Saturday, December 26, 2009

Frounce is an age old problem

Frounce, or Trichomoniasis, is a disease that is often transmitted to falcons through eating pigeon. It is defined on the Modern Apprentice website this way:

Frounce is a highly contagious yeast infection of the digestive tract. Frounce is caused by a protozoan called Trichomonas which is frequently present in the crops of pigeons. For this reason, pigeon heads and crops are generally not fed to raptors. The typical signs of frounce are white spots in the mouth or crop, often described as "cheesy" or "white plaques."

Picture from here

Frounce is very often deadly to falcons if it is not treated quickly. Transmission happens through bedding or beak to beak contact in dove species and falcons are infected when they eat pigeons. DNR tells it this way:

Transmission of T. gallinae occurs by discharge of bodily fluids in one of four ways. Adult doves and pigeons infect their offspring during feeding, infect other adult birds through contaminated food, water, and bedding and via courtship behavior. Raptors are infected through consumption of infected doves or pigeons.

This is a disease primarily of doves and pigeons and is transmitted from the adult to their offspring by the regurgitational method of feeding used by these birds.

But this disease is not only deadly to raptors today (I'm on a binge here). It has been theorized that Frounce has been around much longer than previously thought. Scientists believe that many parasites develop along with their hosts, so today's bird parasites, were yesterdays dinosaur parasites. An article for National Geographic News states:

After surviving countless battles, a giant T. rex was ultimately taken down by a microscopic parasite akin to one carried by modern pigeons, scientists say. The finding is a new interpretation of multiple holes in the jawbone of "Sue," the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil yet found, which is on display at the Field Museum in Chicago.

And goes on to say....

In a new study, researchers instead propose that the holes are lesions made by an ancient version of trichomonosis, a single-celled parasite that infects the throats and beaks of modern birds.

So if you worry about your falcons - especially if they have ever (I mean ever) fed on doves or pigeons - treat them for this ancient disease that has preyed on them for millions of years.

You think your bird is bad?

Do you? Maybe you have one of those giant female red tails that grabs jacks like candy. Possibly you are one of those eagle hawkers, hunting fox, or wolf, or even deer. But put into a historical perspective, all of these birds are quite tame.

Go back a few (million) years and birds ruled the earth. In the time of their dominance, the Miocene era, nothing could strike fear into the heart as well as a terror bird. Wikipedia describes them as:
a family of large carnivorous flightless birds that were the dominant predators in South America

And National Geographic has had a number of articles out about them. Yes they were flightless, and looked a bit like an ostrich on steroids, but I wouldn't want to meet on in a dark alley.

The real-life fossils belong to a new species of phorusrhacid, giant predators also known as terror birds that once dominated South America.

Terror birds were the biggest birds the world has ever seen, and the new species is by far the largest terror bird yet, says paleontologist Luis Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, California.

"Some of these birds had skulls that were two and a half feet [almost a meter] in length. [They] were colossal animals," he said.

The new, currently unnamed species stood about ten feet (three meters) tall and had a head as big as that of a horse.

The largest terror birds could likely swallow dog-size prey in a single gulp, experts say.

Early on scientist thought that these birds and humans may have lived at the same time. But fossil records indicate otherwise. It is believed that these birds may have been the ancestors of today's falcons, cranes, and parrots via a small bird called the Seriema.

But older birds were even badder.

The old adage says that size is not everything. If you trace the fossil record back past the Miocene, past the Cenozoic, all the way to the Cretacious, you can find a bird with real bite.

These birds, who were alive during the time of the dinosaurs, were flighted and feathered. They most likely preyed on smaller birds and animals, but what made them so unusual were the particular grooves in their teeth.

"When we were looking at Sinornithosaurus, we realized that its teeth were unusual," Larry Martin, a professor and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Institute at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and paper co-author, said in a prepared statement. "Then we began to look at the whole structure of the teeth and jaw, and at that point, we realized it was similar to modern-day snakes." Like many rear-fanged snakes, these dinosaurs might have used grooved teeth—rather than hollow ones—to deliver venom into their victims' wounds.

Though this bird was smaller than the terror birds that would come later, it would have been just as deadly on its prey. Scientific American goes on to say:

This diabolical dromaeosaur was closely related to the gliding Microraptor gui, and the paper authors highlight its avian qualities: "This thing is a venomous bird for all intents and purposes," Martin said. The Sinornithosaurus was about the size of a turkey but had a taste for meat and perhaps even a stealthy hunting strategy.

