Chuck's Falconry

Wait Until Fall................

 


www.chucksfalconry.com (redirects to http://virtualvideo.cc/falconry)

A Web Site about Hawking in Houston, TX

Caution: This web site is devoted to hunting with birds of prey.
Some images may not be suitable for everyone

There are many pictures - DSL or Cable Internet Highly Recommended
Web Page Updated May 27, 2013

Click On These Other Links Within This Website:  
Cisco the Redtail, 1st Season

Apollo The Kestrel

Mark Reindel's Page

Kestrel Bullet Points
Cisco 2nd Season

Entertaining Story by Matt Mullenix

Jim Ince's Page

Cisco 3rd Season
Newspaper Articles

Articles - THA Magazine


Cisco 4th Season
Bravo the Redtail
New Perch System


Cisco 5th Season
Falconry Gear for Sale
Buy a $65 Perch

Cisco 6th Season
Businesses to Avoid
Handy Trapping Anklets

Cisco 7th Season
Improved Falconry Test
Great Mew Tethering

Cisco 8th Season
Other Falconry Links
Summer Training System

Cisco 9th Season
Non Falconry Page
Light Weight Hawk Box

Cisco 10th Season
How To Make Hawk Trap
Armored Squirrel Chaps




Cisco in The Press


Photo by Stephanie Jennings

My red-tailed hawk, as of May of 2013, has finished his eighth falconry season.  The hawk has been on the cover of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine and featured in articles in World of Falconry, Galveston Daily News, The Falconry and Raptor Conservation Magazine, as well as in articles that I have written for Texas Hawking Association's On The Wing.  There was a feature article on him in The Houston Chronicle in late November of 2012, written by Annette Baird. Cisco is currently  displayed on the cover page of the Texas Hawking Association's web site.  Despite his celebrity status, he remains quite humble.

Some examples:

  • Texas Hawking Association home page: THA;
  • Text of Joey Richard's Article in Galveston Daily News:  Cisco Killer King; PDF's of Same Article:  Killer King PDF's;
  • Houston Chronicle Article on Jim Ince and his peregrine, with a brief reference of Cisco  Chronicle;
  • Picture of Cisco, 2nd Honorable Mention in Western Sporting / L.L. Electronics' Photo Contest  Photo Contest;
  • Same picture employed in Western Sporting ad:  Sporting;
  • Cover of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, Nov, 2008.  Cover In an  article within that edition, there were a number of pictures of him taken by Kendall Larsen, but without attribution;
  • On the cover of 002 Houston magazine, August, 2011: 002 I wrote a small article to accompany the pictures.  The models held the bird hooded, then picture was "PhotoShopped"
  • Houston Chronicle Article, 2012: Neighborhood

 


"Alex", my first bird after three decades, a passage female American kestrel, two days before she was attacked and driven off by a female sharp-shin hawk.
Photo: Russell Bryant on 12/29/2004

"Apollo", haggard tiercel American kestrel - He was lost April 25, 2005, after taking his first sparrow, staying out overnight, catching a lizard, and finally escaping my trap.  This picture was taken in my backyard in Houston.  The hawk is a little stiff in this picture.  A sharp-shinned hawk flew over just a few minutes before this picture was taken. 
Photo: Stephanie Redding on 2/11/2005




"Bravo", passage tiercel redtail hawk, in his mew, taken early November 2005, a few weeks before he flew off.  His loss made me consider quitting falconry; shortly after that I acquired Cisco.  As of this update (4/6/2012) it has been nearly seven years.
Photo: Chuck Redding



"Cisco", passage tiercel redtail hawk with the first rabbit of the day, March 11, 2006, Ft Worth, TX at the "Texas Outlaw Dirt-Hawkers First Annual Game Cookout and Mini-Meet"
Photo: Krys Langevin



dart

Dart, a captive bred Harris' hawk.  A refugee of Hurricane Ike, he was given to me by Chris Comeaux after Chris sustained heavy damage to his house on Bolivar Peninsula. He became an excellent game hawk, taking small birds and rabbits.  As a rabbit hawk he is one of the best I have been in the field with.  After flying him for more than a season, I gave him to Lynne Holder. Read more about Dart in Cisco's 4th and 5th Season pages. (Photo: Bob Dalton)

