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Note: The following is a variation of an
article I published in THA's Spring 2007 On The Wing.  I realized that the setup described originally was too cumbersome.  The pictures show the original setup, which worked all right, but was too heavy.  Folks have used a variation of this for years; there is a description of it in Liam McGranaghan's red-tail book.
Chuck Redding

A Summer Training System
Update 6/21/2010 by Chuck Redding

If you have a bird that will fly to the fist during the molt, and want to exercise him in the backyard, there is a simple way to do it.  Initially I heard of something like this from Cody Fields and by coincidence Mike Wiegel rigged up a similar system when he was training his kestrel last fall.    The system is simple, as you can see from the picture.  It consists of two bow perches, 50 feet of 3mm yachting line and a small smooth metal ring, 1" diameter.  Stretch the line out across the yard, leaving plenty of slack, with a perch at each end.  Fasten each end of the line to a perch.  Tie the bird with his leash to the small ring.  Set the bird on a perch, walk to the other perch and call him to the fist.  As he flies to you, he will be constrained to follow the line, as the ring glides smoothly along it.  Unless the bird flies low to the ground right along the line, he will have to work, because of the sideways tension of the line.  

Another use is with a new bird.  This system can be a good transition from flying indoors to flying on the creance in a wide open area.  The system can be employed safely in almost any yard, regardless of the fences, tree cover, proximity of transformers, etc.  Nevertheless, use caution
and ensure that there is nothing along the way that he can fly to and injure himself.


System shown here employs the much heavier 5mm line and a bullet block pulley, rather
than a smooth metal ring.