So there, just to put things in perspective; You may have the baddest bird on the block, but compared to birds of old, ours of today are humbled.

Does your bird stand ten feet tall? - no.

Can your bird inject venom into its prey? - no.

But on the bright side -

your bird isn't extinct.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I wish the best to you and those close to you.

Remember what is important.

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bird feeders

One of the things I like about this time of year is seeing the feeding that goes on in the backyard feeder. Often we see all different kinds of birds, with finches being the most common. Woodpeckers and Jays come in second (it's a tie).

I have to laugh at the squirrels that show up at my parents' feeder. They are fat and slow, but they understand how to infiltrate a feeder.

A big red tail showed up. He is a semi - regular to the feeder. I hear stories all the time about how hawks are being fed at people's bird feeders. This red tail is no exception.

Check out the feeder in this clip.

Gordon gets a haircut and a walk

Gordon was getting awful fuzzy - so we shaved him short and he looks great! and then we were able to spend some of our break time out walking.

Without the birds we got some time to investigate holes and rabbit tracks. We sniffed around squirrel trees and stomped through the brush. He ran and ran and ran with the big dogs. He loved it.

He stayed close, but was curious about
everything. I have been slack getting Gordon together with the birds this season - partially because I know Tess has a history of hitting dogs.

I really need to take some time getting them acquainted. but for the next few days - with the birds fat and snow on the ground, I'm going to spend more time in the woods with my dog and my kids. Both groups need more time outside investigating.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jack hunting with a new Harris

Luscian over at his blog has caught his first big jack. The video is priceless. Take a minute and go over there and check it out.

My own hunting has been suspended for a bit. I completely fed up the birds on a whole chicken each. It took them almost three days to eat it and now they are fat and happy. It'll be a while before they drop enough weight to fly again.

In the meantime, we will be enjoying the season.

My posts may be a bit more sporadic. More about the dogs - and the season.

Today is my wedding anniversary -so I am off to spend the day with my lovely wife.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eagles and Foxes

Does it get any better?
Check out the rest of the pictures at Querencia.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Japanese falconer with his goshawk

A hawk about to be set loose during a demonstration of Japanese traditional falconry at Hamarikyu Garden in Tokyo.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One of those days

The rain had been spitting throughout the afternoon and I only had a few moments to hunt. I dragged my reluctant teen with me as I was his ride home from school today. The clouds threatened, but the birds seemed game enough.

We couldn't find any squirrels. We tromped through the woods, prime habitat where i had flushed many squirrels this season. I knew they were out there, but I confess to being in a hurry and dashing along.

At one point I got yelled at by a bow hunter after deer. He was invisible. Even after he spoke, I had no idea where he was. I apologized for interrupting him and skedaddled along. I hate to ruin a hunt for anyone else, even if I do have the same right to be there. I realize I am loud and disruptive as I ho-ho through the forest.

At one point Tess was diving on a duck that sat in a vernal pond. She would swoop at the duck, and he would dive under the water. This continued for a good five minutes before I realized it would be a stalemate, with no good solution for me, and then I called her off.

We kept on, but darkness was closing in when we came upon the truck - and then we saw the first squirrel. The hawks gave chase, up the pine, moving to the neighboring trees for a better look.

The squirrel crossed, then crossed again through the next few trees. The hawks closed in, but were out of position. the squirrel reached the ground, where I lost it, and disappeared.

The hawks perched low, searching, but it was just too dark.

I called them back to the truck and we called it a day, driving out with the headlights on.

It was just one of those days.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Changing jewelry

Gonzo's old anklets had seen better days and I had been procrastinating about changing them. I was in the weathering area yesterday when his jesse broke at the leash hole. I had some back ups, but they were too thin. I wanted to beef them up a bit to cover his tarsus for squirrel hunting.

I am not a big fan of the Brewer Chaps. I know that there are a lot of disciples out there, but I am not convinced.

I've used them on both harris' and red tails, and I worry that the bird may have slower foot speed when using them, resulting in more bites instead of fewer. I have had the pleasure of meeting Brewer and I agree with about 90% of what he says. His book was one of my main teaching tools when it came to learning about squirrel hawking.

