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Closing out the First Season of Hawking

March 10th, 2010

Closing out the First Season of Hawking

While the calendar isn’t quite past the Vernal Equinox, the moderate temperatures and increased wildlife activity surely signify that Spring is coming soon.  I’ve noticed a significant amount of wildlife the other day on my drive home:  sandhill cranes, several groups of turkeys, 3 herds of deer with 20+ in each group, counted 5 Red-Tailed Hawks and two nests, many flocks of Canada Geese, ducks, songbirds, and even a Red-Winged Blackbird.  All the animals are showing more activity, even the rabbits in the swamp in my back yard. So with spring around the corner, the end of the first hawking season is very near.

While Tahoe did not target fox squirrels this season, she did take a swipe at a few and even chased one around a tree trunk one afternoon.  Squirrel Hunting season officially ended on February 28th of this year.  So they are done.  Rabbit season finishes up at the end of this month. However, the end of Tahoe’s flights may end sooner, if the weather gets warmer and Tahoe gets more distracted in the field by the call of the wild.  Hawks tend to take to spring thermals very quickly, and then end up in a soar for the afternoon, leaving the falconer driving around a while with the radio-telemetry going.  Sometimes it’s best to call the end of the season early, especially when the weather turns unseasonably warmer.

So now what?  What do you do with a Red-Tailed Hawk until Rabbit season starts again in the Fall?  Warmer weather and a surplus of food make it great for hawks to molt and rear their own brood.  Tahoe won’t be mating this year being cooped up in the mews, but she will molt her feathers and turn her plumage into the adult feathers, complete with red-tail that these raptors are famous for. Looks like we’ll get to witness a wonderful transformation, up-close and personal with Tahoe over the summer months.

The joy of falconry has taught me much about predator-prey relationships, bonding with raptors, and the truly wonderful world of hawking for rabbits. I have a well-mannered hawk in my mews that I truly enjoy taking care of, hunting, and watching.  While the partnership will have to remain within the confines of the mews, backyard, and house for the summer, I sure am looking forward to a break from the hunting excursions  for some warm weather activities and fun with the family.

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