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Falconry Vendor Comparison

March 3rd, 2010

Falconry Vendor Comparison

History

It took me a long time to gather all my fabrication supplies in order to make and create some of the specialized gear that I need to keep the hawk and myself outfitted.  I spent a good amount of time making anklets and jesses and in so doing, a few of them were sized a little on the large size for Tahoe’s ankles. I changed her dressings this past weekend  for Outdoorama so that she looked nice with studded, clean anklets and jesses for the show.  The were nice looking, but they were too big. So, back to the drawing board I went to design proper anklets with a template and some kangaroo leather.  Seems that I’m low on brass grommets, so off shopping I went.

A year ago I found some 5/16″ diameter grommets at REI, and they worked really well. When I went back for some more, they were out of them.  I then traveled to the Bass-Pro shops, but they don’t carry grommets.  Of all the things, you’d think they’d have them for all their tents, camping, and outdoor gear.  The nice clerk at Bass-Pro thought I might try The Home Depot. He was right, they carried grommets but not the right size.  So it appears that it’s time for me to bite the bullet and go shopping online at one of the Specialty Falconry shops.  You don’t find specialty Falconry stores in every suburban town and city, so I spent a little time doing some comparison shopping with three of the leading web-based retailers.  I was surprised at what I found.

Comparison

Listed below are three shopping carts from the various vendor sites (names are withheld) that I compared with the products that I needed. I did not include shipping in the cost of the goods, but I did my best to select the same, or similar items as I could given the choices from each particluar vendor.  You can see that the total cost of my goods was within about $25 of the other vendors.

Vendor 1 : $116.37


Vendor 2 : $90.70

Vendor 3 : $103.70

My Decision

After careful consideration I ended up going with Vendor #3 for a few reasons.  While cost was an interesting measurement for comparison, I found myself choosing the middle because they had the best set of Grommet Pliers, even though they were a little more on the pricey side in comparison to one of the others ($38.00 vs. $29.95). Plus, the pliers have a nicer grip than the others, and with vice-grip type pliers, that’s a good thing when you’ve had experience pinching your fingers in between the handles (yowch!).

Another thing that encouraged my decision for Vendor #3 was the terrific service that was provided to my order.  There was a small descrepancy with one the size of one of my items, so the sales representative (site owner) called me to make sure it was correct.  This is not the first time he has done this. I truly appreciate the personal service and attention to detail to make sure that I get the right products in the right size.  While there are some items that may vary a great deal in the price range, I was willing to take a little extra hit for the good service and premium pliers.

Ok, so why the specialized pliers? Why did I choose the supplies that I chose? Well, while pre-making the anklets with grommets on both ends of the almyri anklets, I want to try crimping them directly to both ends of the anklets while putting them on the hawk. I think they will provide a more sturdy fit for the bird and I like the look of them.  As for the French Clips, I’ll be making a few more leashes for some falconry buddies, and I like the design and handle of the french-style clips for use in the field. Tahoe recently lost her bells in the woods and the replacement pair that I had didn’t sound very nice.

Do you have experience with online falconry purchases?  Would love to hear about your experience!  Please leave a comment!

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Raptor Jewelry Kit

October 12th, 2009

Raptor Jewelry Kit

The Jewelry Kit

Outfitting your raptor with the proper equipment can be quite a chore if you are not organized and have all the necessary items together.  There are a few itmes that are handy to have together in one place so that equipment changes can be quick and painless (for both the bird and YOU). I took a large tacklebox container and had to cut out one compartment so that the nippers would fit inside the case. Then I sized the compartments accordingly and discarded my baggies and placed the loose equipment into the appropriate places.  Once I started taking care of my raptor’s equipment, it became easy for me to keep things together and organized so I could change things up quickly and easily. After a while, this box became a ‘Jewelry Kit’ because I have a med-kit and a food-kit and this is another box of falconry *stuff* that you always need handy. Jewelry Kit just seemed like a good title.

What’s in the box?

