Monday, November 09, 2009

That's More Like It

I only had an hour or so before I had to get to a meeting so I buzzed over to a nearby shopping center that usually produces at least one slip. (By the way, I've found that first thing in the morning is many times more productive than afternoon or evening. More birds, less people, all in all a good deal.)

I spot a large group of starlings behind a restaurant feeding on a grassy slope that leads down to some sort of irrigation pond or storm drain type watery area. There were probably 50 or so birds with their heads down, butts in the air but Hayduke didn't like what he saw for some reason and wouldn't take the slip. I tried to encourage him by giving a little toss but that just caused him to spread his wings and clamp down on my fist and his little flap scattered the starlings.

One part of the group headed over to another restaurant (this was at like 7 a.m. so everything was closed) so I headed in that direction but a giant crow came down in the middle of starlings so I thought it best to avoid that slip and continued on.

Another splinter group from the original flock was in front of the first restaurant and a single was dawdling by the curb in perfect position. Hayduke took the slip but the starling squirted out just beneath him with a loud squawk. But that's the second starling he's gone after whereas he was flat out refusing them before so I was happy.

I got him back on the fist and headed to another section of the shopping center. A crowd of seagulls was gathering around some trash near a shopping cart return area so I decided to scope the situation out. The seagulls quickly scarfed down the big pieces and left, leaving only crumbs...perfect for my sparrow friends to clean up. The seagulls had just barely left when 4 sparrows flitted over for clean up duty. Hayduke targeted one with its back turned and pounded it in a short 20 ft. flight.

Then the fun began. The tumble took him underneath a parked car so I jogged over and "stood guard" while he finished the sparrow off. But an early morning shopper rattled by with a cart which freaked him out and he carried the sparrow about 20 feet underneath another parked car. I walked over and glanced under the other car to confirm he was there just as the owner of the car rattled up with her shopping cart probably wondering why I was looking under her car. That caused Hayduke to really carry this time and I saw him glide about 50 yards under an isolated truck parked next to an island out in a far corner of the parking lot. I shrugged to the owner of the second car and said, "My bird was hiding under your car..." which garnered a quizzical look, and then jogged off to follow my wayward kestrel.

Luckily Hayduke is small enough that I don't think he can get much height carrying a sparrow. A 20 gram bird equals a quarter of his body weight, but maybe I was just lucky this time that he ended up somewhere accessible.

This time, out of range of the early shoppers he settled in and started plucking. I laid next to the island watching and taking pictures (wondering what would happen if the owner of this vehicle showed up...) and then finally was able to reach under and grab the sparrow, gently lifting Hayduke and his prize back on to my fist for one more victory photo before returning to my car and heading home just in time to make my meeting.

#2 in the bag.


Mrs. Strange said...

Awesome!!! Great job you guys! Doesn't it feel great?

One thing to keep my kes' and passage coops from carrying - I'd get them so wedded to the lure that I'd drop it next to me and they'd drag their catch back to it and eat on the lure.

In fact, a couple of them would actually call me to them if they were in deep cover (or under cars) so I'd bring their lure.

Worked like a charm! Just a though...

Isaac said...

Thanks Mrs. Strange. This kestrel is a character, he's one that just won't calm down and I doubt he'll ever be "rock steady". He'll come to the lure, I had to use it to get him back on Saturday after he'd had a few too many tidbits, but I don't know that he'll ever drag a kill to me. We'll see. Just gotta keep killing and get him in a routine. I'll try the lure trick next time. Thanks for stopping by!

Doug said...

Fantastic. Now he is in the groove. It makes me want to try my hand at another kestrel (though the coops might be interesting too). I'm glad it's going well. Keep the stories coming.

Isaac said...

Thanks Doug. I'll fly a Coops someday too but the time factor right now prohibits it. Someday...

Mom N said...

Wahoo! Keep the stories coming!