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A Cast of Harris Hawks

October 18th, 2011

A Cast of Harris Hawks


 Social Raptors

Harris Hawks are different from other raptors in that they come together to hunt in cooperative groups called ‘casts’. They fly together to flush prey out of cover and then stoop upon it and wait for other group members to help assist with the kill. Watching them is truly incredible, the teamwork they use to capture prey and survive together.  The picture above is the full cast of four Harris Hawks out hunting a field. Click here for more detailed information on the Harris’ Hawk.


A Falconry Experience

Hunting with a cast of 4 Harris Hawks together is an exciting adventure.  This past weekend I had an opportunity to go hunting with three other falconers and their Harris’s Hawks. There were four Harris Hawks flying together in a cast.  This was truly an awesome hunting afternoon and being able to hunt with and watch these Harris Hawks work together was truly an experience. My sincere thanks and gratitude goes out to the other falconers for the hunting invite out to the field to enjoy a fine afternoon of falconry!

During the course of the afternoon, there were several stoops and dives, and the lead make-hawk connected on two cottontails.  That’s a good day in any falconer’s book!  Another thing that was interesting about the afternoon was the presence of other hawks out in the field. While we were out hunting with the Harris Hawks, the cast was dive bombed by a juvenile Red-Tail at one point. Shortly there-after, two adult Red-Tails appeared over the hunting field and screamed, proclaiming their territory.  A little later on in the hunt, a Coopers hawk buzzed through the hawks, drawing some attention. Upon exit from the field, I noticed a Peregrine falcon soaring high over head when I returned to my car.  I’ve been an avid bird watcher and raptor fan for many years and the sight of hawks and falcons always excited me.  It’s amazing that during the course of hunting the other native hawks all seem to come ‘out of the woodwork’ and show themselves defending their territory.  There is nothing like another large raptor out in the field to attract other hawks.  I’m amazed at how quickly they swoop in and make their presence known.


The picture below shows three of the four Harris Hawks scoping out a nice perch with a view of the field below.  All the ‘angles’ were covered by these three birds, so if anything flushed out, it would be noticed immediately.

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