Escaped Falconry Bird – Peregrine Falcon, Again

This morning, just as the sun was peeking over the mountains, we found this Peregrine Falcon along the Antelope Island Causeway.

 

peregrine falcon 0249 ron dudley

 1/1000, f/6.3, ISO 640, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light, not baited, set up or called in

It was feeding on a bird of some kind, possibly prey stolen from another falcon, as we saw two of them as we approached but one flew off.  The falcon was intent on its meal and allowed me to photograph it for 22 minutes.  The lighting was low and difficult, with the light hitting the bright breast of the bird and leaving its darker parts in shade for much of that time.  Photographers will note from my techs that I fiddled with my settings quite a bit – adjusting for the quickly changing light and the removal of my tc in anticipation of take-off.  It was a challenging situation for me.

 

 

peregrine falcon 0206 ron dudley

1/640, f/6.3, ISO 640, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light, not baited, set up or called in

 It kept wanting/trying to eat the feet and legs of the bird but as far as I could tell the falcon never actually swallowed them.

 

 

peregrine falcon 0303 ron dudley

 1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 640, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light, not baited, set up or called in

This falcon is obviously an escaped Falconry bird – notice the leather falconry anklets just above the feet.  Here the falcon turned broadside to the light for just a few moments.

 

 

peregrine falcon 0431 ron dudley

 1/3200, f/5, ISO 640, 500 f/4, natural light, not baited, set up or called in

At this point the peregrine had finished its meal and I’d taken the tc off in anticipation of flight but the bird took its own sweet time in doing so, which I appreciated.  On the other hand, it’s very easy to miss the take-off if you have to wait a long time for it.

 

 

peregrine falcon 0448 ron dudley

 1/2500, f/5, ISO 640, 500 f/4, natural light, not baited, set up or called in

 Since it looked like the falcon would take off at a right angle to me I chose to pre focus and then not try to track it in flight, hoping it would stay the same distance from me (and in focus) for at least a few frames.

 

 

peregrine falcon 0451 ron dudley

 1/2500, f/5, ISO 640, 500 f/4, natural light, not baited, set up or called in

It worked adequately, though not perfectly.  In this image you can see the bulging crop from the meal it had just finished.

I don’t know the correct terminology for them but I believe this shot shows metal rings in the anklets that are used for the attachment of the jesses.  Thankfully, the long jesses had apparently been removed from the bird before it escaped.  If they were still there they would almost certainly be an eventual death trap for the falcon.

 

 

peregrine falcon 0452 ron dudley

 1/2500, f/5, ISO 640, 500 f/4, natural light, not baited, set up or called in

This is the last, relatively sharp image I got as the falcon flew off.

Some of you may remember this post of mine from a month ago – Escaped Falconry Bird – Peregrine Falcon.   Almost certainly, this  falcon is the same bird as in that post.  We reported that bird to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources – both the offices in Salt Lake City and in Ogden.  We were told that they’d “look in to it” but we’ve never heard back from them and never seen anyone out on the causeway attempting to locate or trap the bird, even though we spend a lot of time out there.

I’m now to the point that I hope this bird stays free, as it should have been from the beginning.  I’m becoming very disillusioned regarding the sport of falconry.  This is the second escaped falconry bird I’ve come across.  The first one, an American Kestrel, was still trailing its very long jesses.  And that bird had escaped at least twice from its owner (all this was documented in my first post, link above).

I simply don’t understand why it’s a wise trade-off to sacrifice the freedom of so many species of raptors (many are snatched as fledglings from the nests of birds in the wild) so that they can become glorified pets of falconers.  Makes no sense to me…

Ron

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38 comments to Escaped Falconry Bird – Peregrine Falcon, Again

  • john goodell

    The bottom line is that a lost falconry bird should not illicit negativity. The bird is a native species endemic to the area it was seen. As stated by earlier posting – the anklets looks very worn and the zip-tie band undoubtedly broke off after several months in the elements (in other words its not a captive bred bird originally). Falconry birds are not pets – they are not domestic animals, and yes, now and then they are lost to the falconer but not the world from which they came. Human involvement with nature in such artforms such as falconry only enhances and strengthens our connection to the wild, as opposed to so many other activities that seek to dominate it. Let a bird go free and hunt with it and call it back – happens only because of a positive relationship and it is by no means related to pet keeping. If you want to blog about the threats to raptors please dont pull the falconry community into it. Conservation of North American raptors requires addressing the following impacts: 1) car strikes 2) electrocutions 3) poisoning (lead, Mercury, organophosphates and others) 4) habitat loss and degradation 5) strikes to other things such as turbines etc 5) human disturbance around nest sites.

