It's really not supposed to be this easy. Especially this early in the season when it's warm and birds are fat. But for whatever reason the falconry gods are smiling on us this year and things have just worked out.
After the typically long and drawn out process of obtaining a falconry license, my friend finally got what he needed on Thursday and we headed out bright and early on Saturday morning (well, maybe not "bright"...it was 5:30 a.m.). We were headed to an area quite a bit north of us and wanted to be there before the sun came up so we could find birds before they'd had breakfast. As the sun peaked over the horizon we decided to pull off the highway and start cruising the back roads to see what we could find. It wasn't long before I spotted a bird sitting low on some farm equipment overlooking a field.
It was about 50 yards out and just starting to get light so we couldn't be positive but it looked to be a first year red-tail so we dropped the trap. We backed up about a hundred yards and trained the binoculars on the bird. We were debating on whether or not it could see the trap when it launched...It headed toward the trap but just kept flying...and flying, and flying. Into a large tree another 200 yards away!
We took a right at the next intersection and headed the direction of the tree but there was no road next to the tree and another set for that bird was improbable so we just kept driving. It wasn't more than a hundred more yards over a slight rise when I spotted another bird sitting on a pole on the left side of the road. Again, it looked like a passage bird so we dropped the trap and turned around a hundred yards away.
I focused the binoculars on the bird on the pole again when my buddy suddenly says, "There's another bird! And I think it just came from the trap!" I glanced away from the binoculars in time to see a bird pitch up to a telephone pole directly above the trap. It had come from the same direction we'd just come from but we're not sure where exactly it had been. Was it the first bird we'd seen coming from the tree quite a ways away or was it another bird that we'd just not seen? Either way, we were counting our lucky stars that we now had a bird that was clearly interested in our trap sitting right above it. It seemed like a while but I'm sure it wasn't more than a couple minutes before the bird dropped right on to the trap!
We slowly crept up toward the trap since we couldn't quite tell if he was caught. He hopped around for a minute or so before we saw the tell tale flop and we knew we had him! As we drove up we could see we only had him by a toe so rather than take pictures of him on the trap we hurriedly gathered him up and got him back to the car. Passage male red-tail, exactly what we were after.
It was only 7:30.
We both kinda looked at each other and I said, "You wanna keep trapping?" He said, "No reason really..." So we headed home to jess up his new bird:
Two days after he gets his license he's got his first bird. He must be doing something right! 1078g with the sock and the hood. Started regaining the fist on its own the first night. It's gonna be a fun season!