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Falconry Basics | How to handle and feed your bird of prey



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hi everyone today I'm going to talk

about how we hold and handle our birds

and the way in which we approach them

and how we feed them in the right manner

these small things will make a massive

difference to the way that you react to

your bird and your bird reacts to you

when we ask our bird to sit on the glove

it's really where the beginning of all

the trust develops so the way in which

you pick your bird up will spell the

difference between potentially a good or

a bad session it's going to set the pace

and the feel of the day so if you handle

your bird in a comfortable and safe

manner your bird is going to trust you a

lot more than if you're miss handling it

and making it an uncomfortable journey

so the way in which we hold our birds

not only for safety but also for their

comfort has a massive effect on their

trust in us

so before I pick up a bird and show you

with the bird on my hand I just wanted

to talk about the glove itself and the

way in which we hold our hand so the

position of our hand firstly something

that people forget about falconry gloves

is that you need to be able to feel

through the glove you need to have a

glove that is actually supple so that

when you move your fingers and you can

actually feel what's happening this is

made out of deer I always seem to get

gloves out of deer and they can often be

made out of calf hide and you can find

that calf is very very tough whereas

deer still has that toughness in terms

of protecting our skin from the birds

talons but it's a lot more supple so I

can open and close my hand this glove

fits me perfectly and I can feel with my

fingers exactly what I'm doing

although most of our work is done with

our bare hands usually your right hand

because most people will hold their bird

on their left hand I still never need to

be able to feel where the jessee's are

going the swivel what's going on the

birds feet so it's good to have a glove

that you can actually move your fingers

in if you can't move your fingers close

your hand properly you won't actually

have control of the birds furniture and

potentially that's going to make the

difference in the handling so we don't

need a glove that's super thick and we

don't need a glove that is overkill and

I have larger gloves I'll show you those

as well but for most of my smaller

falcons owls and small Hawks that I fly

this single thickness wrist length glove

will do me absolutely fine I don't need

anything bigger than that for my larger

more powerful Hawks I have a slightly

longer glove so this will sit my female

got soft and female Harris Hawk quite

happily on here and it's double

thickness but if you see I've still got

exactly the same amount of flexibility

even though it's a lot of thicker and

I've still got that freedom of movement

which means I can safely hold my Birds

the position that we should be making

with our hand is a closed fist on top of

that we want to be aiming to put the

thumb up towards the sky

so a lot of people tend to hold their

hand more rolled forward if I bring my

glove over here so that there's this big

flat platform this whole part here

facing up but what we want to do is I

actually tuck those fingers in and it

will make sense when you see my hand in

safety with the bird and this thumb

should be pointing up so I'll just turn

my hand so that you can see so a lot of

people hold it this way really you want

to rotate your wrist a bit so your

thumbs pointing up so basically the bird

should be sitting along your thumb it

almost acts like a miniature branch and

you'll find that its feet will stick

much more naturally on the glove that

way than if they have to spread their

foot over the whole top of your hand

there so try to roll your hand back a

little bit and you'll see the difference

that it makes the other thing to bear in

mind is where our arm is where our elbow

is in relation to now our hand so some

people hold their bird really square on

like this and I'm not exaggerating this

look pretty silly down here special bird

and so they hold their hand like this if

you roll that finger up and bend your

elbow a little bit so your hand is

slightly higher in your elbow you'll

find again that the bird will sit much

more comfortably it's also more

comfortable for us I have to turn side

on here so you can see so this is my

natural position not that basically it

means that if the birds wiggling around

the lower hand is the more likely the

bird is to climb birds won't actually

want to sit on the highest point so if

you drop your hand down they will

naturally flap and climb their way up

and if you weren't holding on to Jess's

for example they're going to end up on

your shoulder and that's not because I

love you or they want to sit on your

shoulder they're just looking for the

highest safest perch to sit on so going

back to being side on this is the

natural position when I carry a bird

I'll do it from this side as well like

this

not like this it means that the birds

