Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Switch Has Been Flipped

Saturday I was out early since my wife and kids were going to be coming home after being away for 3 weeks and I needed to clean the house! I knew I was going to need most the day to clean but I really wanted to get out hawking...

I actually wasn't all that keen on the prospects. I had shown Hayduke what should have been a fairly simple slip at starlings on Friday evening and he didn't even flinch. He was a bit higher than I would've liked him but only by a gram or so (79g vs. 77.8g). So I had my noose carpet along and was more out for baggies than actually hunting.

First stop at a Wal-mart parking lot where I caught my baggie starling last week. Last week was a lot colder though so I think it helped bring the starlings down. There were a few hanging around on light posts but none were interested in coming down to my noose carpet. I thought I saw some sparrows fly into a hedge so I got Hayduke out and kicked around but nothing came out. No sense wasting my limited time there so I hopped back in the car and headed over to a larger shopping center where there's always tons of starlings.

As I pulled into the shopping center I thought I saw a couple starlings cruising low with their landing gear down on a far edge. I headed in that direction and sure enough, someone had spilled something the night before and there was maybe half a dozen starlings munching on the leftovers. Noose carpet or bird? I figured I'd get the bird out, if he went for them great, if not and they bumped I'd put the noose carpet over what they'd been eating. Well being pre-occupied getting the bird out, I missed all the starlings leaving! So it was a no-go on either option but then I noticed Hayduke bobbing his head toward some ivy against the wall of a building...a closer look revealed a lesser spill on the ground in front of the ivy with 4 or 5 sparrows staking a claim. So I headed in that direction.

Hayduke knew they were there but wasn't showing quite the "intensity" that Dulci showed. The sparrows were completely oblivious so I wasn't going to pass the opportunity up waiting for Hayduke to make up his mind. I gave a gentle toss in their direction and I guess that's all the encouragment he needed. He bolted off the fist and plowed into the middle of the group about 15 ft. away, snatching up his first kill!

That was the moment I realized I'd forgotten any kind of camera, even my cell phone, at home! It was a beautiful sight to seem him with his wings spread munching on a freshly caught sparrow. I wasn't sure how he'd be with a sparrow in his feet as I approached but showing him a small tidbit was all it took to get him to sit still. I reached in, scooped up him and the sparrow and headed back to the car.

I snapped this crappy picture with my cell phone when I got home. I guess its better than nothing:

It was nothing too spectacular but I'm pretty pleased to have that first kill under my belt. It may take some more work to get him on starlings but we'll get there. We're on the board now and he's got the idea. I was out this afternoon and he wanted every sparrow we passed. Unfortunately none of them were in any position to actually get a slip. He did get one chance at a group in front of a restaurant but they saw him long before he actually got there. We'll try again tomorrow.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Home Delivery

I've been needing to get Hayduke some baggie starlings but haven't had much luck lately until today, and talk about LUCK!!

After my morning shopping I noticed a bunch of starlings hanging out outside Walmart so I tossed out a noose carpet with some bread on it and caught one in short order. Wahoo! Popped it in a box and headed home. I thought that was good enough but here comes the amazing part:

I'm sitting at home with the starling in the bathroom making all sorts of noise banging around in its box. I think I'm getting stereo sound cause I swear I hear more noise coming from behind me in the laundry room. The starling in the box stops for a second and sure enough, the noise continues! I thought it might be a mouse for a second but the noise was very "birdy". I pull out a flashlight and shine it behind the dryer and notice that the dryer hose is bouncing around, I tap on it and hear something darts back in to the dryer vent. Long story short, I pop off the dryer hose and wait for whatever is stuck in the vent to come back and out pops a starling!! I had to chase it around the house for a bit but now I have two baggies for him! How lucky is that?? A starling trap that leads right into my house! Too funny.

As far as his foot goes, there is still some swelling but he's not acting like it's bothering him at all so I figure I'll offer him a baggie today and see how it goes.


Hayduke on baggie starling #1

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Chasing Bunnies

I went out with some friends this past weekend to chase some bunnies with their birds and well, I guess I got caught up in the moment. They just sent me this sequence with the caption, "Who needs a red-tail when you've got Isaac?"

Can you spot the bunny in this first picture??
(Click to enlarge...look closely)

It flushes and I'm off...

I was trying to flush the bunny toward my friends but it ran the wrong way. And no, I didn't catch it. If only I had wings... :-)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Foot Update

I've been keeping Hayduke in his box during the day hoping that some calm and quiet time will let the foot heal. I've just been tossing the lure out for him in the evening and he doesn't seem to have issues hitting it with both feet.

The foot is still swollen but when I opened the box this morning he had the opposite leg tucked up, therefore putting all his weight on the swollen foot, so it must not hurt that bad (if at all?). It was an encouraging sign but the swelling still has me concerned. I'll continue to keep an eye on it but hopefully we'll be able to hunt again this weekend...

Monday, October 05, 2009

One Month Anniversary

Today marks the completion of 4 weeks since I took Hayduke off the trap.

This past weekend we had our first free flight and first hunt. Unfortunately, nothing spectacular to report. He wasn't interested in the numerous starling slips that presented themselves (I'll have to work on that) but would've gone after some sparrows had I not been stupid and held him back. It was a silly mistake on my part. I'd pulled into a parking space to kick some bushes at Walmart and a sparrow happen to be hopping underneath a parked car a few feet away. Hayduke slicked down and looked ready to go but the sparrow hopped behind a tire and out of sight. Just then Hayduke bated toward it but I held on to the jesses wanting to save the effort for the sparrows in the bushes. Of course, when I kicked the bushes and dozens of sparrows bolted out, he didn't go after them. Shoulda just let him go at the first one even if it was behind a tire...Oh well.

We ended our hunt by going after grasshoppers again. We caught three in short order. It's much easier to hunt grasshoppers when there's no creance attached! I think 2 of the 3 were caught after they initially dodged his attack and he flew them down several feet away.

There is some bad news to report however. I noticed on Sunday that he was favoring his left leg and upon closer examination his foot is a bit swollen. I've checked it over and can't find any visible damage. The bottom of the foot looks fine, the anklets aren't too tight, and he will put pressure on it if compelled to do so but something definitely happened. I'm leaving him in his giant hood today and hoping that its nothing more serious than a sprain. I can't think of a time when he might have injured it but it may have been something as simple as slamming one of those grasshoppers the wrong way. He was standing on it this morning when I fed him but it was still swollen so we'll see how he looks this evening.

Here's hoping for the best.