Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day of Release

I decided today was the day that my Prairie Falcon should be returned to the wild.  I'm hoping that it is still early enough for her to migrate back to her breeding grounds, most likely in Wyoming or Colorado, to establish a territory.  This was the first Prairie that I've flown and I learned a lot from her.  I got her to fly to the kite at a 1000+ feet, she took baggie ducks from a good pitch, she was as tame as a kitten, but when it came to hunting wild ducks things just didn't click for her.  A typical hunt consisted of her climbing to a decent pitch, coming over the pond, I would flush the ducks, she would fold up into her stoop, the ducks would fly away, and she would crash into the tall grass with a Song Sparrow or Wren or whatever other small passerine that decided to flush from the edge of the pond with the ducks.  It is illegal to pursue non-game migratory birds, but in Oklahoma we have a law that helps falconers if their birds catch unintended prey. If a falconry raptor catches non-game prey while hunting legal prey you are not breaking the law as long as you do not take possession of the unintended prey and the raptor eats it on the ground.  

When the object is to hunt ducks and the falcon you have put countless hours into training doesn't want to play the game; it can be very frustrating, although somewhat humorous at times.  Oh well, I guess she is showing she has what it takes to survive in the wild.  I think that if I wanted to put more time into this bird I could eventually get her to take ducks, but with starting a new Hybrid, and the older Gyrfalcon, I think that it is best for both of us to sever our arrangement.  It's been real, and it's been fun, but now I'm really sure we're done.  (I definitely want to fly another one in a few years, "nothing hits like a Prairie.")

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Major Award

Ok, so it's not a major award, but it is nice to be recognized for the hard work that we have put into our education program over the past four years.  I received the President's Award from the Oklahoma Association of Environmental Education and the Sutton Center received the Outstanding Organization Award for all of our education efforts.  For those not in the know, we have a free flight bird program that features mostly native birds, with a few exotics as well.  We take this program into Oklahoma Schools to teach them about how/why birds and humans have such a close relationship.  It's not just a "mom and pop" show though.  We are part of the University of Oklahoma and our program is a full on production with backdrops, sound systems, video screens, live cameras, not to mention the live birds.  I have worked in past for a major company in the bird show business and this program is not all that different except for the fact that we have far more educational materials that were developed to the state standards as outlined by the Oklahoma School System.  I'm not aware of any other program in the country that puts on this level of free flight program for free.

Midas, a Golden Eagle, our newest native bird who is now in training.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

*New Reg Update*

Dave, our regulation liaison with the state, has just reported this:

"Our bill (dropping the non-resident falconry permit) was presented to the house wildlife comm. yesterday.  It passed by an 11-0 vote.  Mr. Hatcher and Peoples were there to answer any questions the legislatures may have had.  There were no questions.  The bill will now go before the entire house for a vote.  That should happen next week.  Senator Ford will then present the bill to the senate wildlife comm.  The bill should be law 10 days after this session closes.  That means sometime in May.  I thought it was interesting that the National and state chapters of the Humane Society were at the committee hearing yesterday.  They were there to object to the proposed bear season.  They did not comment on our falconry bill.  It seems they have bigger fish to fry.  That seems to have worked in our favor throughout this process.  The bear season also passed by an 11-0 vote."

Still on track for January 1st, 2010 and things are looking good for the 2009 NAFA Meet as well.

*update* 2-17-09  
HB 1691 passed the full house this afternoon by a vote of 99 to 0.  It now goes to the senate wildlife committee.  It wil not be heard there for a few weeks.

Monday, February 2, 2009

In the Eagle's Nest

I forgot to post this before. At work we put cameras in an Eagle's nest each year for students and others to view free on our website. We also have a major fund raiser every year in Tulsa called Wild Brew. Our development team decided a while back to do marketing for this event on YouTube. Thus, our video blog, or vlog, was born.

This year when I climbed into the nest, I took along a video camera and made it into a blog. Here is what I got....

To see the Eagle camera online go to our website:

If your in the Tulsa area on August 1st come to Wild Brew it is always a lot of fun!

New Bird

Here is a pic of the new bird.  He's another Gyr/Peregrine Hybrid, but this is Gyr/Anatum cross, whereas the last one was a Gyr/Peales.  The only real difference between the two so far is size. This bird is flying to the lure at around 700 grams, compared to the 770 grams of my last hybrid.  I'm excited to get this bird flying.  His mother is a wild take eyas from Wyoming taken a couple of years ago.  So this bird is 1/2 first generation captive bred.  Doubtful that this will make any difference at all, but it is interesting to me that a good portion of this bird's genes still come from survival of the fittest.

Just a little bonus picture of me and Raul's cast of Aplomado Falcons from a few months ago.