Cisco, March 8, 2008.  The capture of this squirrel demonstrates Cisco's capacity and versatility.  The squirrel was hidden from the hawk on that little tree behind me.  The hawk flew between the gap at about shoulder level, snatching the squirrel from the back side of the tree as he went through.
Photo by Mike Wiegel

MsE House
This little beauty is a one year old red-shouldered hawk I acquired "temporarily" from Charlotte Rohack in July of 2010.  The picture taken in 2011; I had to release her before Thanksgiving when she became face aggressive.  As of April 2012, about six months after release, she appears to be resident at Charlotte Rohack's up in Bryan.  "Ms. Elbert" liked to chase starlings and cotton rats, but enjoyed just hanging out with me, more than anything else.  I never saw a bird complete the molt a quickly as she did.  Cisco was in the middle of his molt on the day this picture was taken. More about her in "Cisco's 6th Season" page, and Cisco 7th Season
old days

Here is Ms. Elbert in a picture taken by Bob Dalton - January of 2011.  Quite a transformation, no?

Spring, 2012. The newest member of "Team Cisco," a passage female Harris' hawk in her second season; I call her Farrah.  She flies at around 810 grams (including anklets, jesses, and transmitter), roughly 110 grams lighter than Cisco.  She was given to me by Keith Denman over Thanksgiving of 2011, about a week after I had to release Ms. Elbert.  Farrah had a solid first season, pacing Cisco with the rabbit and squirrels.  I picked her up in Bryan, TX on the way back from the 2011 NAFA meet in Vernal, UT.  In this picture she has a crop, the result of eating a large cotton rat. (Photo: George Nalbandian)

Elbert a month or two before her release. If you look carefully you'll see starling feathers in the palm of my hand.  She caught two starlings on this particular morning. (Photo: George Nalbandian)


For me this says it pretty well:

"The reward that comes from practicing falconry is, and has to be, a feeling of your own personal satisfaction; that, and that alone. Chances are no one else will be around when your hawk is at her best. Falconry is a tedious, time consuming effort with long periods of stress and anxiety punctuated by heartbeats of gut-wrenching visceral satisfaction so intense that is impossible to put into words."

Lifted from The California Hawking Club Apprenticeship Manual


And this:

"There are a hundred things that can happen in falconry, and only two of them are good."

Overheard of Lisa Cherry at NAFA meet in Amarillo, TX - November 2008


On the last day of 2004, my passage kestrel (Alex) got driven off by a sharp-shinned hawk, so I decided to build this web site.

A little background. After being away from falconry for over 35 years I decided to return to it. As a kid I had trained a couple of red-tail hawks, and fooled around some with American kestrels.
Through an old friend and falconer, Mark Reindel, who lives up on the east coast, I met Jim Ince, a master falconer living in Bellaire, Texas, who agreed to be my sponsor. Required because of state and federal regulations, a sponsor can be invaluable as a mentor, especially for a novice . I accompanied Jim a few times while he hunted with his tiercel peregrine. At some point he mentioned that folks were having real success hunting birds with American kestrels, and that a friend of his had written a treatise on the subject*. That was probably the catalyst. At that point I started back into it. I learned about the regulations, passed the written test, and acquired the necessary equipment. I had the hawk house ("mews") built, and then had it inspected by game wardens from Texas Parks and Wildlife, another requirement. After paying the fees, I obtained the state and federal government falconry permits. With some input from my sponsor, I built a bal-chatri hawk trap, basically a small cage with a bait animal inside and fishing line slip nooses on the top. This activity took a fair amount of time and energy starting in the spring of 2004.

I trapped the juvenile kestrel, "Alex," late in the day on October 10, 2004.
I had previously caught and released two adult female kestrels, but was trying to catch a juvenile bird. She was trapped southwest of Rosenberg, TX, where she was flying around with three or four other kestrels, possibly family members. They put on quite an aerial display for about an hour before this juvenile female hit the trap, just before I was about to leave and regroup for the following weekend. Jim Ince was a little surprised when I showed up at his house with an unhooded bird in the box. "What? You didn't hood her?" If I had four hands I could have hooded her, but as it was, I barely got her off the trap. First, my car was on the wrong side of the road. Because of the way I held her, she had a great opportunity to bite my thumb off. I was holding the trap in one hand, bird in the other and I couldn't locate my cutters to snip the unrelaxed nooses holding her leg. Then some guy drove by and yelled at me, telling me I was breaking the law. So I just stuffed the bird into the shoe box, figuring that Jim would figure out a way of getting her out of there, which he did. He got her out of the box using a dark room and a flash light. He hooded her, put jesses on her and then unhooded her. She turned out to be an agreeable bird, eating on Jim's fist within minutes.

