Here’s a picture from May 6th showing Shelby, our male Harris’s hawk, perched on the glove of Brian Baer. Brian is a collegue of mine at the Devolab at Michigan State University.
We took Rusty and Shelby out for a bit of a walk in the backyard as the last hawkwalk before putting them up for the molt. Each year, our birds shed old feathers and grow new plumage. This is a metabolically demanding process, and it is easier simply to keep their weight high during this period. Since much of the responsiveness of raptors to their falconer is due to food motivation, it’s not advisable to free-fly a hawk significantly over “flying weight”. It’s not that they have any trouble getting around, it’s just that they don’t have much motivation to come back, at least not on our schedule.
We’ll be looking to bring their weight back down at the end of summer to prepare for the fall hunting season.