  • William Dove

    Why is it legitimate to say taking an eyass is increasing the likelihood of the eyass having a better life and the remaining eyasses having a greater chance for survival?

    Realizing that the mortality rate in first year raptors can be as high as 80% and that much of the issue of survival for the nestling is food, by removing a member of the brood the remaining eaglet, hawklets or falconets opportunity for a greater amount of prey is increases by a significant percentage. A percentage that can result in the survival of each remaining member of the brood. Food availability at the nest generally decreases sibling aggression and increases the health, growth rate, feather quality, as well as resistance to parasites and disease. As well as in the care of good falconry practices and management the removed eyass will be afforded the same benefits via quality food, greater security from predation and the negative effects of weather. They also are afforded a longer period of learning in regards to hunting all with again greater protection from many of human created threats for their wild counterpart. In other words the life of a falconry bird is normally much easier and safer than that of its wild sibling.

    Many of the concerns mentioned regarding falconry are not falconry issues but human issues. A benefit that has not been mentioned that is a direct spin-off from falconry is the use of its techniques in the field of raptor rehabilitation. Almost all quality raptor rehabilitation facilities employ falconry techniques and/or falconers to manage the raptors in their care and their educational birds.

    As a somewhat retired raptor rehabilitator of over 3 decades who became a falconer to improve the management of my patience, I am still asked by my government to rehab certain birds. They seem to realize the benefits.

    I suggest the nay sayers ask their state officials why the practice of falconry is legal in their state. Why many of their raptor rehabilitators use falconry techniques and equipment? Why some of the top raptor veterinarians are falconers and falconry techniques are taught at most veterinarian schools not to mention why falconers are often the first people consulted when there is a local raptor issue?

    And in regard to the comment “Doesn’t sound like much effort was put onto locating this bird”, I’m not sure how anyone could honestly know how much effort was made.

  • Charlotte Norton

    Sensational shots. I agree with you. Doesn’t sound like much effort was put onto locating this bird. Hope it remains free! If they aren’t going to enforce the law,they need to change it.
    Charlotte

  • Rob

    Ron,
    Congrats on an amazing site. I found it via a link to your prairie falcon-shoveler sequence. I am a falconer but came to falconry late in life, after nearly 40 years as birder and amateur naturalist. I’ve only ever flown red-tailed hawks, all trapped from the wild. Perhaps your opinion of this practice would be altered by the knowledge that trapping is allowed only of immature (1st-year birds). It is well-documented that such birds have about a 60% mortality rate in the first Winter. So, there’s a greater than average chance that being trapped for falconry actually saves that bird’s life. Personally, I think that the wild take provides for a much more naturalistic practice than does captive breeding. The latter produces many exotic hybrids that do not exist in nature and that are imprinted to humans, rendering them unsuitable for ever being released into the wild. My apprentices and I have released 5 red-tails back into the wild in the past 3 years. One of those birds spent almost 4 years in falconry. Her hunting skills improved each year so that, by the time of release, she was pretty much a guaranteed survivor. I expect that she’s out there as a productive breeder now. Falconry brings me even closer to nature. Seems like a win-win to me.

  • Qassim

    It is me again…

    Back in 1998, I visited your country and your state and stayed at Vernal, hawking on Utes land for Sage Grouse…
    My friend from northern states, had a wild caught Gyrfalcon, and she was fantastic. She took a nice hen sage grouse and it was fantastic to be offered the chance to see such a great scenery…

    Few seasons later, he released her when she reached sexual maturity, and as a gift for having borrowed her from nature, gave her freedom…

    If not the falconers community since the disaster of DDT in the USA and the rest of the world, certainly nobody would still see a Peregrine Falcon today.
    Falconers won over the pesticides chemical industry, Falconers discovered the secret of captive breeding first for conservation and reintroduction purposes as never before Falcons were bred successfully in captivity, Falconers carry educative programs and volunteering at schools and many institutions on the necessity to respect and protect raptors…
    breaking the popular bad reputation and misconcept of crooked beak birds like it was the case since the medieval times.
    Falconry have been a fantastic tool to make the wide public sensitive aware and receptive, by allowing people to get close, to see, to photograph birds of prey during static and flying displays.