So anyway, we took off the old anklets and replaced Gonzo's jewelry. He's ready for more squirrels.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vultures in trouble

Second hand smoke is a problem for people, second hand poisoning can be a problem for animals. DDT was one of those problems. Lead shot, another. But even some of the best intended medicines can cause unintended consequences.

Vultures in some areas were almost killed off by shooters, but now there is a new threat in town. Those well intended vets.

Millions of Asian vultures, particularly those in India, have died off over the last two decades after being poisoned by the veterinary drug diclofenac. The vultures eat dead cattle and other livestock treated with the drug, then go into renal failure.

Now scientists have discovered that another veterinary drug, ketoprofen, is also fatal to the birds. Vultures which feed on the carcasses of livestock recently treated with ketoprofen suffer acute kidney failure and die within days of exposure.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Blogs

There are blogs I check every day and some I check every so often. Two new blogs I have just found are every dayers. These guys hunt with their birds. Just day after day of good hunting stories. Check them out.

Luscian the Harris Hawk: The trials and tribulations of training a first year bird.
Dan's Blog: Hunting with his Red tail - man, this guy is always ready to go.

Stacking the deck against myself

It was one of those days where nothing was really in my favor. The clouds had opened up all morning sending down wave after wave of torrential downpours. The birds had been fed up the day before as I knew it was coming.

The temperature was in the seventies. Then the sun peeked out. Could I? Would I? I went out and weighed the birds. Tess was way too high, 70 grams higher than I normally hunt her. She would probably still perform, but I didn't want to take the chance.

Gonzo was closer; 676 grams. 26 over what I like to fly him at, but I didn't know when I'd get another chance to fly. Gonzo was going solo.

The wind was blowing a steady twenty and gusting over thirty. The trees strained back and forth and the "bottoms" were truly flooded everywhere I looked. Even at his higher weight, Gonzo followed well, but I didn't have high hopes. Squirrels tend to hole up when the wind is high and they are hard to dislodge. Every time I pulled a vine a miniature rain shower would pelt me. I was drenched, Gonzo was fat and alone, and all the squirrels were holed up tight.

Then, to add insult to injury, a passage red tail nailed Gonzo in the top of a pine tree. He didn't even care that I was there until I started blowing my whistle. He was gorgeous, with the brightest white chest I had ever seen. He finally flew off and Gonzo and I kept on.

It was going to be one of those days. I didn't think I had a chance. Then, one vine,one nest, and a squirrel pops out the top. Ho-ho-ho.

I couldn't see much of the chase due to the dense canopy of the live oaks. Gonzo chased the squirrel tree to tree until I saw the bird fold up and dive straight down the side of the tree and nail the squirrel on the ground. Score one!

Transfer, move on.

Time was getting the better of me now and I start working my way back to the car. We chase a squirrel to a hole and lose it. Then Gonzo goes winging out over the flooded bottoms and alights in a tree right in the middle. He sees something out there. I can't get to him from where I stand, so I call to him, but he is busy diving at something that I can't see. I follow the "shoreline" around, looking for a way across.

It takes me fifteen minutes while I can hear Gonzo chasing something up and around on that same little island. Soon I am out of sight of him, but I can hear his bells and I find a possible way in. I cross part way by balancing on a log and shuffling across the wet, slippery bark, but the log runs out before the water does.

I thought it was a lost cause. But Gonzo knows there is something there. Screw it. I slide my feet into the water, feeling for the bottom. Knee deep, I start to wade. Thigh deep. Deeper. I start raising my hunting vest higher so it doesn't get wet.

I pull myself out on the little island. It is about four feet across and consists of two trees, cane, and an old rotted out log lying on the ground. Gonzo sits low, searching the ground, but there is nothing there. Only one place the critter can be, the log.

The wood is old and rotten, I begin tearing it apart, nothing. I probe it with a stick,nothing. I look up and around. I can't figure it, What happened to the critter. Gonzo saw something, and he was sure it was still here. There was no where fo it to be hiding in the tree. I give up, so I start to look for a better way off the island. I follow the hollow log out to where it terminates, half submerged in the water. Another hole. I probe this end with a stick. Gonzo launches.

I see nothing, but Gonzo bullets to the ground, there is a flash of fur from the end of the log, and my bird slams into the water with a splash. Gonzo rows with his wings, but is being pulled the other way under the water. And then a face emerges from the water, giant teeth first, clawing its way onto the leaf litter.

