Luscian is the first Harris Hawk produced out of my breeding project… I am fairly new to the Raptor Propagation arena having just secured a Federal Permit in the Spring of 2008. Currently my focus is on 3 breeding pair of HH’s. I am working towards putting together a pair of North American Goshawks and currently have one mature female imprint NA Goshawk who will stand for AI but am still growing and developing a tiercel for donation purposes. I am also just putting together my first pair of Peregrine Falcons and these will be setup as a natural pair with no current AI intentions with the Falcon side of the Project at this time. My love for the Falconry Sport inspired a natural transition into the desire to produce my own raptors and hopefully produce quality raptors for others to fly as well. I currently have no designs on becoming a large or full time Raptor Breeder, just one that enjoys working closely with my birds and gaining an added bit of pleasure and knowledge from doing so…
I am pleased and honored in having Chuck become the first recipient of my breeding project efforts. I look forward to seeing this tiercel develop into a terrific game hawk under Chuck’s guidance. Lee Slikkers 616.318.7366
Charlie Kaiser Note
While many claim the HH is "too easy" as a falconry bird, that's not reallythe case. While it is probably the easiest NA raptor to take game with,realizing the full potential of the HH requires discipline and attention todetail just as with any raptor.Weight control is critical for top performance, although many will ridiculethat statement. A tame HH will indeed hunt at a wide range of weights, butonce the true hunting weight is found, you begin to see the capabilities ofthis magnificent hawk.Jennifer Coulsen has written, IIRC, that many HHs are regularly flown at asmuch as 100 g above their true hunting weight, and the owners complain thatthe bird is lackadaisical. "Oh, it's at weight alright; it follows closely,begs for food, and chases "hard", but doesn't seem to catch anything."That's a typical fat HH. They learn the feeding game quickly. Cowboy, our 22year old, will still come instantly to the fist and beg for food at 780g,and his hunting weight is 610g. They learn the drill.Once the true hunting weight is found (or should I say hunting hungermanagement), the bird's hunting will become much different. Slips thatpreviously resulted in a chase but missed catch will result in a catch muchmore often than not. More challenging quarry can be taken. Longer slips willresult. The difference is stunning... Weight control cannot beoveremphasized with the HH. While it's definitely not the only factor, it'sa huge one... As with any hawk, putting them over lots of game while at a good huntingweight breeds success. Nothing like early successes in the field to buildconfidence and ability. Especially if you can fly the young hawks with otherexperienced birds from the beginning, they will learn very fast. Earlysocialization with other hawks is important for long-term behaviorfoundations, too. Once properly socialized, they will retain it for a longtime, but a young hawk flown without others for the first season or two willhave trouble adjusting later on. It's worth the time to find other HHers tofly with for that first season. The cooperative behavior and hunting successisn't as important at that time as the socialization, IMO. The cooperativebehavior will come with time and experience; the socialization happens fromthe start. And the hunting party socialization is different from theparent/siblings socialization, IMO. Actual hunting seems to build differentsocial skills than the hawk learns at "home". Over the years, I've practiced taking multiple kills as well as single killsper hunt. While I think that the choice is a personal issue, ifcircumstances allow for single kill hunts that provide adequate fun for thefalconer and exercise for the hawk, then the single kill style should bepracticed. I didn't always feel this way, but came around to this thinking afew years back. I spent a bunch of time with Jim Dawson and we talked aboutthe issue at length. We used to take 2-5 jacks per hunt with the two boys,and had a lot of fun doing it. Jim kept telling me that it wasn't the HH'snatural hunting style; that they eventually resent it and stop working sohard. Letting them feed on every kill was more natural and the birds wouldwork harder for the kills. At the time, I was driving >100 miles each way togo hawking and I wasn't about to get out of the truck, catch a jack in 2minutes, and go home. But I kept thinking about it. When we moved to AZ andthe first year was a down game year, we started the single kill hunts. Longstory short, I was stunned at how much harder the boys pursued game. Therewas no letting up on any slip. Previously, if a rabbit made a good move, thebirds just kinda went "Oh well, there'll be another one". But now they wentafter every rabbit like it was the only one in the field. The 500+ yardslips are normal now. If it moves in their vision, it gets pursuedrelentlessly. I've seen them reflush a bunny by themselves as many as 8times before we could get to them to help.We still go after multiples at times, but the birds always get to eat a biton the kill. My recommendation to people now is go for single hunts untilthe bird has solidified the whole experience and understands what is goingto happen. Then, if multiples are appropriate, have fun with them, but ifsingle kill hunts work for you, you'll see more relentless pursuit than youwill on multiples. Operant conditioning works wonders, too. HHs think a bit more than manyraptors, so you really have to be on your toes in regards to timing and whatbehavior you are trying to reinforce. If you're off a little bit, it can beconfusing to them. Also, every interaction with the hawk is a trainingsession, no matter how short it is. HHs are not as reactive as accips tooperant conditioning, but with proper thought and awareness, the methodworks just as well. I've learned over the years to read my hawk and others. HHs can get just asinsulted as an accipiter about things, but they don't show it the same way.They will internalize rather than display, and the result can be loweredperformance without an obvious resentment. But if you learn to read them,you will be able to tell when they've been insulted and what bugs them, andavoid it at all costs (or train them out of the resentment). Create a strong family group. You and the hawks are the pack. For Pam and I,it's the two of us and the two birds (adding the third one this year). Keepthings consistent and become a hunting pack. The birds love having thatsense of place. While you will be able to fly them with other HHs, you'llsee that their peak performance is when flown as "the group". Make sure theyrealize that you (and any other humans with you) are the biggest, baddestHHs in the group. You are the alpha female and they have to defer to you.This allows you to jump in on a kill and take it away without excessiveresentment. They're used to that in the pack. As long as they get some of it(an adequate amount), they're usually OK with getting "robbed" if necessaryand if done right.
The HH don't have a stigma attached, just the fool hardy falconers that feel it necessary to work hard for their game for it to be meaningful