Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rain Delay: Apprenticeship Update

Every day, for hours, I am outside in my truck with hawk traps, scanning the countryside for a juvenile redtail. As a new falconer, this is the bird for me to start with and I am not allowed to buy, borrow, trade, or raise one from a hatchling. I need to obtain a freshly trapped bird on it's migration south. This is ridiculously hard for me. I don't know if I missed the migration or if it is running late. I do know I have seen harriers and juvenile bald eagles, which are other migrating species all over the place. But the brown-striped-tailed redtail little is eluding me. But not for my trying. That's for damn sure.

This is the last step towards becoming a practicing falconer. I went through the year-long application process. I had the help of a village creating the mews. I gathered supplies, food, gear, scales, and everything else and now I am down to the art of trapping a wild animal so I can bring it home and teach it to be my partner in grocery shopping. the only thing holding me back is the actual acquirement of the bird - which right now seems so unlikely. I feel like my chances are akin to being told that every day six strangers will throw a quarter into an Olympic-sized swimming pool and I can keep the quarter if I manage to glide past it underwater and it lands on the small of my back. It's statistically impossible, but not "actually" impossible. But Brigit knows I have no fear of long odds. I'm also a lot more stubborn than any hawk out there, for that I am certain. Right now there is a downpour outside and I'm not trapping. If there's a break in the weather I'll make a small loop around the area but that's it. I'm kind of relieved to have a day off. Hope is exhausting.

The upside: my raptor knowledge and awareness has shot through the rough. I can tell you the difference between a redtail or a harrier at 200 yards. I see birds everywhere. I am always looking up. I must see several dozen red tails a day now, nearly all haggards (adults) I can't trap. Though I have trapped two now, they were released. It is funny that a year ago holding a hawk in my arms felt like something from a storybook. Now handling wild adult hawks feels as normal as picking up chickens. There isn't fear, nor is there a lack of awe, just comfort. These birds just feel a part of me now.

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