Ha ha - marsh rabbit! first rabbit of the season. Gonzo holds on tenuously as I grab hold. Gonzo relinquishes his grasp and waits off to the side for his tidbit.

I wade off the island thinking about hip waders, Gonzo going solo, and my first rabbit. Banner day - even with the cards stacked against us.

Big snakes

While I currently do not own any snakes of my own. I have in the past, I know that a lot of falconers also share a love of reptiles of all kinds. Right now there is a battle going on in government about the ban on the importation of large snakes into the United States.

Python shirt from here.

The USGS has reported on the topic and they have determined that the danger of large snakes being let loose and breeding in Florida is too high. They support the ban on importation of these snakes.

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers disagrees and calls the USGS report unscientific. National Geographic has done a nice job of trying to put forth a balanced argument on the debate without resorting to the sensationalism of other media outlets.

This is a hard topic to cover as so many people have been bombarded with disinformation about so many reptiles, and there is so much irrational fear of snakes in general (Think about the movies "Snakes on a Plane", or "Ananconda"). Peopel need to use their heads in situations like this, not their fear.

Biologists and veterinarians are urging the U.S. Congress to hold off on a ban on trade in pythons and other large exotic snakes until research into how much of a threat they pose to U.S. ecosystems has been thoroughly reviewed by independent scientists.

In a letter to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary (full text at the bottom of this blog entry), an independent group of scientists characterized a United States Geological Survey (USGS) report being touted as the justification for a ban on import and trade in pythons as "unscientific," stated a news release issued by United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK).

USARK President Andrew Wyatt presented written testimony to Congress last month. "It is our belief that best management practices and professional standards specific to certain reptiles is what is needed, not draconian measures that will only succeed in destroying a viable industry," he said. (Read a summary of Wyatt's testimony.)

Congress is weighing a ban on the importation of large snakes like pythons and boas following a report by the USGS earlier this year that stated that climate conditions might be conducive to the spreading of feral Burnese pythons across much of the southern part of the United States.

"The independent group of scientists and herpetologists, including professors from the University of Florida, Arizona State, and Texas A&M among others penned members of Congress in response to comments made by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) during a November 6th hearing on H.R. 2811, a bill that could determine the fate of much of the reptile trade in the United States," the USARK statement said.

"During that hearing USFWS Deputy Director Dan Ashe characterized the USGS report as "peer-reviewed science", a claim that struck a nerve within the scientific community.

"It is a misrepresentation to call the USGS document 'scientific'" stated the scientists," USARK said. "As written, this [USGS] document is not suitable as the basis for legislative or regulatory policies, as its content is not based on best science practices, it has not undergone external peer-review, and it diverts attention away from the primary concern.

Read the whole article and weigh in yourself.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Predator is prey

Predation on raptors by other raptors is pretty common, one of the reasons you see hawks mantling on the ground over their food is to hide their catch from other bigger birds. My birds have been intimidated by other birds. Gonzo got knocked out of a tree last season by a bald eagle, though in the end, Gonzo got the best of the eagle. But that is another story.

Just the other day a first year harris flown by Chuck Butler was grabbed by a big momma red tail. It is a risk you take every time you have your birds in the field and you do everything you can to minimize that risk.

On Friday, when I was bringing the birds out of the woods later than I would have liked, the hoot of a nearby great horned owl really got my attention. Had we been in the woods much longer, I would have started to get really worried.

Check out this video of a red tail and a peregrine.

Peregrine Falcon Vs. Snowy Owl

Found this today while searching around.

To the falcon, the owl was unwelcome competition for its hard-earned meal, and so when the unknowing owl flew from the dunes to the beach, the falcon had had enough, and attacked. These photos show the interaction that ensued.

Check out the rest of the photos here.

A plea from American Falconry

I received this in an email the other day and it made me sad. There are too few magazines dedicated to our sport out there. If you are a falconer, or just interested in becoming one; subscribe! Read the whole letter.

November 29, 2009

You may have noticed Volume 52 of American Falconry magazine is behind schedule. After 14 years of bringing you American Falconry, I'm afraid we have some disturbing news. Our revenues have dropped by almost 50% this year. We have always enjoyed bringing the magazine to you, and while we are willing to continue working for no pay, we can't fund the printing cost out of our own pockets. The solution we have implemented is to delay printing issues until sufficient funds to pay for the printing and mailing are in hand. We are close to having enough for Volume 52 but still have a ways to go.

