Passage Female Peregrine Falcon
Falconry has been a part of my life for approximately 7 years now. 8 years if you count the first year of ‘preparation’ that occupied every waking moment for the first year before I was licensed. This journey has no destination in mind, and the furthest thing from my falconry aspirations were falcons. Red-Tailed hawks hold a certain place in the wilderness and after working with them for the past 7 years, I’ve come to rely on their steady hunting style and the ease of hunting them in local areas with an ample supply of wild game to chase. I will continue to enjoy the walks in the woods with a trained Red-Tailed hawk, my trusty companion, Cedar for as long as she is willing to do so.
The trapping of a wild Peregrine Falcon was certainly an exciting adventure this fall. In order to get enough trapping time in, we spent a few days camping on a private section of shoreline on Lake Superior with a trapping blind setup. We also took a trip over to Whitefish point for a day. The WhiteFish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO) had been spotting Peregrines daily for the past month, so we figured it was a good place to look for Falcons. Our beach trapping setup was very simple: a mist net and a pigeon lure setup with a ground-blind about 50 yards away. We ended up seeing more falcons down at Lake Erie as the massive hawk migration made its way across Canada into the US across the Detroit River.
On a bright afternoon, one of the Peregrine Falcons flying high overhead, hit the pigeon and got caught in the net. A successful capture of a passage peregrine falcon was the beginning of another realm of falconry. Passage Peregrines are prized for their ability to hunt as well as the calm demeanor and quick pace that they man-down into a mild-mannered game falcon.
Once I was able to get through rush-hour traffic on the way home, she was able to perch on the glove and even do so without the bate-fits. Her manning progresses well to date and I’m thrilled to be lucky to have her. Her dark coloration, full dark head ‘moustache marks’ give indication that she is an ‘anatum’ subspecies. The description of the Continental falcon ‘anatum’ is provided by the Canadian Peregrine Foundation. Positive identification of the subspecies can be a tricky business without doing some level of genetic screening via feathers. I’ve had varius ID suggestions, but she is most likely an anatum.
‘Sabre’ is the given name to her as she is fast, pointy and cuts through the air like a knife. Like a big, sharp, deadly curved sword used in medieval times. I have every confidence that she’ll live up to her name. Sabre is also the first wild-trapped passage Peregrine Falcon in Michigan with an approved permit from the Michigan DNR. I am looking forward to continuing this falconry journey with my newest addition to the Falconry crew. There will be more on this aspect of “Team Austringer” coming up soon.
Falcons, Raptors PDF
New Deer Blind
The trusty deer blind that had served me for several years in the woods had deteriorated beyond repair. The inside of the blind had been covered in black mold, the roof was no longer protection from the rain, and the walls had rotted beyond stability. So, this year a new deer blind was constructed in it’s place with a few new amenities, like additional headroom. The construction of this blind was the brainchild of my brother, who put together a brilliant plan and orchestrated the entire construction effort at Deer Camp.
We are going to let it ‘blend in’ to the woods, finish up a few additional details in a couple of weeks, and then we’ll ready for deer camp in November. Shelter from the wind, rain, and snow is minimal, at best, but a necessary shelter for hunting the elusive White-Tailed Deer in Northern Michigan in the fall. Wish me luck this year!
Deer Camp, Hunting PDF
We took a fall weekend to go up to Northern Michigan to enjoy the cool fall weather and some beach scenery. September is a wonderful month to enjoy the outdoors in Michigan, provided that the weather cooperates. Traveling Up North is always a visual buffet of colors, especially in the fall as trees explode in full autumn splendor. By ‘Up North’, I mean to say we camped on the shore of Lake Superior to witness the great spectacle of the beautiful big lake, ‘Gitchee Gumee’. Far Up North, more than the usual trip to the cabin. We spent three days watching hawks, eagles, loons, and geese as they migrated down the coast towards the warmer climes. We took in some of the sights, all the way up to Whitefish Point, where birds congregate on their migratory routes. All this ‘beach bird-watching’ with the purpose of observing falcons during the migration. The adventure was successful, to say that we saw one falcon and enjoyed some beautiful weather for a few days.
With the adventures coming to a close, we packed up the dog and the gear in the car and headed home on Sunday morning. With just a few miles under our tires from the campsite, we saw a female Kestrel perched on a snag not far off the road. I stopped the car, loaded up the mice in the B.C. and we pitched the trap out the window with a good serve so she could see it. In just a few minutes, the Kestrel came down from the perch and hit the trap. A quick rescue and health survey, we had our first falcon of the weekend. We named her ‘Millie’ which is short for “Millenium Falcon”. “Millie” is now part of the falconry adventures for Kelly and myself and we are looking forward to all her training into a well-mannered falconry bird.
Millie is the second addition to the Falconry menagerie, behind Cedar. We are hopeful that Millie will train well and become a wonderful falconry bird.
Summer 2016 Update
As the summer draws to it’s peak heat indicies, my activity level with falconry is also reaching a zenith. This summer has been a time of change and growth on a personal level, as well as another challenge to my falconry career: getting ready for the next stage of falconry life. The next level for falconry for me comes at a time when change is a constant and being ready for the curveballs life throws at you becomes a mindset. All the preparation and readiness mindset in the world cannot prepare you for everything, but it can give you the ability to adapt better. Here’s a few things that I’m working on in preparation for ‘The Next Stage’.
With time and resources both at a premium for me right now, it’s become a challenge to construct a new mews. I need a new mews for the next level, so I’m in the process of converting an existing shed into a mews. The next stage for me is the next bird. “What is the next bird?” is a fair question here, but truthfully, I don’t know. It will be a bird of opportunity and when the time comes. I believe that God has a way of working through others, and provides each of us with the right thing at the right time. So when the right bird is ready for me, she will find me, I just have to be ready for her. There’s no sense in going trapping for a new falconry partner if you don’t have all the amenities arranged.
For the first time in my falconry adventures, I am taking on an apprentice. At first blush, this seems like a simple thing to do, being a falconer of 7 years, and varying levels of experience. It’s about time I passed on all my falconry knowledge and skills, right? However, taking on an apprentice is not something I take lightly, nor would I want to undertake the training of a young falconer haphazardly. This experience is going to take additional focus and a re-examination of my own skills as a falconer AND a teacher. The teacher in me always strives to give my best to my students.
Hunting Companion – Small Munsterlander
I’m going to add a four-legged companion to the hunting party this year. With ‘Wink’ (old English Setter, beyond his years) out of commission for bird hunting, I’m adding a Small Munsterlander puppy to the team, ‘Kida’. This is another feat that is no small measure of consideration, but I’m getting some extraordinary assistance from my apprentice. The training of a great hunting dog is another undertaking that should be given the greatest consideration. The additional training as a falconry dog will be an extra change for Cedar, as she is not used to hunting with dogs in the field. This too shall take some adjustments. Great Teams were not formed in a day, so we are going to work together on training as a team in the hopes of having some great falconry adventures together in the coming season.
I continue to work hard for the falconry community in Michigan and continue to provide assistance in special areas as necessary for the betterment of the sport in the State of Michigan. This sometimes involves long meetings on Saturday mornings, but it’s with some terrific folks and the topic is captivating. The outcome of our team’s work will provide the falconry community in Michigan additional confidence in our partnership with the authorities.
General Info PDF
Rolled Leather Anklets
I was introduced to rolled anklets the other day and worked out a pattern. The full templates are attached at the bottom of this post as a downloadable PDF. The patterns are drawn to scale.
Raptor Anklet Patterns (Downloadable PDF)