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2013/2014 - Cisco's 9th Season,
Farrah's 3rd in Houston
The previous season log
can be found at
Cisco's 8th Season
Please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newest Updates at Top - If you want seasonal tallies going back
to 2006, send an email.
April 23, 2014 -
As I write this, the season is over. I am exercising
the hawks every other day in the cul-de-sac in front of the
house. Both hawks caught lots of cotton rats, 174 between
them. Each hawk hunted about 75 days, with Farrah's starting
earlier by a month; Cisco hunted for a couple of weeks after
Farrah was put up. Excluding the ones caught in the front
yard, there was only one squirrel and a few sparrows for
Cisco this season. Combined the hawks caught 38 rabbits with
Farrah's catching a few more as Cisco struggled early
because of his focus on rodents. Once he got going he was
good and consistent, and I believe that he prefers the
smaller eastern cottontails to the swamp rabbits he had been
catching in previous seasons when we hunted closer to the
coast. Most of the this season was spent hunting west of
Katy. I did not attend the NAFA meet this year. Both
hawks crushed their previous season totals because of the
cotton rats. The hawks had some really great flights on
rabbits this season, aesthetically the best I have seen.
I have two new apprentices, Corby, a young Army veteran and
family man, and Amy, who has probably been the most
dedicated of any apprentice I have ever had. Amy is planning
to take her falconry test in May. Amy is the first
apprentice who I have allowed to handle my hawks; she did
well. She has called Cisco to the fist and traded him off a
couple of kills. Farrah is too disagreeable to be a training
hawk, but Cisco is tolerant.
March 17, 2014 - A scary finish to Farrah's
happen quickly. It's pure luck that Farrah is still with us.
Farrah caught her first rabbit of season on September 15th. I
decided to close her season in mid-March after six months of
hunting, and continue to hunt with Cisco until month's end.
Monday afternoon I took Farrah to the RV park where we have
permission to hunt; my friend Amy was there waiting. Here the
hawks have taken scores of cotton rats and plenty of rabbits
this season. Farrah was high in weight, but this is not
typically much of an issue with her. I usually just note it in
my log book and move on.
This day Farrah was a little distant, not following too well,
but put in some good chases on cottontails. On the east side of
the main parking lot, about 150 yards south of I-10, she caught
her probably 85th cotton rat of the season. She has a tendency
to carry them so I gave her some space. With cotton rats I let
her break in, usually staying back for a few minutes, then move
in and transfer her off with a good chunk of meat, often more
cotton rat. Today she was jumpy, flying a short distance up the
ditch toward the highway. I gave her more time to break in but
she moved again. She was still a long way from the road, but I
didn't like the direction she was heading, so decided to walk a
huge circle out to the field and approach her from the other
side, to push her south, away from the busy interstate. This
didn't work and she flew the good sized rat to a five foot pole
at the end of the ditch, right by the feeder road. Now I was
really getting concerned, but still didn't think she would try
to carry the 120 gram rat across nine lanes of road. Concern
quickly morphed into panic as she headed across I-10, which was
loaded with fast moving traffic. I don't think she was ever more
than eight feet off the ground as she stupidly blundered her way
across. My knees were bent, my mouth was open, and I watched
between my fingers as she cleared the road and disappeared from
sight.There was great relief but we still had to get her, hoping
that she would not try to fly back across. Amy stayed well back
during all of the preceding events. We headed back to the car, a
good ten minute trek. It was meaningless but reassuring to hear
her on the telemetry receiver. We worked our way north of the
interstate and without too much effort we found Farrah calmly
munching on the rat in an open field about 50 yards off the
road. I called her to the fist with a chick and grounded her for
the next six months.
Wednesday we had a few minutes of high anxiety with Cisco as
well. He took off soaring with a pair of resident red-tails,
truly "specking out" and disappearing from my view as I
frantically waved the lure and blew the whistle. I was ready to
hop in the car to chase him downwind with the receiver but
he suddenly returned. He was at a very good weight and
took a small cottontail.
catch in the
Cisco's had a renaissance with
cotton tails in the last couple of weeks with his
catching four in the last five field trips. Today,
Superbowl Sunday, I took Cisco out to Katy with my
friend Amy accompanying us. It was drizzly, cold
and very breezy. Because of the wind, I considered
not flying Cisco, but he continues to handle the
wind, even 20 to 30 kt. winds like we had today. I
was not expecting too much gamewise, just wanted
to get him out. Cisco was screaming when I pulled
him hooded out of the hawk box, eager to hunt. He
immediately got blown downwind, but perched on top
of a large backhoe boom. I showed him the T perch
and he worked his way upwind. Amy and I walked the
ditches and Cisco was very intent, once of twice
plunging into the cover. Then he put in a very
nice flight, hovering over the vegetation and
returning to the T pole. I told Amy that any
rabbit that ran out into the open in any direction
would be safe in this wind - the ones in danger
were the ones that stayed in the cover. I was
wrong. A rabbit bolted out from the ditch mostly
down wind, and in a few seconds I saw Cisco with
his feet in a large grass clump, but heard no
rabbit. I told Amy that he missed. I was wrong.
