Sunday, April 29, 2007

progress (ha!)

The carhawking's been rather sporadic, but he jumps out the passenger window pretty readily now. The problem is that it *still* takes him a while to choose to go. The car is at a dead stop and the crow wondering why this strange bird is staring at him.

We spent the last few hours of today exploring industrial parks in the East Bay. Crows like lawns and tall trees, and a fair number of parks have at least the lawns. We had some good slips, but no connects. I'm starting to get a bit more coordinated with the driving part. I put the window down first and try to keep him inside the car as long as I can.

We ended up without any catches at the McDonald's field, named for the obvious McDonald's at the opposite corner. This is primarily a jack field with occasional pheasants, so I grabbed the T-perch and we made a quick run through. We didn't see anything except the feathery tail of a skunk (rapid backing away). Heading back to the car, P makes a few half-heated passes at a pair of jacks, but they flush upwind and the edge is off his appetite.

Finally, it's obvious our vector is for the car, so he takes off and flies to it. I catch up a minute later, but P is not on the car. A few more steps and I hear him jingle on the ground, and I realize he's on something. "That had better not be a dead jackrabbit," I say. It's something greyish and fuzzy, and I sigh.

Then I get a better look. That thing is moving, and it's a weird greyish yellow I've never seen on a jack.

It's a gosling. We get a trillion Canadian geese out here and they're breeding. In fact, carhawking last week, P hit the window wanting to go after a trio of goslings. Well, I guess he has one now.

There's a second one, too, flipping in and out of this mess of hawk and grabbed goose. I grab that one and shove it out of P's line of sight. The other one's a goner, so I let him feed up on it.

Number Two I'm not sure what to do with. They weren't in a nest, and I had just spotted a couple big clumps of downy feathers ten seconds before noticing P wasn't on the car. This guy is wobbling a bit drunkenly, like he's going into bird shock. Bird shock is very confusing to us mammals, because it looks similar to mammal shock but birds can sometimes recover from it easily and quickly. Birds can sometimes look mostly dead, only to spring to life later. And sometimes they die.

I make the executive decision based on not seeing any parents (I would have noticed them coming in), no nest nearby, and the recent loss of its only sibling which might keep it warm enough to stay alive a few hours longer. The gosling gets executed. I'm sorry to have to do it, but I think leaving it would have been just postponing the inevitable.

Hawks don't consult the law book before choosing what to catch.

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