Saturday, February 16, 2013

John Blakeman Gets a Once in a Lifetime Valentine-Zephyr Comes Back!!! And Great Horned Owls in the Window Box

 Photo courtesy of John Blakeman
Last fall after deciding that his falconry days were over and his current falconry bird, Zephyr was up to making her own way in the world, John Blakeman our Red-tailed Hawk Answer Man for lo these many years, released Zephyr back to the wild.
And quess what just happened! 

I just looked out into a black oak in my backyard, 100 ft from my house, and Zephyr, my falconry Red-tail that I released here last September was sitting regally in the tree. I pulled out my digital telephoto, and got the photo.
Sure would be fun if she finds a tiercel, who would build her a nest nearby. The days are discernibly     lengthening and sex hormones are starting to flow.
I'll be watching all of this closely.
--John Blakeman

The email below is John's response to his daughter who emailed that she believed his ID that Zephyr was the above hawk in the first photograph....and then...

 Photo courtesy of John Blakeman    Zephyr at the window.

You, nor anyone else would (or should) believe this. Zephyr flew up and tried to land on the window sill behind the dining room table. She saw me standing at the window, and wanted to fly over and see me.
So, I went to the basement and pulled out a frozen sparrow and quickly (5min) thawed it in some hot water. I put on a falconry glove and got my falconry whistle and stepped out of the basement door to see if the hawk was still around. She was, sitting on a cross arm of the clothes line. I lifted my glove, with the dead sparrow, blew the whistle, and the hawk flew instantly, 100 ft straight to my fist; just as she might have done a full year ago when still in captivity.
She landed and started to eat the sparrow, exactly as she would have done when she was my falconry hawk. She felt entirely comfortable on my fist --- but she was not tethered. She had no jesses or leash. She was completely free, but elected to spend about 5 minutes pulling apart the sparrow and eating it on my glove. She even allowed me to feel the ends of her talons. I wanted to see if they had gotten sharper. They were needle-sharp.
She dropped a few pieces of sparrow flesh on the ground while eating, and then dropped down to retrieve the after eating the main course. She then elected to fly right back up onto my fist, to finish her short repast.
Fortunately ---- no one would otherwise believe me ---- I was able to snap digital photos of her eating on my fist.
Then, when finished, she was still hungry. I tried to toss her off, but without the sling action of the missing jesses, I couldn't fling her. She just gently flew a few feet and landed on the ground. I turned around and started walking under the deck to the back basement door. She flew ahead of me and landed on the hose reel next to the door. I think I could have enticed her inside, just as she had done hundreds of times before.
I'll have a nice piece of turkey neck thawed for tomorrow afternoon, when  I will attempt to replicate this remarkable episode.
I got photos of her main big front talon, which was missing a big gap. She's caught a squirrel, which bit out a dry chunk of her talon --- no harm to her.
Stunning. I released Zephyr about Sep 12 last fall, and have seen her flying or perched in the area no more than 6 to 10 times, never once as close to the house.
This will be fun.

 Photo courtesy of John Blakeman
John Blakeman and the visiting Zephyr on his fist of her own accord, having a snack.

John, I cannot wait to see how this turns out.  And indeed, this is going to be grand fun!  

You don't suppose that as it is mating season that Zephyr hasn't returned to see if you're available?

 It was Valentine's Day after all!

As many of you know my internet connection has been intermittent therefore I've been missing many of your emails....keep your fingers crossed about my connection and I'll keep catching up!
 And just in from Robin of Illinois, the Great Horned Owl Window Box Nest!


Karen Anne said...

Could Zephyr be hungry at the end of winter?

Sally said...

I have to say I was a little concerned that Zephyr was still that habituated? Isn't that dangerous to her in the wild? Is she only this "friendly" around JB, or would she perhaps go to other people, or at least not be afraid of them? How will she know to avoid humans int he wild?

Donegal Browne said...

Hi Karen Anne,

Zephyr certainly wasn't adverse to a snack at any rate. This time of the year can be a bit hungry for Red-tails particularly if there is snow on the ground but I can't say that was the case for Zephyr. She certainly didn't looked starved at any rate.

Donegal Browne said...

Hi Sally,

I sent your comment off to John Blakeman for his take and find mine on the main page of the next post.