Wednesday, February 22, 2006

my bird's dead

S, who I gave to another falconer about five weeks ago, has died. The falconer, V, had given him a good workout regime to restore his tone, and S was, in his words, flying like a goshawk. (He was always faster than most tiercel HHs.) V went hawking on the weekend with his FHH and S, going after bunnies. The eagle came in and was pumping hard after my bird. S was booking – he'd always been wary of large eagle-shaped things – but apparently wasn't fast enough to evade, or calculating enough to locate a hiding place. V lost sight of them beyond a rock outcrop, and was unable to pick up his signal with the receiver. The next day he found S's remains.

He was my first hawk as a general falconer, and I have to say he was a great falconry bird. Not a perfect hunting machine, but he gave me hundreds of jackrabbits and cottontail, about twelve ducks, a few coots, and five or six pheasant in the nine years I had him. He had a mellow personality, was incredibly well manned, would sit anyone's glove, hooded decently, and was streetwise. Though wary of dogs, he was neither hateful nor terrified of them. In the Harris hawk way, he was a genuine ha-ha-Harris, happily eating ice cream, cucumbers and bagels, and once nicking a french-fry out of my mouth. He was a show-off in the best kind of way: when other falconers were around, he went on his best behavior and never failed to catch something, making me look really good.

I'm glad he died while hunting: being a hawk. I hope he's terrorizing the bunnies in hawk heaven. I'll miss him,
my birdmy Squeaky Muad'dib, 1996-2006.

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