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Slave to a Coops
Just finished writing this for our state publication, and haven't come up with a title for it yet, but I thought I'd share it here. Most of this will all be recap for you guys, of course, but I hope you enjoy it anyway!

idk come up with a title for me, I suck at that part.Collapse )
Slave to a Coops
15 January 2013 @ 10:52 am
Sunday's hunt was the last before the first day of class, and a perfect ending to my winter break. Pele has made a lot of good chases on bunnies this year, but cover has been thick enough where most of them slip away from her before she can get her feet on them. To her credit, she has always kept trying, and on Sunday, within about an hour of me tripping and stumbling my way through patches of vines and brambles, I kicked a bunny out of its hiding spot. It darted for the edge of an agricultural ditch, which at this field is really more of a steep eroded creek bank, and usually that means certain bunny escape as the plants grow very thick on the inside of that ditch, but Pele had the advantage of height and managed to grab it before it could get more than 20 feet. She had it by the shoulders, which isn't great but better than the butt end at least, and was barely able to hold it down while I came to her rescue. The way she had her feet on it made it hard for me to get my hands in and dispatch it, because she could have decided at any moment to grab my hand as it reached under her - that isn't normally a problem if she has it by the head. Thankfully she wanted the bunny more than she wanted to foot me, so I was able to sort of awkwardly help her out.

Aaand of course I fail at having a real camera on me DEAL WITH IT.

I'm pretty sure this is the biggest one she's caught yet. I didn't put it on the scale but I'd guess it was close to around 3 pounds. Compare that to a 410g (0.8 lb) bird, and it's just amazing to me that she can even hold these things down long enough for me to run over there and assist.

Tonight's dinner: slow-cooked cottontail curry. Yes please.
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Slave to a Coops
22 November 2012 @ 05:05 pm
She did exceptionally well today. I was worried it wouldn't work out since it was supposed to be really warm, but it ended up being overcast and breezy and she was around 392g, and it was the perfect combination. We went to the field behind the Red Lobster, which I often avoid because of how close it is to people, but on Thanksgiving of course it was absolutely empty. She missed the first bird that flushed, and that seemed to make her pretty pissed off, so the next three she was absolutely determined to get, and did so each time, flying as fast as I've ever seen her go, twisting and diving through the grass to get to them. I honestly didn't think she'd caught the last two sparrows until I heard her plucking them - usually this season so far, birds that have made it to that kind of thick cover have gotten away from her, but she was hell on wings and not about to let any of them get away.

Pele had a delicious sparrow dinner.Collapse )
Slave to a Coops
15 November 2012 @ 10:11 pm
I'll come up with the total count later, but I just absolutely love this photo I got today so I figured I'd upload it now for you guys and write up the rest of the update later.

So pretty~Collapse )
Slave to a Coops
04 November 2012 @ 09:31 am
Sorry for the lack of updates! To me it feels like it hasn't been that long and nothing much has happened, but that's because for the better part of the past two weeks, it's been too warm to fly Pele reliably. I think that's finally ended, though - it better have, anyway. It's November now, so summer really ought to be over. Freaking South, man, the weather here is just stupid sometimes, haha. The warm weather also has meant the sparrows still haven't really gone down into the fields yet. There's plenty of food up north for the migrants, and plenty of food in town for the ones that stay here year-round. Thankfully that's beginning to change. I'm also seeing a sad lack of rabbits so far - there were so many early in the summer, but I think the extended drought we had must have hit them hard. We have yet to go back to our best rabbit field though, so I'm hoping numbers are good there.

10/27 - 400g, #3, a mystery bird (she ate it before I could see what it was). This weight is still a little high for her right now, as she seemed nervous and not willing to let me come very close after catching the bird. A juvenile female Coopers swung by to see what we were up to and perhaps score an easy meal, but Pele shouted at her and the younger bird turned and flew the other way.

10/31 - 398g, #4. One of those flights in which a sparrow decided to pop up right in front of us and try and outfly her and was promptly stomped back into the ground. That, my friends, is why juvenile house sparrows don't often live long.

What you lookin" at?Collapse )

11/1 - 394g, #5. We went to FP2 this time, since we hadn't been there in a while. It was really slow, though. Pele did great and sat on the glove, ready at a moment's notice to chase anything she saw, but there just weren't many birds. At one point she missed a bird that flushed, came back to the glove, and was so wired up with the need for something to die that she bolted off the fist at a large flying grasshopper. And then suddenly realized she didn't want it and dove off into the grass instead, haha. She had a really excellent chase on another bird and was right on its tail, until it dumped into the grass to try and lose her. She went right for it and it flushed again, and she chased it in spirals until it made it to the trees. That flight left her panting hard, which is good because she needed the workout! She later managed to catch one in some heavy brush, which always impresses me. Stuff I can barely walk through, she can dive right into and push through it better than those little birds. I have photos but... they turned out really blurry and/or washed out. Bad lighting I guess.

