Saturday, June 24, 2006

A bird in the hand...

Today was my second foray in bird handling. I was graduated from the kindergarten birds (screech owls) to some bigger and badder ones.

Male American Kestrel

Female American Kestrel

My favorite so far: Lucy, a Peregrine Falcon. You may recognize her from a previous post.

Now, the smaller birds are light and don't grip very tightly. This is how tightly Lucy grips: With one of your hands, grab your other arm and squeeze hard. That's a Lucy grip. And boy, was she heavy. A screech owl weighs about as much as a TV remote. Lucy feels like a big cat hanging on your arm. She is one of the easier birds to handle (so far) because I didn't have to chase her around the mew to get her on my glove. If you calmly approach her, she will step up onto your gloved hand. Looking at the above picture, you can see that my arm has dropped from the correct 45 degree angle to one that would encourage her to climb higher, as in up my arm, which is not protected. Guess I better hit the gym and do some weights.

This has been such a blast so far. I heart RAPTOR!


LauraHinNJ said...

That pic of you with Lucy is cool - I'm so jealous!

Are the birds calm on the fist - or do they flail around any?

I notice you're not holding their feet at all - so they perch on you just like a tree branch?

So many questions - sorry!

John said...

Peregrines have long been one of my favorite birds - going way back.

Being used to small birds, I had not thought about the strength of a raptor's grip as an issue in raptor-handling. But when I think about it, that should have been obvious to me.

Susan Gets Native said...

John: Thanks for visiting! Come back anytime! The Peregrine was so caught me by surprise because I was used to the little birds.
Hey, I like it when people ask me questions. It makes me feel like I know what I'm talking about.
They DO flail a bit, depending on the bird. It's called bating. And they are perched on my hand just like a tree branch. I will do a post later explaining all the stuff that is involved in tethering a bird.

LauraHinNJ said...

That's right it's called bating - now I remember.

The accipters are more prone to it or is it an individual personality thing?