Wednesday, June 25, 2008

first not-kill

Well, she's gotten the live sparrow that my friend K was bugging me to give her (actually I have two hawking buddies who start with a K, so this is K0). We'd all gone out crow hawking and begging for a starling slip, and ended up with just one crow in the bag. When we got back s/he seemed hungry and anxious, so I checked the trap and it had 1 new sparrow in it. Perfect. I tied up the sparrow and put it on the kitchen table, brought the sharpie in.

The sparrow had vanished.

Okay, so I was never a boy scout. I know I tied it with a proper square knot, but in the wrong place. I took the opportunity to weigh her (113 gm), searched for the sparrow, but not too hard. It would keep, and there were 2 more sparrows in the trap.

I pulled one of them, tied it up properly, and put it on the kitchen floor out of the sharpy's line of sight. Picked up the little hawk and walked over to the sparrow. It took her a few moments of staring at the crazily fluttering thing, but she went right off the glove and snagged it. It was by no means beautiful. She simply started plucking it. However horrible, this is normal in the hawk world.

Once in a while it would struggle and her footwork sucked. It was half plucked and bitten several times, and I felt so sorry for it I took a sparrow defrosted earlier today, cut off the top half, and slipped her onto that. It was pretty much in a coma when I broke its neck. She was quite happy with the half-a-sparrow and ate most of the easier meat, leaving the head, spine, and the bony part of the wings. Picked her up onto the lure and a sparrow leg, which she wasn't that interested in.

I was in a quandry here. McDermott says to a) never pick up an imprint on a kill, since it encourages carrying, and b) never let the bird eat a kill on your glove. I have exactly the opposite pattern with the Harris, and I knew I had to eventually get the bird on the glove, so I kind of did a little of both and held her, the lure, and the half-a-sparrow, and stayed right in the same spot. Hopefully that won't screw her up.

I grabbed the flashlight and walked around the living room and eventually found sparrow #1. He goes back in the trap. Unfortunately, the sparrow supply is enough of a trickle that no one gets freedom whether or not they earn it.

After the meal she was 117 grams. Five grams constitues a decent meal for a sharpy.

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