Jackhammer: 8lbs 6oz
Temp: 57’ / Wind: 0 mph
In a normal season I would be shutting down the eagles and switching over to my falcons now. But this is not a normal season.. With the move to Oregon hopefully coming up, the IEAA meet in Garden City, and NAFA, well, JH’s season may never end. It will, of course, end, just not in the immediate future.
We received another golden eagle a few weeks ago, a male, and he looks to be on the smaller side. The story on this eagle is truly remarkable. I don’t know all the fine details, but here’s what I do know. At a very young age, before he fledged, he suffered a broken leg in two places, and suffered a broken back! Somehow he found his way to Dr. Vicky Joseph, she put a pin in his leg, did something to his back to fix that, and he spent a great many weeks in recovery, laying on his chest. This eagle’s chances for recovery were not good, the chances for recovery with some kind of life with movement were even less. However, this little guy came through. Not only did he recover, he recovered enough to go into the big flight with other eagles! Looking at him today, other than a larger left tarsus, I cannot see anything that looks abnormal in his flight and footing abilities. So, what to do with this little guy who has come from the absolute doorstep of death, not to mention that he should by all accounts be paralyzed. Imprinting is already a major issue. He is, in fact, a fully imprinted eagle, but not in a nice way. He was so aggressive in the big flight chamber, attacking people without mercy so badly, that he had to be removed and sent to us thanks a lot! The plan is to train him, get him hunting, and see where that takes us. But that is a big step; he may not be a bird that can be trusted out in the field loose. That question is yet to be answered.
in my opinion, golden eagle are inherently shy, at least all the ones I have trained over the years have been. For such a large aggressive predator the times when the shyness in them comes out surprises me. Sometimes there seems to be no reason for them to get shy, but they do and it can catch me off guard. With that said, today’s flight was somewhat surprising, if not remarkable. I went into the FFH first, not sure why exactly, some days I feel like taking it on and others not so much. I walked most of the field and did not flush one jack which rarely happens and I was just a little puzzled until I saw other footprints in the field which could only mean one thing,. Harris hawkers! So, from the FFH I went over to the goat field hoping the other falconers had left some jacks for me.
Over the years all the other fields have changed dramatically. This field, however, has remained somewhat the same. But the activity surrounding this field has taken on a major change on all sides. There are now huge trucking yards, a glass factory, and at the far end is a fertilizer plant. The entire field is fenced off in cyclone fencing which helps the jacks escape from a host of predators that include not only JH but coyotes as well. This field had also been hunted but there are so many jacks in there I figured the odds were good that I’d still get a flight or two. After walking ¾’s of the field and JH making three attempts at jacks running in the thicker weeds, I angled my way away from the thick stuff. This field is big, but the jacks hang out closer to the cyclone fences so they can get under them and escape. I normally walk down this field keeping the glass factory on one side so JH doesn’t have to fly at jack rabbits heading into the cluster that is the factory (see picture). Probably 45 yards out in front of me a jack flushed heading straight at the factory! Having missed three times already (and missing is something that JH does not like) I was surprised that he launched on this rabbit. JH was flying hard and fast attempting to close on this jack before it got any closer to the factory. JH got there just as the jack made the bank. Going around the pole, the jack started to violently zigzag left and right. JH matched the jack on a right zig and as the jack made a left zag, JH snagged it! The entire time he was on this rabbit JH never took his eyes off the glass factory, even while dragging the jack rabbit as fast as he could for some distance. Looking at the picture you can see there are a lot of scary things to see for an eagle flying after a jack rabbit.
Hope all is well,
Pic 1: This is what JH was looking at as he flew down the jack rabbit.
Pic 2: JH on the rabbit, still looking at the glass factory.
Pic 3: A perfect jack rabbit starting block where they hide out in the fields.