    If not the falconry community in North America, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to see a Peregrine Falcon in the wild.
    Almost all those biologists who reintroduced the Peregrine Falcons were passionate falconers.

    I keep enjoying your photos and annoying you with Falconry,

    Thank you anyway,

    An Arab Falconer

    • Qassim, I agree with each point you made about the positive effects falconry has had overall. And your comments regarding falconry don’t annoy me – they’re on point, polite and persuasive.

      Personally, I’ve largely been been persuaded by the arguments of falconers (particularly those of Mark Runnels) on this and related posts and have softened my somewhat negative stance regarding the “sport”. I do however still have some reservations – 1). I’d like to see the sport evolve to the point that all falconry birds were captive bred, so none had to be taken from the wild, and 2.) though they’re relatively small in number, there’s still too many abuses going on out there in the falconry world. Case in point – the escaped American Kestrel I documented previously. http://featheredphotography.com/blog/2012/09/17/escaped-falconry-bird-peregrine-falcon/ That bird had extremely long, dangerous and illegal jesses on and it escaped twice within a short time with those jesses still attached. It’s very likely that bird ended up dangling from a wire or branch.

      At least that’s how I feel right now. But I’m still learning…

  • Spuzzcat

    Ron-

    I was so intrigued by your tremendous photos and that beautiful peregrine that my wife and I left Salt Lake City early this morning and were slowly crossing the Antelope Island causeway at first light this morning. We saw this bird again on the midsection of the causeway on prey on the small strip of beach along the lake at about 8am. What a treat! I am nowhere near the photographer you are and have no pictures to share. Thanks for sharing this with everyone. I would have never known about this or gone to see her without your great pictures. We also had a nice morning going for a short hike on the island and enjoying a beautiful October morning. As to the peregrine, I would venture a guess that she will be thriving in the wild the balance of her days. She looked to be in fabulous conditions.

    Thanks,

    Brad

  • I just returned from a three day camping/photo trip to Nevada during which I had no internet access (my last post was an automatic, timed post). In those three days a number of comments have been made on this post by folks who had never commented here before, so those comments needed my approval/moderation. I will be moderating those comments, and responding to them, this afternoon and evening. I apologize for the delay.

  • Spuzzcat

    I have over 20 years of experience as a falconer and I would say that based on the condition of the ankelts, the coloration of the feet, cere and feathers, as well as the natural state of the molted feathers, this bird may have been free for quite some time. Those ankelts are well worn and will hopefully not be on the bird much longer. In one shot, you can see that the left anklet has a small amount of dry rotting to do and it will come off. If those anklets were prepared well to begin with, that bird could have been loose for up to a year or more. Well prepared anklets can last for two or three years and those have about had it. With any luck, they will come off soon.

    The falcon clearly knows how to hunt and provide for herself, given that she is taking game. I would venture a guess that she will do fine on her own at this point. She clearly has molted at least twice and should have plenty of experience. She certainly has more experience than a recently fledged immature bird and they manage to survive somehow. I know of one falconry bird that was lost in its first few months of falconry in Idaho and was found 1 1/2 years later in Utah surviving well in the wild.

    With no band, trapping the bird would not help because it could not be determined who was licensed to possess it. If it is an education bird, it cannot be determined whose it is. My hope would be that the bird stays free, loses its anklets, and thrives in the wild.

    As far as those of you who hold contempt for falconry and falconers, that is probably a discussion for another day. Needless to say, I respectfully disagree. I have had several birds that I have flown, loved, learned from, and released back to the wild; the bird no worse for the wear and my life enriched by the experience.

    • Thank you for an extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful comment Spuzzcat. You obviously have strong feelings on the subject that are at odds with those of some of the rest of us but you kept your comment respectful as you stated your position. I appreciate that.

      I can’t speak for anyone else with confidence but I very much doubt that any of us here holds falconry or falconers in “contempt”. I certainly do not. However, I do strongly believe that “wild take” of falconry birds should be made illegal.

  • Hub

    Ron..
    They are nice pics of the Peregrine, but you could have unknowingly stressed that bird by disrupting it during its meal during migration time. These falcons need all the energy they can get at this time of year. You had no idea of the condition of that and how such possible disruption during its meal could have had fatal consequences. There is already legislation and new legislation being pushed to protect birds because of shutter-bugs getting too close….If you want a good Peregrine photo, just buy one off the internet taken by a professional so the chance of disturbance to such raptors can be reduced as much as possible.
    Falconers and Shutter-bugs all need to all do their part to help protect these birds.

