2.5.14

And Away He Goes










You may remember from a year ago when we had a house guest of sorts.  Lira, a red tailed hawk came to stay with us as my oldest son considered becoming a falconer.  It was clear from the beginning that hawks were going to be a part of our lives.

And so began the process.

First, he had to study and take a licensing exam.  This was the longest part of the process.  For about six months he spent most of his days reading text books and study guides.  The amount of information he had to learn in Biology, Ecology, and Zoology, as well as medical care for the bird was immense.  He had to learn not just about red tail hawks, but all birds of prey.

Then he had to build a mew (shelter), which was inspected and approved by the DNR.

Finally, in October, he was able to trap a juvenile.  A young male, who he named Aleister.  All winter, Jake and his hawk trained and hunted together.  What he really seemed to love the most was presenting educational classes, with his mentor, at the nature center.

As spring approached, Jake had to make a difficult decision; to keep the hawk for another year or to let it go and wait until next fall to trap another one.  He ultimately decided to let Aleister go.

For several weeks, Jake has been preparing the hawk for it's release.  Last weekend, we took Aleister to the state park, where Jake let him go into the wild.

I am a proud mama watching my own little juvenile turn into such an amazing creature and I can't wait to see what next season holds in store.



8 comments:

  1. Amazing photographs to go with amazing memories. I could feel the pride you have in your son.

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  2. I really have to idea what being a falconer means - I thought it was just something they did in Medieval times! So you trap young wild birds and keep them for a while? Great photos!

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    1. Yes. The birds are born in the spring and falconer's trap in the fall, so around 4-6 months old. Falconer's generally keep the hawk for many years, but since Jake is an apprentice, he wanted to gain the added experience of having both a male and female hawk.

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  3. Such a fascinating journey! I showed the pictures to my 10 year old who aspires to be an ornithologist. He loved hearing about the work your son put in to achieve his goals. It's always nice to find fellow homeschoolers following their dreams and inspiring the younger ones.

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    1. That's wonderful. I love how falconry has encompassed all of his academics into a real life project. We are so lucky to have the U of M Raptor Center close by, as well. Jake has been to visit and tour several times. He's also looking at doing a banding project in Cape May next fall.

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  4. This is quite an incredible feat--congratulations to your son. Are the hawks affected at all by the yearlong contact with people--do they become less fearful of humans & human life once released? Beautiful photographs.

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    1. Thanks, Ruby. The hawk/falconer relationship is based solely on food. As soon as the food bond is broken, the bird returns to it's natural state. There is never any kind of emotional attachment (for the hawk, that is).

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  5. Oh this post was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Jake, I am so impressed by the maturity in your commitment to Aleister and the ultimate decision to set him free. Training an animal is not for the faint of heart and even if the bird did not form an emotional attachment we, as humans, are hard pressed not to!!!!

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