Cisco caught another cottontail. The Uberbuzzard
This season the two hawks have caught 137 cotton
rats between them - 71 for Cisco, 66 for Farrah.
Already Cisco has caught nearly as many so far
this season, as in his previous eight combined.
There are a lot of them out there.
Cisco took a couple of sparrows recently.
Farrah is the best rabbit hawk I have flown, and
is continuing to get better in her third season
with me, fourth overall.
January 31, 2013
- Cisco's and
to those of you who read this web
site. I have not kept it up to
date. Partly it has been the fact
that events have not been that
remarkable, at least until
recently. But in the last week or
so my hawks have put in two
spectacular flights on
cottontails, with Farrah's
resulting in a kill.
morning out in Katy, Cisco put in his best-ever
flight on a rabbit. I had a
young man in the field with me who
had never seen trained hawks. We
flew Farrah first, she chased a rabbit or two and
quickly took two cotton rats. We put her in the
truck and brought out Cisco. After Cisco blinked
at three or four perfectly catchable cottontails,
we flushed one that ran toward us, and then
escaped running along the ditch behind.
Cicso gave it a look but would not commit. I shook
my head in frustration. Suddenly Cisco bolted from
the T pole, flying hard and fast perpendicular to
the ditch and out into the open. It was apparent
he was chasing a rabbit that was a very long way
off. About 150 yards out he pitched up, did a
wing-over and a teardrop stoop to the ground. It
was spectacular - his best rabbit flight in nine
seasons. I ran out to him because I thought he
might have scored and there was a pair of resident
red-tails sitting on power poles about a 1/4 mile
off. Cisco was sitting on the ground - the bunny
had escaped. I've always said that the best
flights usually result in misses.
We went back to the same ditch and continued to
flush. Cisco grabbed an eastern cottontail that
was running through the heavy cover along the
week, Farrah caught a cottontail
after a wonderful chase that
probably consumed 150 yards. We
flushed a rabbit out of the ditch
and across the dirt road, with
Farrah starting well behind. HEr
competence as a rabbit hawk
showed. Darting in and out of the
cover, pitching up and diving, it
was the best rabbit flight from a
Harris' hawk that I have seen in
years. She grabbed the rabbit just
as it made it to some good cover.
I told my friend Amy, "Farrah just
made the A Team."
December 15, 2013
- Season of the rat
Lots of cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) this
season. Between the two hawks we have a hundred. Cisco has
caught almost nothing else, just a couple of rabbits and a
small squirrel. The Harris' hawk has put a half dozen
rabbits in the freezer to go along with her cotton
rats. There are lots of rabbits out there, and
Farrah caught two rabbits on her first two trips to the
field back in September. That made me optimistic about the
season. Cisco is so efficient with cotton rats that he
sits on the T pole and slams them with ease, often
ignoring rabbits that he could catch. Then it's a race to
transfer him off before he eats too much. I have taken
Cisco to the woods to hunt squirrels, but he twice left
the woods to catch field rodents. I have brought
Cisco's weight down and we're getting better chases.
Farrah chases the cotton rats around missing a lot and we
get flights on rabbits too. Like a lot of passage Harris'
hawks Farrah has a tendency to carry, but I have that
largely under control. I give her space initially, then
when she breaks into the rat I move in and trade her off.
If she is in the open with no cover, she carries almost
every time, but usually not far.
19, 2013 - A long
We are well into the season. Cisco is still heavy,
mostly laziness on my part, but this week I will get him
ready. His high weight has resulted in his blinking at
rabbits, though he grabbed a big swamp rabbit last Sunday
morning at De Soto Street. It managed to pull loose. Cisco
and Farrah now have over 50 cotton rats between them, and
I have been transferring them off. Farrah has taken a half
dozen rabbits along with the boatload of cotton rats.
Until lately I never thought of cotton rats as a nuisance,
more of a consolation prize.
Look at this very cool picture of Farrah:
Late September: Andrew Barnes of Monroe, Ohio bought a
couple of perches from me for his new red-tailed hawk. She
was trapped at 52 ounces.
26, 2013 - 99SE
I flew Farrah after a three day fast, something I
have never done before, but she was hugely heavy after
Monday's hunt. At dawn today I took her out toward Katy,
TX to a field I refer to as 99SE in my falconry logbook.
It's still warm out, about 5 or 6 degrees above average.