    • Hub,

      I’ll try to make my reply more respectful than your comment. Won’t be easy…

      “you could have unknowingly stressed that bird by disrupting it during its meal during migration time”

      Many Peregrines in this part of Utah are non-migratory and reside here year round. Yes, there are Peregrines that migrate through but if you had read my post, and the post provided by the imbedded link, you’d know that I photographed this exact bird a month prior to when these photos were taken (and in almost the same place). Not a migrating bird. Besides, I take great care not to unduly disrupt ANY of the birds I photograph, migrating or not – as I’ve made abundantly clear in many of my posts and on my “About Me” page. I take the ethics of bird photography VERY seriously! This falcon (as I said in my post) was along the causeway to the island – a very long and narrow spit of land that is mostly road that is surrounded by water. Cars were going by the whole time and as usual I never got out of my vehicle. When it was finished with its meal it took its sweet time before leaving. This bird was simply NOT stressed!

      “If you want a good Peregrine photo, just buy one off the internet taken by a professional”

      I AM a professional. But you can rest assurred that I will give your advice all the attention it deserves…

  • Quote by Ron: “I’m now to the point that I hope this bird stays free, as it should have been from the beginning. I’m becoming very disillusioned regarding the sport of falconry. This is the second escaped falconry bird I’ve come across. The first one, an American Kestrel, was still trailing its very long jesses. And that bird had escaped at least twice from its owner (all this was documented in my first post, link above).

    I simply don’t understand why it’s a wise trade-off to sacrifice the freedom of so many species of raptors (many are snatched as fledglings from the nests of birds in the wild) so that they can become glorified pets of falconers. Makes no sense to me…”

    While I understand your perspectve from an onlookers point of view, falconers are extremely pro conservation. Falconry birds are no more a pet than a if you were to go and try to tame down a wild wolf and keep it as a lap dog. These are hunting birds, which love to do what they were born to do which is fly, kill and eat. Most raptors flown in falconry are captive bred. The wild taken birds are generally released that following spring to go back into the breeding population. Two thirds of all raptors born every spring die that same fall & winter due to starvation, predatation and from man made threats. The birds taken up to be trained for falconry get a chance of living that wild birds do not get their first year. These birds are flown daily, hunted exactly like a wild bird, and if a bird gets sick it gets proper vet attention. If a bird was taken up for falconry and kept tied down in the backyard or in a cage I (and the entire falconry community) would make sure that person was reported to the DWR. Falconry is not a sport of pet keeping; it is a sport of flying our birds and letting them chase wild game. Again, they are not pets.

    Birds get lost because we fly them. If they choose to come back to us, then great. If they choose not to come back, then all the best to the bird. As you can see from these pictures, this Peregrine is doing great. It also may be breeding in the wild.

    Great photos Ron.

    • Thanks Chris. I’m glad you like the photos.

      I suppose it’s purely a matter of definition as to whether or not falconry birds are pets. They are animals kept for the pleasure of their “owner”, they’re treated with great care and affection and they’re even given pet names. That’s close enough to a “pet” for me. But notice that I didn’t call them just “pets”. I called them “glorified pets”. And with that modifier I think the term fits well. You obviously will disagree. That’s fine, people do…

      I’m afraid I’m skeptical about your claim that “wild birds are generally released that following spring to go back into the breeding population”. “Generally” means “in most cases”, and while I’m aware that releasing birds in the spring is an old tradition, I’m under the impression that it is done far less often than “generally” these days. That said, my impression may be mistaken as I’m certainly no expert on the subject. A quick google search gave me no definitive answer. If you would care to share with me (and my readers) any reliable links that confirm that this is the most common practice among falconers I’m sure we would all appreciate it. Seriously, I’d very much like to know.

  • Hi All,

    I’ve been a falconer for nearly 20 years now. Looking at the 2nd to the last image I noticed the anklets and how they look extremely weathered and old. One is slightly torn near the grommet. I suspect that this bird was either lost last year or the year before. Sometimes in falconry we fly our birds on the brink of losing them. This makes for great flights to watch and a happy bird. Without telemetry birds can be lost even if the bird itself wasn’t intending to be lost. Who knows what the real story is behind this bird, but one thing for certain is that those anklets look pretty weathered and old. If someone could get a picture of the seamless metal band on it’s leg (several shots) we might be able to see who the breeder was.

    This is an Anatum peregrine, and a good looking bird to boot.

