View Full Version : Leaving the Kill from Danger

07-10-2015, 02:33 PM
O.K., this is a subject that I hope will provide some useful ideas through some sort of training, to have your trained bird to leave a kill, when an approaching winged predator, ie redtail hawk, is coming in for the kill. Cooper's hawks, small gos, and falcons, when on the ground attract larger predators, even golden eagles, that will eat your trained bird. Of course in the wild, the haggards have learned to abandon the kill, in order to save their life.
Most of the falconers that I have talked to, have no training for their birds on this subject.
With the price of these birds going up, I need to try anything that might help or get some good ideas. A prior thread on this subject had very few people participating, either to lack of interst or no ideas of a training technique.


07-10-2015, 03:25 PM
Two things that I can think of bring about this scenario. 1.) Development of the individual raptor, i.e. imprint or parent reared, will effect their level of wariness. Imprints usually are aggressive toward other raptors and will rout them when they enter its airspace or leave their kill to rout them or carry their kill on approach by intruder and then offer it as a distraction while getting the upper hand and beating the interloper into submission. Parent reared birds for some reason do not seem to acquire this natural tendency and I assume because their development in the chamber somehow precludes the acquisition.
2.) Weight. Parent reared birds tend to have to be flown a little more on the hungry side than an imprint of the same make and model. As such, whereas an imprint might feel like this is its meal, the parent reared bird might feel like this is its life necessity. The parent reared bird therefore may be less likely to want to give it up, or be so distracted eating that it just doesn't take the oncoming threat with enough seriousness. Passage birds probably would also feel this way due to their hunger at flight time, but they have already gained some experience in the wild to understand that such an altercation may be lethal.
Hacking and tame hacking (with another bird at least) may help the parent reared birds but not many falconers can acquire more than one bird at the same time to be able to offer that. Some breeders offer parent reared birds that are also hacked, but I have also heard of those being killed more often than I would think would be satisfactory. But, even so, I think having a sibling or two or ten can really help for the young bird to learn to keep an eye out and always prepare to be blind sided...even if its all fun and games. Play prepares them for life.
When I tame hack my imprints, if I can do two I will, but if not, I help to convince them of threats if I can see them before they are getting lined up on my bird by mimicking the warning call of the species I am flying. Any sort of 'roc roc roc' or 'cac cac cac' call in rapid succession will at least alert them and they will suddenly start craning their neck to discover what has put me on alert. I suppose these days you could use your cell phone to broadcast a call in a pinch.

07-10-2015, 04:49 PM
In my experience, training one's dog to stay with the falcon has proven to be a worth while tactic to protect a falconry bird on it's kill. I had a female gyr x peregrine hybrid that became more aggressive to wild raptors after a RT harassed her on a kill. She learned a riskier response instead of predator avoidance. So who knows what behavior a falconry bird may perform.

-- Scott

07-10-2015, 05:47 PM
My two cents.
Imprints and chamber birds are blank slates, and have no understanding of dangers. ( I know this is a generalization and there are exceptions )
Gender has a lot to do with how brazen the birds will be. My misprint peregrine falcon has no fear. My chamber hybrid tiercel respects eagles but not caracaras.
I agree with Scott dogs are the best for birds safety, the main problem is the dogs safety. If they run across dirt roads to the bird, Murphy's Law a car could come buy. I have seen RT watch me and my bird get out of the car and leave as soon as my dog jumps out.
I also agree with Pete, weight is a huge issue. I fly my birds on the fat side, the thought is to give them a choice. They will pass when the angle is bad and I find there is less tunnel vision during pursuit. They are more likely to brake off on tail chases avoid obsticles, possible problem is they refuse bigger tougher game. My hybrid at 760-810 will take anything gadwall or smaller no questions. However, mallards, pintails, sage hens he needs to be 725-755.
Interesting anecdote with my cast. The male hybr8d was pulled from the chamber at 28 days the female prairie from the eirie at 28 days. She pancaked when vultures or crow flew over the hybrid ignored them.

07-10-2015, 06:51 PM
Thanks for your experiences and input, Pete J, Scott, and Jeremy. I think my thoughts or ideas to be created were tending toward some type of training in my backyard or infield, and then repeat the process. It would need to start with fear generated in the mind of a falcon, then avoidance and leaving the prey. I like the idea of having a dog along to accompany the falcon adjacent to the kill, and this situation would not have made a difference on a few falcons of mine that were killed, ( a half mile out from my position)
One situation took me 20 minutes to arrive in a gated community of million dollar houses, where my g/p made a long chase and kill on a ferrel pigeon. I was within 60 feet of retrieving my bird, when a female immature redtail launched from under one of the rose bushes and landed on the patio roof,....monents later my bird was found dead on the ground. Another time this same bird was attacked by a female great horned owl in the middle of the day. This falcon had two near death experiences, and didn't survive the third event (the ferral pigeon), which demonstrated his lack of acceptance of danger, even on a repeat situation.

