem for them as long as they are in a dry and draft-free mew. The ground of her mew is natural earth and grass, and the ground in Germany is never dry in winter. But her perches are high up off the ground. She does have protection from drafts, especially if she chooses to sleep in her inner mew.

These books were written by experts on Harris hawks in Germany and in the U.S. They have many, many years of experience and know what they're talking about. And still I worry about her out there in the cold because I would hate to have to sleep out there regardless of how many layers I might be wearing. Every morning when she starts squawking (sometime between 5:00 and 6:45) I jolt awake and my first thought is, "Oh thank God, she's ok!"

I've spent some time thinking fondly back to August, when she was new here and I worried about her because it was so hot. I can't believe she's only been with us for four months!

This is my "I hate winter" face.
She's looking for crows.

To date she has successfully bagged 10 crows and shows herself to be a willing and enthusiastic hunter. The ones she hasn't bagged were often because of a mistake I made, sometimes because she was too enthusiastic and flopping around and banging me in the face with her wings, thereby alerting the clever crows to the danger they were in, other times because the crows out-maneuvered her, and sometimes just dumb bad luck. We continue learning together and will keep trying until the end of the crow-hunting season in mid-February.

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