    • Thank you for your input and expertise Chris. I’ll be looking to get some images of the band (if it’s still there, or ever was there) but it’s probably not likely that I’ll get close enough to the falcon for the band to be read.

  • jannice

    I sure am glad you got to see the falcon I sent this to another falcon person that is part of the Utah Wildlife and it went to falconry clubs maybe they might know something about this gorgeous falcon, but like its been said (if it wasn’t for the jesses) this one seems to be able to get along fine in the wild and thats how it should be (my opinion). Heres hoping for the best thank you for posting your great pictures they are just awesome

    • Jannice, thanks for getting the info about this bird into the falconry “loop”. Knowing how devoted falconers typically are toward their birds I suspect that the “owner” of this falcon would at least like to know that his/her bird is faring well.

    • Tom

      While I am not a falconer, I hope you all recognize that the peregrine falcons, especially this subspecies, were saved from environmental concerns by falconers, who developed ways to propogate the birds at Cornell University. I think we owe them a great deal of thanks.

      • Yes, we do “owe them a great deal of thanks”, Tom. I acknowledged my appreciation for their conservation efforts in the link provided in this post, quoted below.

        “I’ve always admired the sport of falconry on several levels. Falconers generally have a deep devotion and personal attachment to their birds that I respect and they and their organizations have done a lot for raptor conservation and education.”

        I’ve done the same in my response to Shirley’s comment, below.

      • Jannice

        You are so right there are so many orgenazations that have help to return the Falcons back where they belong I follow Cornell closely also, they are great people there that are helping so many different types of wildlife, thank you

  • Shirley

    All falconry birds in the United States are required by USF&W Service to be banded. I realize it is very difficult to be totally sure, but I don’t see a band on that one. It might possibly be someone’s escaped education bird or a nature center display bird. We try very hard not to let that happen but it occasionally does, much to our chagrin. And, before someone jumps in with both feet here, yes, we do play devil’s advocate to ourselves on the value of keeping birds in captivity even for such a good cause. But, in this day and age, the majority of people never have the opportunity or pleasure of seeing these beautiful creatures in the wild (think “Last Child in the Woods”) and we can only hope our taking these birds in to classrooms and civic organizations and letting them establish a personal contact, will at least get people thinking and acting on protecting the habitat we are so rapidly losing.

    • Shirley, I didn’t see a band on any of my shots of this bird and I took a whole slew of them. But, as you must know, falconry birds sometimes remove their bands – which is exactly what happened with the twice-escaped kestrel referred to in my link on this post.

      I don’t think any of us (as far as I know) have a quarrel with using injured or imprinted birds for educational purposes. I certainly don’t. I’m a retired high school bio/zoology teacher and I often had folks bring in “education birds” to my classes. I can’t overstate the educational value they provided to my students. Quite a few of them have gone on to careers related to natural history and environment and I know that at least some of their inspiration was from having an up close and personal interaction with those impressive birds in the classroom – a first time event for most of them. In fact, I’ve recently reconnected with one of them who is now in Hawaii working with their endangered birds – including nenes.

      I truly hope your “devils advocacy” never gives you any serious doubts about the value to society, and to raptors, that you provide.

      Falconers have also provided many valuable services along these lines and I appreciate those just as much.

    • Matt Finch

      Actually not all birds need to be banded in falconry. Wild caught Peregrine Falcons do need a band however. And for falconry, some have microchips in them. Depending on individual state laws not all falconry birds need to be banded except a few species. I do not know why the band is not on this bird so don’t ask me. Every state has their own laws that must be at the same level or more strict than the USFWS laws.

      Utah’s law that follows in accordance to the USFWS laws is this: per Utah code “R657-20-22,(1), a falconer who has captured or acquired a wild Northern Goshawk, wild Harris Hawk, wild Peregrine Falcon, or wild Gyrfalcon must band the raptor with a permanent nonreusable, numbered USFWS leg band. However, ALL captive bred raptors must have a permanent metal yellow band on.” it continues to section “(6)Exemptions for banding of raptors will be considered on a case by case basis as follows: (a)documented health or injury problems for a raptor that are caused by the band (b) a copy of the exemption paperwork must be kept by the permittee when transporting or flying the raptor (c) if the raptor is a wild goshawk, peregrine, gryfalcon or harris hawk, the band must be replaced by an ISO compliant microchip.(i) Substituting a microchip for a band on a wild goshawk, wild harris hawk, wild peregrine, wild gyrfalcon will not be authorized unless it has been demonstrated that a band causes an injury or a health problem for the raptor. ”

      The anklets will in no way cause any health or survival issues. If it did the USFWS would not let us use anklets. Thank you so much Ron for getting these pictures. I wish this bird could be recaptured to see if there is a microchip or not.