One newly trained Gyr/prairie was flown in an area of redtails, which are everywhere in my locations, and a half mile out, she was slammed to the ground by the resident rt, with the falcon crying out in pain,...a minute later she was released. There is also a haggard anatum female peregrine that hunts ducks daily in this same area. So her approach is to pursue the flock of ducks and choose the smalled on to capture, then in order to survive the rt attack, she always flies back to the power pole and eats the duck about 150 feet up. If she can't carry the duck back, then she releases, and won't eat on the ground.
That's how she survives.

So that's why I was attempting to create some type of training technique for my new bird.


07-10-2015, 07:13 PM
I've had two potentially life threatening encounters for my hawks while hawking, both times involving wild eagles. A third time, just recently, where my hawk was killed.

Once while hawking cottontails in Wyoming with a passage Ferruginous hawk, my hawk caught a rabbit a considerable distance from me. I flew it from a soar and many of the kills were quite a ways off, but the flights were spectacular. A pair of eagles zeroed in on my hawk on the ground with the rabbit. I could see the eagles flying in the direction of my hawk. The Ferruginous left the rabbit and split. One of the eagles actually chased my hawk for what seemed like quite a while. I was seriously concerned. A couple of times it looked as though the eagle was going to fly my hawk down. Eventually, the eagle broke off and I caught up with the hawk, but I needed the lure to get her back. She had eaten quite a bit of the rabbit before she was disturbed. It was an hour before dark before I caught up with her. Anyone who has flown a Ferruginous is well aware of how fast they can scarf down a rabbit in no time flat. Perhaps this is because they live in eagle country and they have to eat and run quite often.

The other time was while I was hawking jacks with a passage goshawk in Idaho with my friend Daryl Peterson. A jack had gotten up quite a ways out in front of us. My gos bolted off the fist and headed straight for the jack. We saw it do a wing over a few hundred yards out. Within a few seconds, we saw an eagle launch off a hill on our right, a half mile away and heading straight to where we saw the gos go down. We had no idea the eagle was there. I started yelling and screaming as I'm running toward the gos. The eagle simply ignored me and was pumping hard toward the gos. Daryl and I saw the eagle do a wing over in the area we thought the gos was. I stopped and just started to walk. I remember turning to Daryl and and saying to him that I might as well try and retrieve my transmitter. When we walked up to the area, we couldn't find the gos or the eagle. And we never saw the eagle leave. The sage was fairly high and we figured the eagle could have left through the back door. But both birds had vanished.

So, I walked back to the truck to get my receiver. I get the receiver and I get a signal about a quarter of a mile in a direct line to the left of where we had last seen the gos go down. And the eagle also. The sage is high and I'm weaving in and out honing in on the transmitter's signal. I walk over to a small clearing and see my gos standing on a stone dead jack with the skin on the back of the jack's head peeled back. I walked over, jumped the gos to the fist and fed her. I walk out with the gos, the dead jack and no idea what had just happened the last hour. Perhaps the gos had given the first jack to the eagle. I flew the gos the rest of the season and released her. Here's a picture of me and the gos walking back to the truck on that eventful day.

My conclusion is both of these birds being passage birds were rather street smart. I believe it saved their lives. My experience has been that eagles just seem to show up out of nowhere. However, I have several friends who have lost birds, including passage gyrs, to eagles and one to a coyote while hawking sage grouse.

On a final note, I had a small passage male Red-tail killed this past season by a horned owl. The second time I was hawking with him.

I'm going to start flying passage prairies now that I live in Kansas.


Silver Sage
07-11-2015, 08:40 AM
How about leaving due to ground predators? Many of us strive to get birds (passage, chamber, imprint doesn't matter) to accept dogs but what about when it's a coyote? I know of 2 falcons killed by coyotes. I have had a couple of birds killed, one a passage prairie was killed by a GHO at 0800 in the morning after killing a partridge in heavy sage. I doubt the falcon ever knew the owl was coming until it was to late. I never saw it until I flushed it while looking for my falcon.

07-11-2015, 06:10 PM
There was one suggestion, and that was a Gempler Supply pyrotechnic pistol, using either a sirean screamer cartridge or a bang noise, mostly used for minor bird control, which could be used if within range of the action of a predator launching for your bird.

The other factor of a killed raptor would happen when there is no kill, and the redtail or golden still comes in on your falcon, even if sitting quietly on a rock for example.
So, are the leather anklets and maybe the leg transmitter with antennae appearing like a tail on a mouse, the attractant?


