Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Life in General, family and flocks

My daughter Hannah got her gall bladder taken out over a week ago at Ellis Hospital. She is in Albany Med now, hopefully today they will figure out why she is in so much pain. ...I know that you read my blogs Hannah, I love you and you need to get back home. Sorry I gave you crap about your boyfriend last night, just remember I have been with you longer and I love you more. "If" I bring him with me tonight when I visit.....you had better not spend more time with him (than me) or I will make him ride home on the back of the truck. Better tell him to wear a jacket.:)

This morning the phone rang at 7 am, a woman in town had found a leg-banded racing pigeon sitting by her door in town. She brought him up to our facility and there is nothing wrong with him. When they race pigeons, they let them loose a long way from home and they fly so long and hard that they often crash from exhaustion. I will feed him for a few days, let him rest and then let him continue home. I'll attach a note to him, maybe it is one of Mike Tyson's pigeons and he will send a donation for saving him.

The foundation of our large flock of pigeons started with a couple of racing pigeons that had been hit by hawks during the race. They were lucky enough to have escaped and be found by caring people that brought them to me. The one racer had a compound fractured wing, I wrapped him and for months he healed. Thinking that he would never be able to fly again I really didn't know what to do with him. I let him go one day and he flew around the barn several times, landed and looked at me with this expression like, "I think Ill stay, I like you". He has never left; he shacked up with a couple of female racers (that had come in from exhaustion) and I now have a beautiful flock of nearly 50 racing pigeons now that don't do much.

I just left school to run home to get Emma's book for piano lessons after school and as I pulled in our driveway I noticed a strange lack of pigeons anywhere on our barn. Then I saw him, our wild resident Coopers Hawk, sitting on the fence in front of the barn waiting for them to come back outside. The first time I saw the Coopers Hawk fly away with one of my pigeons, I was not impressed. Now I call it population control and look forward to seeing all of the pigeons flee the roof of the barn. They fly inside where they will be safe from his fighter jet like attacks. The Coopers Hawk will attempt to fly under the radar by flying along the back outside of the barn and he will propel himself over the roof where he knows the pigeons like to sunbathe. The pigeons are not dumb to his attacks and when one of the birds "on watch" sees him emerge from the woods they all get alerted and hide in the barn. I've only seen the Coopers Hawk enter the barn once; he couldn't figure out how to get back out. After  half an hour of chasing him around with a net trying to save him, I called off his rescue because I was stressing him out. He eventually figured it out and got back outside on his own and I haven't seen him back in the barn since. I don't mind that the Coopers Hawk looks at my beautiful flock of non-racing pigeons as a meal once or twice a week. Everything needs to eat and he keeps the population of pigeons under 50.

This past weekend we did the Wildlife Festival at the Power Authority in Blenheim. It was a great crowd, nice day and fun for all. While there I has talking with a fellow falconer that was also doing a Bird of Prey show. He has a great collection of Raptors, many are so exotic that I had never seen one. Not long ago, our own "Skinner", a Harris Hawk that was the personal hunting bird of the past President of the NY Falconers Association, died. Ever since Skinner retired with me I loved him. A Harris Hawk is what a lot of the falconers use to hunt, they are not native raptors to our area. The Native Americans called them Wolf Hawks because in the southwest deserts, they are the only known hawks that actually hunt in family packs. They work together to make sure that the family survives. In the same blog that the pigeons work together to try to survive the Coopers Hawk attacks, The Harris Hawks will position themselves on cactus strategically while another member of the family scares the prey in their direction. The family works together as a team. Harris Hawks are very smart, Skinner would jump up and down on squirrel nests to get them to come out where he could get them.

 As I was sitting with my display, I was watching the 3 Harris Hawks interact and fly around during the show at The Raptor Trust exhibit...very cool. I talked with the director, met up with him the next day and we will be adding two juvenile Harris Hawks to our shows and exhibit. Their names will be "Bonnie and Clyde", legendary outlaws and partners in crime. For those of you that have seen my shows, you know that I do not name wild animals, I don't believe in it. These Harris Hawks are not native, they were captive bred and I look forward to working with them.

 I have not had the heart to dispose of Skinner's body. I had him in one of the freezers where we keep our frozen hawk food. Yesterday I removed his leg band and put it on my keychain to remember him by. He was cremated in our outdoor wood furnace and he got to fly to the other side. I know that he is pleased it took two birds to replace him. I look forward to sharing Bonnie and Clyde with all of you in the future.

Speaking of legbands, I had a man give me a leg-bone with a federal legband on it at my show this weekend. He had found it a creek in Arksville NY while fishing. I should get a report back in the next couple of days what species it was and where it came from. Wearing a legband has its benefits, the poor bird is long gone but that leg-bone with a band on it will stay with me forever in his memory. I have to figure out the info from that legband on the pigeon that came in this a.m. next...unless anyone knows Mike Tyson and can see if he wants to give us a celebrity endorsement and sponsor a real pigeon house at our facility like I saw in Colonial Williamsburg.

Till next time, send healing prayers to Hannah and I will blog again soon.  

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