Named after a tiercel eyas kestrel that I had as a kid, within a day she was flying to my fist, and was a hit with everybody. She was flying free in a few weeks, but encountered accipiters (sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks) regularly. On two occasions she was attacked by Cooper's hawks in the air but did not seem overly upset. In fact she chased the first one after I drove it off. On another occasion, at a nearby park, a small sharp-shinned hawk attacked her and she turned on it. The two birds met in mid-air, I yelled, and the sharpie headed off. During her short falconry career she killed a couple of house sparrows, and was on the verge of really hunting. On the morning of 12/31, just two days after the picture above was taken, she was sitting in a tree on our street in north Houston. She started her shrill alarm call "kek-kek-kek," then she flew from the branch. I knew there must be a hawk nearby. A female sharp-shinned hawk appeared from across the street, high in the air, speeding like a bullet toward her. Alex headed north with the sharpie right on her tail, and that was it. For a few days, I spent a lot of time looking, but saw no sign of her. I didn't completely give up looking for a couple of weeks. If she survived the attack, she was apparently driven a long way off.

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Notes added 7/26/2008
Here are a few more comments about Alex.  I was thinking about her today, nearly four years later.  On the day that I lost her, I was flying her in Oak Forest, a wooded, very large neighborhood just north of downtown Houston.  She pursued some sparrows up to a martin house, and tried aggressively footing inside the entrance holes.  The sparrows stayed well back, as she failed to catch any.  On another outing, about a week earlier she flew from a tree, crossing the street and flying into a bush where a sparrow was hiding.  She looked like a tiny redtail, gliding down with a fixed wing triangular shape, and disappeared into the bush.  A great flight.  It was momentarily quiet, she wasn't screaming, and I was excited thinking that she had scored.  But a few seconds later, she began to scream, and I knew she had missed. 
Her best flight, a week or two earlier than that, was on a bagged sparrow that she pursued from a tall light pole in the park.  The sparrow took off in a flash, heading for trees, and it looked as if the kestrel had no chance.  But she rolled over as it flew under her; she then flew it down and pounded it into the ground.  As she settled in, a dog scared her, and she carried it.  I lost her for a very long hour or so, but she came back, and I took her home.  She had only gained fives grams in weight, so apparently she lost the sparrow. Probably she was robbed by a crow, or just dropped it, which I have seen kestrels do on ocassion.  When I got home, I called Jim Ince and talked excitedly about the chase. 

I need to mention that Alex was the worst screaming bird that I have ever encountered.  Matt Mullenix attributed it to isolation, and I now concur.  She and Apollo, her successor, were both tethered in the mew in the back yard, and though I spent a good part of each evening with the birds, they were left completely alone during the day; both screamed.  Alex was worse. Her screaming was nearly constant, except when she was hunting.  On the fist, or if anyone was around, it was constant.  The minute I left her alone she would be quiet, but when she would hear someone approaching, it would start in again.
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*American Kestrels in Modern Falconry, by Matthew Mullenix

Chuck Redding
Houston, TX
Please write me if you find typos or errors, whether grammatical, or factual, or even just to let me know that you enjoy the site.
Email:  cisco@virtualvideo.cc

After training another kestrel, who caught his first game, and took off the same evening, I decided to fly redtails. I lost the first redtail, called Bravo, in a bizarre incident right after he was trained.  As of this writing (6/21/2010), I am flying a tiercel RT, called Cisco, starting his sixth season in the fall. Trapped in Ft. Worth late in 2005, he's a good rabbit and squirrel hawk, well mannered, and entertaining to fly.  The red-tail may be viewed live, sitting on perch (typically 0600 to 1830 CST) at the two links below. Typically in good Houston weather, check Camera1; in bad weather, the other should be up.  Beginning in July of 2010, there may be two hawks, so both cameras should be active every day.
Camera1
Camera2


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