I’ll list the equipment here from left to right, starting with the top row:

  • Split Rings
  • Small Carabiners, screw-gate carabiners
  • #8 Sampo Swivels
  • #6 Sampo Coast-Lock Swivels
  • Large Carabiners
  • Small Carabiners
  • Bewits
  • Zip-Ties
  • Miscellaneous cutters, bells, Anklets
  • Jess Straps (field and mew)

Other items not pictured:  Squirrel Chaps, Emery Board, Jess Grease

Usage

Ok, so you’ve got your kit all set and your bird is ready for some new accessories. What do I do with all this cool stuff? First and foremost, falconers are concerned with equipment failure, or the lack of it. All equipment should be in prime condition to ensure top performance of your raptor during strenuous conditions. Equipment failure and poorly maintained accessories can lead to injury to your raptor or you.  It’s just not worth the risk, considering a new swivel costs about $8.00 and a visit to the doctor / vet for stitches can cost $80.00 or more. It’s worth the cost to have a few extra’s of everything around for the times that you are changing up equipment for wear and cleaning.

Training Tips

Changing out anklets, jesses, bewits and bells should not be a traumatic experience for you or your raptor and with a little care and practice, it can be easy.  Of course, a newly trapped raptor will most certainly take exception to handling of it’s feet, so it’s not recommended to try this right away.  Here are a few tips on changing equipment:

  1. Always show your raptor an empty hand before doing anything.  The last thing you want her to think is that you have food in your hand.
  2. Get your raptor used to being touched. Use a chopstick during training to touch feet and judge reaction. With training and consistency, the bird should learn to ignore being touched with a chopstick.  When you are comfortable that she is not reacting to the chopstick, start touching her feet with your hand.
  3. Move at a moderate pace.  Always watch the bird for cues of irritation. You’ll keep your senses keen and sharp to her movements and foot adjustments. You don’t want to move to quickly, as to startle her, but don’t be slow about it.
  4. When securing equipment with Zip Ties, always use the emery board to sand off the sharp edges of the plastic.  The nippers can cut things pretty close, but they always leave a slightly sharp edge to the plastic.  Sand it off and make sure it won’t catch on anything.
  5. I use bewits with a leather strap woven onto the Zip Tie as an additional comfort factor. It is also possible to attach your bells straight to the anklet, but then you cannot change removable chaps easily (i.e. in the field).   This is simply a personal preference.
  6. No falconer’s gear is complete without the #8 Sampo.  Accept no substitute for large raptors such as a red-tail.
  7. Make sure your roo leather (anklets and jesses) are properly greased (non-petroleum based) for durability and water resistance.  Dry roo leather jesses and anklets wear faster without proper hydration and conditioners that are present in the jess grease.
  8. Carabiners, snaps, and coast-lock swivels are highly versatile in may situations. I like to use them to secure lures to my belt or my hawking bag, as well as easy clips for raptor-to-leash-to-glove systems. Some falconers choose to use a dog-leash-clip system, french-clip, or even a snap-shackle instead, but what it all comes down to is equipment that you are comfortable using.

If you have a different experience with falconry jewelry and equipment (positive or negative), please leave a comment!  Thanks!

Equipment , ,

Hoods

August 20th, 2009

What’s with the Hawk Hat?

The hood for a raptor is a special piece of equipment that is helpful during the manning process, aiding the raptor in keeping them calm.  The hood shields the eyes from light, as well as movement which can startle your raptor. In the old days of falconry, falconers would use a process known as “seeling” the eyes.  That is to say, they would sew the eyes shut during the manning process in order to tame the raptor. This practice has been replaced with the falconry hood and is a much more humane way of properly manning your raptor.  The additional benefit to this is that you can continue to use the hood in various settings to keep the raptor calm and under control, even if the environmental setting may be unsettling to your raptor.
Hood construction can vary from highly simple, to very complex. The hood is a falconry item that is manufactured for special purposes, and can be highly customized based on the hood-maker and the species being hooded.  I would also say that the process of making a hood is highly specialized and could almost be considered an art, requiring a vast amount of skill and talent in order to make a good one.
I’ve drawn the line here at this item and decided to purchase a hood, rather than attempt to (clumsily) make my own.  There are many patterns, styles, and variations to these intricate hoods, and I’d like to leave this craft to the experts.  Hood styles can range from simple to ornate.  Some common styles of hoods are:
* Dutch
* Khan
* Moridian
* Many other styles.