That doesn't sound like much, but it's huge. Farrah caught
cottontail and another
Eating a trade-off chick after her rabbit catch
After a rain a few days later
|Joe Philabaums' red-tail, Rocky after a
little beak coping
The hawks on the side yard at my house. Chillin'........
23, 2013 - Trois
Farrah at 872 grams! Caught three cotton
rats, but carried two
of them. I managed to trade her off, but this carrying
business is beginning. Will be too heavy to fly on
Wednesday - I'll try Friday at a different field. Too many
cotton rats here.
21, 2013 - Nice
Weather and a trey of
Farrah at 861 (fatty). Saturday morning - cool and
overcast, the nicest hunting weather. It rained a lot the
last two days, and the hawk got damp quickly plunging into
the thick grass. In a hour we had three cotton rats. No
rabbits flushed. She has caught seven rats and not carried
one, though the last one today she dragged under a bush. I
managed to get her on the fist. She had a mega-crop, and
will be heavier yet on Monday, her next scheduled hunt. I
am targeting her weight at around 850 grams, which is more
likely to be about 870.
Jim Ince and Mike Weigel headed to the coast this morning
to trap merlins.
The rain shorted out the power supply on my IP camera -
have to get that fixed, and protect it better. Try http://cisco.webhop.org
Email me for user and password.
19, 2013 -
Farrah's on a roll in the
Since last Saturday, in four outings, Farrah has
taken an eastern cottontail, a swamp rabbit, and four
cotton rats, two this morning. She has been flying very
heavy, today over 850 grams again, but so far has not
carried. Her flying weight is comparable to Cisco's his
first season. Cisco is now about a month from being ready
to fly - I am eager to get him out with the new dog,
Arnie. Farrah hates the dog..............
|Farrah with eastern cottontail, barely
visible at lower right.
|Cisco and his new pal, Arnie.........
9, 2013 - A visit
from Matthew Mullenix
My friend Matthew Mullenix, the eminent falconer
and author from Baton Rouge, was in town and brought along
his little Harris' hawk, Ernie. Matt wanted to hunt with
him so I shared my favorite Harris' hawk field, which is
just a few minutes from my house. Matt put Ernie up on the
T-pole, and off they went. There were lots of cotton rats
running in the thick grass, and the hawk pursued, but
without any great zest, and Ernie was panting. Matt was
concerned about possible carbon monoxide poisoning, as
had gotten stuck in
traffic leaving Baton Rouge. Ernie ultimately caught three
of the cotton rats, but Matt was unconvinced and took some
precautions for a few days following. Ernie's doing fine
Matt and Ernie in Houston
Ernie later with a kill
14, 2013 - A couple of days later - "
head start on hawking
From another email to same folks:
- again. I'm really not trying to run up the
score. Matt (Mullenix) called it an "unfair head start
on hawking season." I figured Sunday was a
fluke. Today Cisco at 965, and acting keen; I put him up in
the trees and called him twice to the fist. Some
Mississippi kites gave him grief and he started chirping
like a downy chick in the nest. Then he spotted
another buck squirrel. Sunday's squirrel got a couple
of bites on him, but today he wasn't having any of that. The
squirrel was hiding in the fork of the tree. Smack! A
hallux to the base of the brain pan, and that was it.
But he's going back on the creance. He's mashing
around in the trees a little too much for the molt.
May 12, 2013 - Cisco's still hunting - 1st kill
of ninth season
Hard to see but that's Cisco wing hanging out of crotch of
tree. Has squirrel #2 in talons
"This is some vacation............"
From an email to a bunch of friends:
I've been flying the hawks during the off
season on the cul-de-sac in front of my house.
Friendly neighbors, no traffic, and good exercise.
Cisco I sometimes put on a zip line, depending on his
attitude. The Harris' is like a pup. I went into
the house to get something he other day and she
sat on the peak of the roof waiting for me to come out.
Cisco has "horizon eye" so I watch him. I fly
him about 1 1/2 ounce over his good flying weight. This is a
48 hour weight, alternate day feeding.
Farrah's relatively much fatter. The
hawks had already nearly caught a squirrel or two .
Today Cisco's response was good, he flew from the
neighbor's tree for a tidbit, and then back to the tree.
He spotted a couple of squirrels in an adjacent tree
and started his chess match. Hop, hop, hop, and mate.
A big male cat squirrel full of fight, with Cisco's
trying to get out of the thick tree and to the ground.
He got about 170 grams of rabbit for his trouble, and
I gave the head to Farrah.
Cisco loves those deep bath pans..............
Cisco: Not realizing it's time to slack off
Cisco: More like it......
Farrah's Summer Exercise
2 Days later: "Not gonna mess with squirrels..........."