11/2 - 390g, #6&7. Decided her weight was right and so was her behavior, so it's time to start catching multiples. Went to FP3, which was really slow, unfortunately. It's still just too early in the year. After about half an hour of looking, she managed to grab a sparrow, so I let her eat it and we continued on. Another 15 minutes, and we flushed what she and I both thought was a rabbit. She bound to its head, and they tumbled, and then it started hissing and snarling. Crap! She'd caught a cat! It was a half-grown orange tabby, about the same size and color as a cottontail, that had been completely invisible in the grass until it bumped. I honestly don't even remember what happened here, because of how fast everything went. I managed to separate the two of them, grabbed the cat around the ribs, and threw it, and thankfully Pele didn't try to chase it again. I think all three of us were pretty shocked! The cat ran off, Pele was unhurt, and I only had a couple small scratches. Really lucky on all accounts. Please, please, if you have cats, keep them indoors. Please. I can't say this enough. They're a danger to everything out there.

Also I'm really sad that wasn't a rabbit because rabbit stew and parkin for 11/5 would have been perfect.

11/3 - 385g, #8&9. I was a little worried Pele would be low on energy at this weight - she'd burned more during the day than I had anticipated. But it was another 80 degree day, and at this weight, those temperatures are actually doable. We went back to FP3 and doubled again, this time both sparrows, so she got to eat her fill. The second flight was the best - she chased the bird, it pulled up into the air, and she went vertically up after it, and reached her feet above her head to try and grab it! She missed, but it was fun to watch. The sparrow tried to go down into the grass and hide, and Pele followed right on its tail and grabbed it in the grass. Had it just kept going up, it would have escaped. Rookie mistake.

And now, picspamCollapse )
Slave to a Coops
22 October 2012 @ 05:03 pm
As of last Friday, Pele was back down to a nice lean 388g. She had been responding well indoors, and had one session on the creance on Thursday during which she did very well at the baseball field, so I figured what the heck, we'd go for it. We didn't manage to catch anything on Friday - good old Frog Pond 3 didn't have much bird activity, sadly, though she made some really good chases on sparrows and two bunnies and got some good exercise.

And of course she goes and blinks in the one shot that isn"t blurry from her moving...Collapse )
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Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Slave to a Coops
07 October 2012 @ 11:15 am
Pele is done molting, minus a handful of feathers that are finishing coming in, so it was time to bring her back home. I've been reducing her weight over the past couple weeks, and on Friday she was willing to let me walk up to her and put new jesses in while she ate, so I figured if I could do that much, I could pick her up and take her home. So I did! As of yesterday morning, after putting over her crop, she weighed a whopping 523g. I'm amazed she was willing to tolerate me in the mews at a weight like that, honestly. I'll have to bring her down closer to 400g to get her back in hunting shape because right now if I took her outside, she'd just fly up into a tree and sit there and be lazy and never come back down. Little pig. ;)

Anyway, she has a lot to get re-used to, like hanging out in the apartment and not being terrified when I walk over and try to give her food, but she's coming around. It'll just take some time. She is, however, sporting a lovely new hood that I made for her. I think of the hoods I've made, this one came out the best by far! I'm still tweaking the beak opening slightly, but she wears it well and it's nice and lightweight.

Such a stylish birdCollapse )
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Slave to a Coops
22 August 2012 @ 06:52 pm
It's been a long, lazy summer for Pele. As of yesterday, she has finished dropping all of her tail feathers and primaries, so all that's left are body feathers. I don't think she'll finish dropping her secondaries, but they're still in good shape, so no harm in keeping them, I suppose. She'll probably retain a few brown juvenile feathers on her back and shoulders, as well. But she's looking much more like an adult Coopers now, and man, will she be pretty when she's done. Her beak has gotten a little long over the summer, so hopefully I'll get some assistance in trimming it when I get her down in a few weeks, here. I'm not in too much of a hurry, since I can't fly her in these 100-degree afternoons anyway.

So pretty!Collapse )
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Slave to a Coops
16 May 2012 @ 02:13 pm
Well heck, no hunting doesn't have to mean no news whatsoever! Pele is having a great time bouncing off the walls in her summer vacation home at Heath's place. I can't weigh her right now, but I'd guess it's probably something over her trap weight, so up in the mid-500 gram range. Right now, she'll come down to food (sometimes) if I put it on a perch, and then she'll let me walk up to her and hand her more. She'll even stand on the glove if what I have looks tasty enough, and eat comfortably there for a while, but every little noise or movement is distracting to her, at which point she will raise her crest and gape at me with a look that basically tells me if I make one more wrong move, I will, in fact, lose my face. The fact that she'll put up with me at all is encouraging, though. Most Coopers I hear of, when fed up for the molt, revert to a pretty wild state and don't want anything to do with people. Pele acts that way around Heath, but she seems to still trust me to some extent.

Since late April, she has been shedding a belly feather here and there, but on 5/14 she dropped her first flight feather, the innermost primary on her left wing. Yesterday she dropped the next one in line, along with a handful of other body feathers. Hooray, the molt is officially begun! It'll take her a few months to drop and regrow all the rest of her feathers, so I'm glad she's finally gotten going on that. The sooner she finishes, the sooner we can get back out there and get the new crop of bunnies before the coyotes eat them all. I've also located some quail spots through my fieldwork, and I'm excited to try and catch a few with her this fall.

On vacationCollapse )
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