Saturday, September 23, 2023

Crow Hawking Diaries: Curious Horses

 OMG, what I would give to have photos or video of today’s hawking experience! 

M and I took a guest and Kaya crow hawking not far from Horb and it was tough going at first. We saw hundreds of Rotmilane and common buzzards, but not so many crows. Those we did see flew out of range too quickly. But twice we passed a horse farm with an occupied pasture where there were a bunch of crows. Each time we drove past, those who were out of the pasture flew into it knowing they were safe there. I won’t launch Kaya into a pasture full of horses, especially with an electric fence. I finally asked M to drive to the farm, and I found the owners outside. I explained what we were doing, they were enthusiastic, told me to go ahead and the horses won’t be bothered, and showed me where to unplug the electricity to the fence. We got back in the car, drove about 150 meters, and I tossed her into the pasture at the unsuspecting crows. 

What can I say? I love horses!

The one she picked out had taken off, and she flew after it in hot pursuit. Once the crow is airborne it’s unlikely she’ll get it, so I got ready to call her back. But she wasn’t going to let that crow go, and she grabbed it out of the air! She pulled it to the ground, I ducked through the fence and raced the 50 meters to her to do my job. I’d asked M to come as quickly as he could, and thank goodness. The horses found the goings-on quite interesting and meandered over to have a look. Kaya was ok with that up to a point, but they kept coming closer. By then M was there and I told him to stand between the horses and me so I could finish things with Kaya. That was probably also when I said, “OMG, you have to get a photo of this!” He stood protectively between us facing the horses, but more and more of them came up and formed a sort-of U-shape around us. Kaya was secured and still had a death grip on the deceased crow but wanted to get the hell away from the horses. Among the steeds there was some commotion and I hoped M wouldn’t get kicked. 

I collected Kaya with her crow and headed back to the fence. M followed.

So did the horses.

And several cows, one that looked rather butch.

Kaya got her reward for a job extremely well done while we and our guest recapped the events on the safe side of the fence. Then we went back to the farm to talk with the owners and tell them we’d been successful! They were happy to hear it. The woman said she sometimes gets dived-bombed by crows when she’s riding, and the man said the farmers around grumble about the crows picking in the fields and destroying young crops.

The Wasserbüffelhof

We stopped at the water buffalo farm vending machine for an ice cream treat and had quite the audience of others shopping there. Then the owner of the buffalo farm also came by and chatted with us – he also said he’s thrilled to hear we’re after crows in the area.

A family-friendly photo of Kaya manteling
a kill from a few days ago)

Kaya got a leg and a wing from her crow in her mews when we returned and is so stuffed she can’t see her feet. But she’s screaming about her adventure to the neighborhood, or perhaps she’s just screaming at our neighbor who is minding his own business and trying to get some yard work done.

Our season officially opened with Kaya's first success on September 3rd, and since then she's grabbed 7 crows and her first-ever Elster (magpie)!

Until next time...


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