The hood for a raptor is a special piece of equipment that is helpful during the manning process, aiding the raptor in keeping them calm.  The hood shields the eyes from light, as well as movement which can startle your raptor. In the old days of falconry, falconers would use a process known as “seeling” the eyes.  That is to say, they would sew the eyes shut during the manning process in order to tame the raptor. This practice has been replaced with the falconry hood and is a much more humane way of properly manning your raptor.  The additional benefit to this is that you can continue to use the hood in various settings to keep the raptor calm and under control, even if the environmental setting may be unsettling to your raptor.

Hood construction can vary from highly simple, to very complex. The hood is a falconry item that is manufactured for special purposes, and can be highly customized based on the hood-maker and the species being hooded.  I would also say that the process of making a hood is highly specialized and could almost be considered an art, requiring a vast amount of skill and talent in order to make a good one.

I’ve drawn the line here at this item and decided to purchase a hood, rather than attempt to (clumsily) make my own.  There are many patterns, styles, and variations to these intricate hoods, and I’d like to leave this craft to the experts.  Hood styles can range from simple to ornate.  Some common styles of hoods are:

* Dutch

* Khan

* Moridian

* Many other styles.

Equipment , ,

Falconry Equipment Inspection Checklist

August 12th, 2009

Preparing for Inspection

One of the most important steps in getting your falconry license is the inspection by the DNR / WFS. You’ll need to have designed and built your mews according to the requirements and ensured that your facilities are raptor-safe. Have your sponsor look over your mews design plans and talk through different ideas for your particular situation. You may find that your sponsor’s experience is very helpful with planning and design concerns. If you have good relations with other falconers, be sure to invite them out and have them take a peek at it also. Some of the little things that are apparent to the experienced eye can help you out later. It’s good to get a third and fourth opinion on some things in order to ensure the best possible housing for your raptor.

Your equipment list by this time should be narrowed down to just a few things left. You’ll need the big items, of course: perch, leashes, jesses, swivels, anklets, water dish/bowl, glove, etc.. It is a good idea to have your sponsor look over your equipment and make sure that everything is well suited for the raptor you expect to capture. One of the items that is NOT required, but is highly recommended is Telemetry. This is a big $$$ investment into your falconry experience, so you should make sure you have a good idea of your expected participation and use of telemetry. Of course, it goes without saying that the minute you don’t have or use telemetry, you’ll need it. Think of telemetry as an insurance policy: Sure, it’s pricy up front, but if you ever lose your bird, or she flies off after a local resident, you’ll be glad you have it.

Attached below is a basic Equipment and facilities inspection checklist / report that you can use to get yourself started on the required items for licensing.  You can also find many other examples online, such as the one supplied by the California Department of Fish and Game. Falconry Inspection Checklist

UPDATE: 08-27-2009

A Michigan DNR Conservation Officer came to inspect my facility and equipment and passed without issue!  One more step closer today along the journey of falconry.

Pre-Apprentice , , ,

Bow Perch

June 19th, 2009

 

Bow Perch

 

As a falconer / hawker, you are going to want to take your raptor along with you when you go camping, trips up to the cabin, or if you are just out and about in the yard. A hawk needs a proper perch on which to sit, relax, and feel comfortable. The bow perch is a great way to make your raptor comfortable.

 

This indoor / outdoor perch was made by a good friend of mine who welded together a few metal scraps. It is quite heavy and I do not expect a raptor to be able to move the platform when she bates. A large metal welded ring is attached to the perch arm.

 

 

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