March 30, 2009

March 30, 2009

Wt. 9.3 lbs

I have skipped a couple of days due to high winds but today was gorgeous and I prepared Penny for another training session. I called her about 50 yards to the lure, 5 or 6 times, and she did super. Tomorrow I will fly her free. This is a huge step for her on the road to freedom. Truthfully, I could have flown her free the last two times but she needs a considerable amount of conditioning and if she was to fly off I think the odds might not be in her favor. One sign I look for before flying an eagle free for the first time is how it reacts when the hood comes off out in the field. For example, the first time they look around and then want to leave, but as time goes on and they figure out what the deal is, things change. The last couple of days when her hood was removed Penny flew out into the field, landed on her own accord and turned looking for the lure. That’s how I know she is ready for free flight.

March 31, 2009

Wt 9.3 lbs

Cordi and I drove out into the sage to an area that we hoped would be good for Penny’s first free flight. The wind was up a bit but I did not think it would be a problemI was wrong.

The area we chose is wide open with some hills on the east side but there is a huge grassland area. After changing her jesses to ones that are thinner and less likely to get hung up, and zip tying the transmitter onto one cuff, I carried Penny out into the field. I unhooded her and she launched off down- wind landing about 60 yards from me. I pulled out the lure and started to drag it along, wanting to call her in. She turned and launched into the wind and turned quickly downwind heading for the hills. Suddenly a female ferruginous hawk came from upwind and stooped her, hit her, and Penny was out of there. She caught the wind, climbed up and over the now bigger hills, and was gone. Cordi and I spent the next three hours tracking her in and around the mountains with the signal going from strong to weak to nothing. We finally located her out in a sage covered area that is loaded with game ducks, pheasants, quail and jack rabbits, and one very pissed off pair of red tailed hawks. It was the red tails that showed us where Penny was. We just simply watch them for a few minutes and, sure enough, they started to stoop on Penny. Red tails are good that way — if there is an eagle around they will be after it. I walked out into the sage heading in her direction but the moment she saw me she was gone. I could not get within a ¼ of a mile to her. I did notice, however, that when she was in the air I was getting a signal from the opposite direction, which meant that Penny and my transmitter were no longer connected. I tracked down my transmitter not far from where I was standing. That quickly she had removed the transmitter and is probably working on the jesses and cuffs which will come off easily. I have always said I don’t mind loosing eagles that are going to be released; I just want my transmitter back. So thanks, Penny.

April 1, 2009

I went back this morning to see if, after flying around all day, I could call Penny in, cut off the cuffs and feed her. So I drove up on a high road which would give me a view of the area where I had last seen her. I watched one of the red tails thermalling over the sage. It went quite high, climbing in the sky, and suddenly broke off in an ever increasing stoop. This could mean one of two things — a courtship display while heading to the nest tree or the presence of an intruder which I hoped was Penny. The red tail’s stoop ended in a wingover going straight down, obviously on the attack. A second red tail followed the first bird with a stoop as well. This could only mean one thing, Penny! I drove over and stood on the tail gate of my truck, looking out across the sage and there, sitting on a fence post near the river, was Penny. I headed out in her direction and as soon as she saw me she was gone, flying strongly across the river, disappearing in the cover. I realized that any chance of calling her in was not going to happen. Penny had made herself perfectly clear, she is wild. And so it ends and I wish her luck. .