07-11-2015, 07:59 PM
I always explain that falconry is fishing in the sky. We have the big fish in respect to quary, however there are always bigger fish out there.
Sometimes your number will be up.

I was weathering a falcon in my back yard. There were 8 dogs running around and I was sitting drinking a cup of coffee 8' from the falcon. A passage RT dropped out the sky onto the block the falcon was on. Nobody was hurt but it proved to me how quickly things can go wrong.
I consider starving hawks to be the biggest danger to our birds because they are not predictable.

07-12-2015, 12:45 PM
I had two almost similar situations where the female juvenile rt was thinking about eating my peregrine from the lawn perch in the back yard. This is in the middle of town, in a standard housing track with nothing but houses and no open fields nearby. The rt was sitting on the edge of the patio roof and looking down at the lawn perch with the peregrine. When I heard the peregrine give the vocal warning call, I left the house and entered the backyard, I looked upward, and there was rt about five feet from my head.

Returning to the original subject of this thread, I had previously posted on the LongWing section, page two, a title also called leaving the kill. Could someone comment positive or negative on the suggested training technique mentioned, and the reasons why.
I have successfully established a training technique to prevent a peregrine from flying through the strands of barb wire fence, and now it's time to created something for falcons to leave the kill. And it would take multiple and maybe continuing reinforcement training to accomplish this, because as I mentioned, my g/p had two near death experiences from larger predators, (he didn't learn his lesson), then the third time it was fatel and he was killed. The best falcon I had ever flown. These birds are expensive, and not all are top quality confident high flying falcons, so when a great one comes along, I don't want to bury the bird in the field after only two or three years of flying.


07-12-2015, 05:44 PM
like a few things like the dog and the definition of fishing in the sky that I've never thought of and which is great .
the dog is perfect forshorwings but a bit less efficint for long wings who can kill at distances even too far for them.

in belgium
eagles are even less abundant than u.f.o, we do have to deal with common buzzards amuch less powerfull version of red tailed around swainsons, I'll will say.
they are nevertheless agressive and have killed more than one falcon particularly in Britain.
I have had a few encounters with them happily with no casualties.

my suggestion is to start at the beginning of the season with the hawk in over condition

the idea is to reduce agressivity as much as possible to limit the defence attitude to expect in a hawk in yarak.
as we all know they see much better than we do , much sooner and they all have the instinct to look around for any thread.
so when training with pigeons for example, it isn't bad to fly in places where red tailed can force your hawk to give way , laterin the season, they will do it even better when spotting eagles while they seat on a duck or a sharp tailed.

weight control is for me at the beginning the best safeguard. flying at the upper limit of their flying weight
I remember my brookei falcon giving way to a migrant scandinavian falcon herself forced to give way to a common buzzard which in turn was seriously mobbed by a irrate peregrine that I identify as my own brookei.
at the end the superpredator( myself) put things straight, the buzzard went off and my falcon took back her prey with me at her side.

weight can become as it has to be once learning to give way has been learned.

07-31-2015, 09:25 AM
my best mentor( a calidus x british peregrine tiercel)
is teaching me much among many things the subject of this thread being one of them.
he is molting at the moment and is incredibly tame , eating on my glove( he is not an imprint ,and is free in a large pen)
but when eating on my glove, full weight he is always looking left , right all the time almost psychotic in a way .
he hates to be seen by other falcons when eating. he shows me how sensitive and private eating is.

we tend to force the falcon to give up that behavior, we find it as part of good manning.
I know think it the other way round,
feed the falcon always in the most discreet way, not with the other falcons in sight act with my body as a shelter , the purpose is keeping the instinct of safe distance intact so any threat getting into that perimeter is taking into account and either it can fly away with prey or give up. when they are all eating on a lawn some jumping at others food , they just decrease that attitude they cover or stand their ground( obviously as they are tied to a block and that works!the other hawks never reach them intimidation works!standing our ground is effective. they will adopt the same attitude even more while on game with disastrous consequences.
that's just a first thoughts on the subject maybe I'm wrong maybe not but sensitiveness while eating is certainly factual.

my falcon 3 years old pretty numb compared with the tiercel is a very wild and unfriendly falcon nevertheless eating is also sensible she loath eating on my fist and will act with agression and scare actually "robbing" the food from my glove . here again same behavior but this time I have to find a system where she will feel secure with me at some distance and I have to "create these conditions for her . none of those falcons have met any raptor while on prey( buzzards ,kites )I'm sure that the tiercel will give up instantly the falcon I guess so a well but this is just guessing.

a falcon seeing you as a save place to eat even looking for it is certainly a plus .
I expect my falcons to trust themselves = (not scare of everything) , me , my dogs .the rest is unfriendly if I am not there.