We intend to send you the same number of magazines you paid for. A one year subscription is four issues, even if it takes longer than a year to receive them. If you'd rather not wait so long for the next issue to come out, please talk to your buddies and get them to subscribe, or better yet buy them a gift subscription. You could even renew your subscription early. In the event that income doesn't improve, and we are forced to cease publication, we will fill the remainder of your subscription with back issues of your choice from available stocks. This decision will come early next year. The future of American Falconry magazine is truly in the readerships hands.

Click here to subscribe.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Falcon pics

I ran out to Andrews today. He's out of town and his falcon got free of her leash. We got her all clipped up and she was kind enough to pose for a picture.

It was a grey and dreary day otherwise.

Problem solving

I am consistently amazed at the problem solving abilities of animals. Watching the Patrick's dogs work groundhog, my own birds on squirrels, etc. It is cool to see how the animals figure out what to do next. This is a great clip on how a sparrowhawk solves his screaming magpie problem.

Phillippine Eagle

Photograph by: Klaus Nigge, National Geographic March 2008

Thanks to National geographic magazine for this article.

The Philippine eagle is one of the largest and most endangered eagles in the world. The raptor is currently documented on just four Philippine islands—Mindanao, Luzon, Leyte, and Samar. Scientists estimate that perhaps only a few hundred pairs remain in the wild.

With a wingspan of nearly seven feet and a weight of up to 14 pounds, the species, Pithecophaga jefferyi, casts an impressive shadow as it soars through its rain forest home. Its long tail helps it skillfully maneuver while hunting for its elusive prey, like flying lemurs or palm civets.

But securing prey has become increasingly difficult for one of the world’s largest raptors: Continued deforestation due to logging and development in the Philippines has pushed the eagle to the brink of extinction. Today those that remain struggle to find enough food and habitat to survive. Though some of these resourceful birds have adjusted to the reduced surroundings, development continues to threaten their existence.

Of course my question is "can it be used for falconry?"

The White Hawk Mystery

He calls the bird a “white hawk mystery.”

Is it male? Female?

A red-tailed or a rough-legged hawk?

He wonders.

His hunch is the big white bird might be female.

He saw it sitting with a regular red-tailed hawk who was calling the standard call. He thought maybe that bird was a male flirting with the white bird.

Read the rest here.

Good Read

Every once in a while you find a post somewhere that you weren't expecting, but really enjoy reading. This was one of those. Over at Born-to-track they write about some of the history of hunting and tracking dogs from the 17-1800's and their relationship with their particular hunter and game.

Browning described his preferences for deer and bear dogs in some detail. From the start he wanted big dogs that were strong and fast like Watch. At the end of his career Meshach seemed to have a pretty clear idea of how to breed what would be useful to him. He worked with variations of the bulldog/greyhound cross. "Take a half-blooded pup," he advised, "a cross between the bulldog and the greyhound...." He did not stick to a rigid formula....

It's a good read and really makes you think about what it must have been like. Take a minute and read the whole thing.

Friday, December 4, 2009

That's a new one

It is supposed to rain - possibly snow - All weekend. Snow would be fun, but rain would ruin my plans. So I went out for another quickie after work today. I had a few errands to run first, but I had an hour to get out before dark and I took advantage of it.

I am constantly amazed at how resourceful squirrels are when hard pressed by two hawks and a ground locked human. This was one of those hunts.

We went back to the spot with the flooded lowlands. I put on my hunting vest, donned my chaps and waded into the cane break.

The birds did much better staying on only one side. We secured our first squirrel in short order with a nice chase and a grab on the ground.

We lost the next one when he crossed two trees, spiraling down a trunk and then popping into a hole. I dropped the squirrel into the game pouch in the vest, adn the weight of it brought a smile to my face as we moved deeper into the woods looking for number 2.

It was getting close to 4:30, my official time to head out of the woods before it got too dark, when the birds pinged on another.

It was a great chase from elm to elm, up to the top of a towering pine, where Gonzo pounced and there was a brief struggle, before the squirrel broke free. The birds were hot on his heels and he was certainly feeling the pressure.

Next thing I knew, the squirrel was scrabbling down the side of a pine. I was beating the trunk, trying it to move back up. It stopped halfway down and our eyes met. He stared at me briefly, but then kept coming, straight at me. At the last second, the squirrel leaped over my head towards a branch behind me. I turned to follow his progress, but the squirrel was gone.