  • Mike

    Come on dude- find prey, get big, fly high, grow wise, live long… and make many more wild falcons!

  • Isabel

    The US Fish and Wildlife has very strict rules for ‘wild take’ of any Raptor for use in falconry. For peregrine falcons, they maximum amount is 5% of the nestlings per state and only from sighted and documented pairs and nest sites. For raptors, as with many wild birds and animals there is a high mortality rate so in many cases, the reduction of one nestling from a clutch of four greatly INCREASES the survival rate of the remaining 3. Now of course as a falconry bird, there is always food, flying and hunting – so that bird is guaranteed a healthy life as well. Now IF a bird gets “lost” , it does know how to survive since it has been well fed, and very conditioned and has been hunting all it’s life!

    On the other hand, many falconers acquire captive bred birds, since wild take is very limited and time consuming.

    • Isabel – Welcome, and thanks for joining in the discussion.

      “the reduction of one nestling from a clutch of four greatly INCREASES the survival rate of the remaining 3″

      And I’m sure that the removal of two of the four nestlings would increase the survival rate of the remaining 2 even further. Remove three of the four and survival chances of the one left in the nest increases even more. Remove all the chicks from the nest and the mortality rate drops to zero. But in the end, on average, it seems to me that removing any nestlings at all must reduce the average total number of chicks that fledge to survive in the wild. After all, there must be a reason why natural selection arrived at an average clutch size of four for peregrines.

      “Now of course as a falconry bird, there is always food, flying and hunting – so that bird is guaranteed a healthy life as well”

      I dispute that. There is no “guarantee” that a bird will have a “healthy life” just because it is a falconry bird. Just one example of that is birds that “escape” with jesses attached (see my original post on this subject regarding the escaped kestrel). Jesses will likely eventually entangle the bird in something and be a death sentence. And even if the jesses have been removed, the anklets haven’t and even they have the potential for causing problems for the bird. I also question equating a “healthy life” with being well fed only – there’s more to health than simply having a full stomach. Caged zoo predators (lions, tigers, bears etc) that pace in their enclosures in obvious distress would be a case in point. They’re well fed, but certainly not psychologically “healthy” in captivity.

      But much of the above is irrelevant to the major point that many of us passionately believe in – that raptors deserve to be free, rather than spend their lives in captivity as the glorified pets of falconers.

      My comments here (and in my two posts on the subject) are not meant to be “falconer bashing”. I’ve always been highly impressed by the dedication and devotion most falconers have for their birds and I’ve long appreciated the educational efforts of falconers to increase appreciation for raptors. But in the end it’s simply my belief that in this day and age falconry has become unnecessary, outdated and even inhumane when you consider forced captivity of such freedom-loving birds.

  • Tana Hunter

    I agree. The only reason to keep a raptor is if it can not be returned to the wild due to injury or inability to care for itself. And then, it should only be kept by expert, licensed, rehabs or education organizations. The same is true for all wild birds. If you want a bird as a pet, get a chicken! But thanks again for the informative, beautiful shots!

  • Ditto, ditto, ditto… And beautifully said and portrayed in your images. These creatures belong in their natural environment — like ALL wildlife — and not as a prized PET. We’re such a self-centered species. It hurts to see the bands from its former life, but at least the jesses aren’t impeding its new freedom. Thanks again for such a beautiful and educational post.

    • Christina – hopefully, the anklets will eventually begin to break down enough so the falcon can pick them off before they cause any significent problem. For now, it seems to be doing just fine.

    • matt

      Christina, these are not pets and they never were considered pets. They fly free and hunt just as they do in the wild. That is the way it has been for over four thousand years. I understand your point of view and that I respect. I will defend falconry and its true purpose with my life. But I will not debate with anyone who is close minded. Not that I am saying you are close minded, cuz I don’t know you. I am not in any way being a jerk or trying to make anyone angry or start a heated debate. I am merely trying to help people understand.

  • Beautiful bird, and I join you in hoping it stays free. It seems to have developed/maintained survival skills, which is all to the good. Increasingly, I am dubious at best at the capture of any wild animal for sport/education/whatever. It is rarely to the animal’s benefit.

    I really liked the photo just after takeoff, when all the falcon’s leggings were on display. Mega thanks.

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