Sunday, May 03, 2009

New Project

A buddy of mine trapped this female the last day of trapping season a couple months ago and hasn't been able to get her to do much.

She's taken 4 or 5 baggie starlings but no wild game yet and he said he hasn't been able to figure out her weight. She was a monster when trapped, weighing in around 160, the first time I saw her fly she was about 105 and just dinked around in the wind. The last couple times I've seen her fly she's been around 98ish but I've never seen her chase anything. Yesterday when we went out with her we showed her a pretty easy sparrow slip and she didn't go so he kinda tossed her off the fist and she went and dinked around again. When he tried to call her down she'd buzz the glove and take off again but finally came down to half a quail. My buddy said he didn't feel like he was giving her the time she needed so he was going to put her up for the moult unless I wanted to see if I could get her going for awhile, in my birdless state of depression I said I'd give it a go. There are starlings on the grass in front of my apartment just about every morning and its been killing me not having a bird!

Honestly though, from what I've seen of her so far I'm not real confident and I'm not even really sure where to begin. She wasn't real excited coming out of the box this morning and it took quite a bit of coaxing to get her to jump to my fist at 103.2. I got a few jumps out of her though and fed her up to 108.2. We'll see how she acts tonight. I'm guessing she'll be around 97. I guess I'll just treat her like she's a newly trapped bird and take things as they come.

My boy has confidence in me though. Here he is giving me two thumbs up:

Wish me luck!!


Matt Mullenix said...

160 to 97 is a pretty good drop. My "giant" hag female was about that size when trapped but flew around 125.

You might actually think about raising the weight some and doing jump ups to gauge response and (re)build muscle. I'd want to rule out the possibility that she's just totally out of gas? Hard to imagine a haggard kestrel refusing a sparrow slip.

On the other hand, maybe she has never been set up right in the first place. If her response to the fist is good at a distance, she ought to kill a tethered bird quickly out the window. Just beware overfeeding in case she is indeed too low.

Isaac said...

Thanks for the input Matt. I'm going to raise her weight until she doesn't respond inside then lower her from there. It'll be interesting to see where she ends up.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Matt, but I know nothing, so don't let me influence you :-)

I'm glad you have another bird, albeit a challenging one. I'll be rooting for you. Bird have a name?

I'm bad about that. Name my cars, my horses, some of my tools - I have a dolly named Salvador.


Isaac said...

Hi Norman,

I'm horrible at naming things. Even my children were difficult! :-) She'll probably just be known as "The Project". Not exactly endearing but she'll only be with me temporarily anyway.

Doug said...

Congrats Isaac, since I'm completely sucking with Ulrich - keep us posted, I'll be anxious to see to it goes.

Our EyreLife said...

She's a pretty bird!

I logged in just to ask if it had a name but it looks likes Norman beat me to it...

So you don't get to keep her?

Isaac said...

Well Doug, I can't say that I expect great things. I've never taken on a "problem" bird before so I'm keeping expectations low. It'll be a fun summer project and I shall do my best but I make no guarantees.

Jess: She's a friends bird, I'm just bird-sitting for awhile. I'll trap my own bird in the fall.

Mom N said...

Glad you've got a project. I have confidence in you and will look forward to hearing more. I like reading Matt's input--hope to hear more technical stuff like that as you experiment. Best of luck. (My foot-and-ankle doc's name is Mullenix. Or Mullinax. Something close.) Hey: I spent the weekend at Capitol Reef. They need volunteers to count peregrines. I thought of you. :) xoxo.

Missy "Photographer Sydney" John said...

This calls for a celebration!

Isobael said...

YAY! I'm so glad you could fly another!

She looks HUGE!!!

It sounds sort of like what happened with Fiz. We had to fatten him up and basically start over as well. Still am really, considering we're lure flying rather than hunting at this point, but he's getting in shape.

Isaac said...

Mom: Matt wrote the kestrel "Bible" awhile ago, he's a good source for info!

Missy: Thanks!

Sandie: Yeah, I'm pretty excited to have a bird to play with. She IS huge compared to Dulci. Dulci was very petite and this bird looks built to kill. I'm still raising her weight slowly but she knows the basics so once we get used to each other and figure her weight out it will just be daily hunting to get her going...That's the plan anyway *fingers crossed*. There should be plenty of starlings but I've got the green light to fly sparrows if I want too. We'll just have to see how things go.

Bret Beede said...

Hi Issac,
A bird in too low of condition will often act like a "fat" bird. I would encourage bringing her weight up slowly (sudden increases in diet have been known to kill birds in very low condition) and exercise her with "vertical" jump ups to re-condition her. Feed her at least twice a day. Little birds have such a high metabolism that they require at least a couple feedings a day to keep them in top condition.

You probably already know this but for what its worth, here are a few general rule to remember: There are four main weights to record with freshly trapped passage birds; those are: The Trapped Weight, Empty Weight, Response Weight and the Starvation Weight. Of those, the "Empty Weight" is the most reliable bench mark to ascertain as it reflects the best estimate of the bird's true condition and weight and should be the mark upon which all initial weight calculations are measured against.

The Trapped Weight is an important reference but should not be viewed as a reliable bench mark. The "Empty Weight" however, observed somewhere between 24-48 hours after trapping is an ideal bench mark. Monitoring the amount and color of excrement of the bird within the first 48 hours helps you determine this weight and the condition of the bird(in some cases the empty weight is the trapped weight, but little bird are such proficient hunters that this is rarely the case.) the Response weight is generally somewhere in the range of 10%-15% off of the empty weight. Anything below 15%-20% of the Empty Weight should be avoided and considered "starvation Weight."

With this in mind, if you were to estimate your birds empty weight at around 140-150 grams the training response weight should fall somewhere within 119-127 grams (10%-15% off empty weight.) Some stubborn passage bird may need a little extra encouragement, but I would caution against going much below 18% off. My bet is that once the bird is sufficiently manned and in top condition being flown regularly, you will have a response weight around 125. If inter-mewed and flown consistently, you may even have good response near 130-135 grams. My best inter-mewed birds have shown good response at about 10% off empty weight. It is important to remember however, that response weight is always a moving target defendant on many variables including but not limited to health and condition, weather, Temperature, quality of food, confidence, routine, time of day, etc.

One more note: If you haven't already done so, put her on a regular feeding schedule and plan your training and conditioning to match.

Good Luck,

Bret Beede
Salt Lake City, UT

Isaac said...

Thanks for stopping by Bret! Good info.