I turned in circles, the hawks peering from the branches above, but there was no squirrel.

Suddenly, I felt my game pouch moving suspiciously. The squirrel was scampering around, inside my vest.... Apparently, he had jumped over my head and dropped down the back of my vest in search of safety. He obviously had very little fear of me.

Gonzo dropped down lower in the branches, when the squirrel popped his head out of my armpit. I knew gonzo could see him and didn't want a hawk grabbing around my armpit, so I grabbed the squirrels head and pulled him from my vest and tossed him into the air for the birds to grab. Gonzo darted in, but the squirrel twisted in mid air, and Gonzo missed.

The squirrel hit the ground, with Tess just a short distance behind,and disappeared into some thick underbrush from which I couldn't shake him. He deserved to get away. We moved on, but by now it was getting too dark to see much more than silhouettes and we turned back towards the truck.

It was going to have to be a one squirrel day.

The birds followed me out of the woods. By this time I was getting leery about Great Horned owls, but the truck was just a bit farther. 50 yards from the truck, Tess drops from the trees and grabs something on the ground. I couldn't see what it was, but I waded in and grabbed what was in her talons.

There it was, squirrel number 2. The birds pulled it off in the end.

Another good day.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We've Been Here Before

We've been to this spot before, but not this year. Usually I would wait until after deer season, but this year I figured we;d give it a try. It was a good hunt. the bottoms where I hunted last year are all flooded, so I had to avoid those, but it seemed that the water may have pushed the squirrels into greater concentrations on the ridges. We had chase after chase. Lots of holes, lots of running and it was all up and down hills with 45 degree sides. I was exhausted at the end.

In an hour, we bagged two squirrels and came close to many more. Twice we stumbled into nests that held either two or three squirrels each but I lost track and count.
Number 11 & 12
A good day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NC Squirrel Hawking - Local guys and Red Tails

Afternoon hunt

I had about an hour after work today to get out in the field after some bushy tails. I went to a spot that I have not been to yet this season. It is very popular with the deer hunters and I generally avoid it until after deer season. But it was late on Tuesday so I thought I would be alright.

The best places to hunt in this particular stretch of woods are a series of ridges that have mixed oak, pine, and pig nut hickory. It is full of squirrels. The problem that I did not take into account, even though I have been complaining about it for weeks, was the water. All of those valleys were now pools of standing water

Temps were in the fifties, and I had an hour of daylight. I pulled the birds out and tossed them into the trees. I noticed the water and figured that as long as I stayed along the ridge I was on, we would be just fine.

I got out the camera to pop a shot at the birds, and they were off, winging their way across the water. Of course.

I had to track around the pond to find a place to cross, and when I did, the birds were already hot on the tail of a squirrel. I followed the best I could, weaving around the water and banging on the trees. They crossed another pond, the squirrel diving from branch to branch in a frantic chase, before Tess took a swipe at it and plucked it out of mid air, parachuting down with it, and landing with a splash.

She dragged the drenched squirrel out of the water and onto the pine needles. I waded around to find them, the squirrel already dead.

Perfect transfer, and we chased another. we lost two to holes, the squirrels seemed to be crossing the water as often as possible. It didn't bother the birds, but it really got annoying to the short, out of shape guy on the ground. They grabbed one on the ground, both birds piling on, but somehow the squirrel twisted free in the birds' confusion, and soared out of their grasp to the nearest tree trunk. Found a hole, and was gone. If you look hard, you can see the squirrel about to disappear around the trunk.

Finally, the birds zeroed in on a vine tangle near the top of a tree. I didn't see anything, but I trust my birds. So I started tugging vines, and Gonzo hit it like a missile. Then Tess piled in and hit it from below, both hawks grabbing hold.

It was a bit precarious as the birds may be up there grabbing one another, while the squirrel chews on toes and legs.

Two hawks and a squirrel in a tree.

I blew my whistle and tossed a mouse to the side. Both birds disentangled themselves and dropped, the squirrel falling freely.

Tess set her wings and glided to the mouse, Gonzo folded and followed the squirrel. The squirrel hit first, bounced, then Gonzo nailed him. The squirrel squealed, and I waded in.

We dropped this one in the bag. The sunlight was fading, so we called it a day.

Number 9 and 10.