more or less eisah I level with me and

he's got a nice flat perch to sit on my

arms not going to get tired because it's

close into my body which for the larger

birds is quite important because they

weigh quite a lot for their size so if

you're carrying them out for a couple of

hours if I'm out hunting with the female

goshawk that's going to get heavy after

a while so me holding my arm out here is

going to tie pretty quickly so I'll now

switch on to putting a bird on my glove

so you can see how he's naturally set on

the glove with me and Brent again just

rotate round so you can see it from a

few different angles but he sat how I

would naturally hold him so on top of my

finger here I'm a little chap if I turn

him this way you can see how he's almost

eye to eye with me my elbow slightly

dropped although my hands slightly

higher than my elbow my hands totally

flat well as holding our hand in the

right position we need to hold the bird

in safety so when you hear about the

safety position basically all it means

is that the Jess's which coughs you come

down from the anklets here go behind

your thumb so underneath the thumb and

then they go underneath your middle

finger so your third finger close your

fingers in he sat on my thumb here and

you can see the swivel is locked in

I can then loop up all this excess leash

because we don't want all of that

dangling down you can see it's as almost

as long as he is underneath so if he was

to bait off my glove he's going to get

wearing his head even may be trapped in

there so you never want to walk around

with this dangling around loop this up

into your bottom finger there's no

particular way help but just make sure

it's out of the way and now that birds

in safety position so we can carry him

comfortably we also know that he's not

going to get caught up and if we do let

go if we fall over trip up as we throw

our hand out he's still attached by the

d-ring where the Falcon is not

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moving on from how we safely and

comfortably hold our bird this then ties

in very well with how we should be

correctly feeding the bird a lot of

people put the food up underneath the

therm where the jessee's have actually

come down this causes two problems

firstly it will cover your birds

furniture in food if you're holding on

to Jess's they're going to get food on

the Jess's but secondly it makes for

some incredibly uncomfortable eating so

if you put the food up underneath the

therm under here the bird is going to

have to lean down under his own Ches

under his crop in order to eat so when

he bends right underneath himself he's

taking his eyes off his surroundings and

it's a lot more uncomfortable because

even our captive bred birds of prey will

naturally look out and around them to

make sure there's no other predatory

threats that might take their food what

am i feeding a bird on our glove and

this is particularly important for a

young bird or a bird that's just started

training we want to build that trust and

build that bond and the way to do that

is to present the food in the right

manner so that the bird can eat their

food but they're not going to feel like

they have to take our eyes off us the

way in which we should feed them isn't

by pushing food underneath the phone but

instead putting it in front of the thumb

now if you've not seen this before it

will look quite strange initially but if

you take a look into the history books

on falconry you'll see exactly how to do

it and it's something that you'll see

follow through time and time again you

should be gripping the food with these

fingers here so if you remember your

bird start on your thumb here your

jess's are come down behind the thumb

and then you've got this big part here

and that is where you should grip your

by putting the food here out in front

the bird still bends down to eat but he

doesn't have to bend right underneath

himself so it makes for a much more

comfortable experience when he's eating

it allows him to feel safer he can look

around and it will increase that trust

bond that we're developing look at his

position now that the food and the thumb

you can see the difference in the way

that he eats

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so I'm going to show you exactly the

same process feeding with my goshawk

Elwin and he's less excitable than the

vulcan around food

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you can see clearly how much room his

feet have and the fact that he can still

eat his dinner as well so it's quite

clear to see the way in which you hold

your glove is not only critical for

safely handling a bird of prey

but also for building that bond of trust

between both of you if you can present

food in the right way you can handle

your bird in the right way that allows

them to be comfortable and secure they

are the building blocks for when you

move on to your training and your flying

sessions a bird that knows it's what

somewhere comfortable and safe to sit

will consistently want to come back

choose the person

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you