The opportunity arose for me to acquire a jack Merlin from a friend of a friend recently. I've been interested in flying a one of these guys for the past couple of years, but never really interested enough to try very hard to trap one. This year I decided was going to be the year; two days later I was offered this little guy. Guess I won't have to trap one after all.
He is an imprint from this year and arrived with the usual imprint vices, screaming and mantling, but in a the two weeks I've had him we've lessened both of those problems to tolerable levels. I'm also using a table top set-up with the bird that is working really well, an idea I swiped from Eric Edwards of Florida. See his Merlin hawking website: http://merlinfalconry.com/
Another issue came from the shipping. In transit every tail feather was broken about an inch from the tips. An unfortunate but fixable problem.
After making some calls around the country, I ended up locating a Merlin tail right here in Oklahoma from another falconer. After about 40 mins of imping he was nearly good as new.
Transporting him was the next challenge. I've flown large falcons almost exclusively for the past 7 or 8 years and the only small falcon I've had was a Kestrel. The setup I used with the Kestrel was adequate but left much to be desired. After staring at my falcon cadge off and on for several days, it finally hit me to add a small shelf perch in the corner one of the sides. It is attached with furniture screw anchors in the shelf and with winged machine screws through the back and side of the cadge. All I have to do is take out the screws by hand and its ready to go for two larger birds when the need arises.
I'm still pretty deeply involved in getting the new Hybrid ready for the hunting season. She has been going great to the kite for nearly two months now and has gone nearly 2000' on several occasions. Today was the first time I bagged her. She was a little slow to commit at first but poured on a little speed toward the end and nabbed the first pigeon she's ever seen in her life. A good start to what should be an interesting year.