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Second Trapping Adventure

September 17th, 2011

Second Trapping Adventure

So I’m combining a little internet humor* (meme) with some falconry adventures today in order to warn all the hawks out there that I’m looking for YOU. Specifically, I’m looking for a large immature female Red-Tailed Hawk.  I’ve been out for three trapping adventures so far with little success.  4 adults sighted and no immys for the first adventure;  12 hawks sighted on the second attempt with two birds trapped.  The night was looking like a success until the weigh-in occurred. There is a special hawk out there, the one that will be my partner for the next 6 months at least.

Trapping is quite simply the process of capturing a wild hawk for use in falconry. It involves a special trap**, a live bait animal, and some additional equipment for caring for the freshly trapped raptor.  It also involves lots of driving.  You drive around until you see a hawk that you can trap, and then you try to figure out the best way to present the trap to the raptor so she can see it, and then you are potentially waiting (long periods) for them to hit the trap.  Just as long as you don’t ‘bump’ them off of their perch.

Once you trap the hawk there are a few things to take care of; mainly, immobilize the bird so it doesn’t hurt you or itself.  Grab the feet with gloves on, throw a towel over the bird so that she can’t see what’s going on. Then hood the bird as soon as possible.  Unhook the nooses off the hawk feet carefully, this is where an injury can occur so sometimes it’s a good idea to simply cut the nooses off the feet.  You’ll then have to re-noose your trap at the end of the day.  It’s also a good idea to apply some ‘poultry-dust’ to a bird to get rid of parasites and insects.  Tape up the feet with stretchy co-flex tape and then slide a sock over the bird to keep its wings under control.  Once you’ve done these things you have a bird that looks like the picture below.  You are now ready to get weight.   Carefully place your bird on a scale and get some weight. Now it’s important to examine the bird for any other injuries, diseases, condition of the feet, or issues that would prevent this bird from making a good falconry hawk. So, you’ve got a decision to make; will you keep the bird or let it go and look for a bigger one?  It’s a tough call for sure; you’ve been driving around for hours and this is the first Immy you’ve seen, let alone been able to trap one.  My favorite part is letting the bird go after undoing all the dressings and the hood.  You’ve given the bird a little help with the poultry dust and it’s great to watch them fly back to their home.  Very satisfying to me.


Drop a comment on this article if you think I missed some important details or would like to share your hawk trapping adventures!

*Ackbar trap graphic borrowed randomly from the ‘net.

** Detailed hawk trap pictures or construction plans are not found here due to trade secret reasons.

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  1. September 17th, 2011 at 21:32 | #1

    Yep . . . special emphasis on the driving around a lot! I’ve been out several times so far, and have only seen 1 immy, which was caught immediately, and immediately let go after the scale weighing part. Soon I hope to add bow netting to the adventure. Good Luck! The trapping season is still ‘young’.

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