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.")


Albert A Rasch said...

Well, it sounds like time well spent. Let her go, wave goodbye, and work on the next one!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

Scott said...

There's something I've always loved about releasing birds back to the wild. It just feels so good. I'm not sure if it's just knowing that they really belong there and hoping that they'll go find a mate and propagate the species, or the knowledge that I wont have to clean up after them all summer. I hate inter-mewing birds!