Loose Harris’s Hawk in the UK

An article talks about a falconer’s Harris’s hawk that got loose in the vicinity of the Lavender Pond Nature Reserve in the United Kingdom. It apparently interacted with people on the grounds of the reserve, going so far as to eat peanuts being tossed to squirrels. Why it wasn’t simply grabbing the squirrels and eating them, I have no idea, save that captive-bred HHs don’t always do what seems reasonable. The last sentence says that the falconer returned a few days later to get his bird.

There’s a picture that ran with the story. It shows a HH in a tree. One can clearly see that it has jesses on. What’s less clear is that toward the bottom of the frame, it looks like the jesses come together and may be connected by a piece of metal, which here in the USA would likely be some type of clip or swivel, used to go between the jesses and a leash of some sort. The article is not clear about whether the picture is a stock photo or whether it is a picture of the peregrinating HH herself. However, a loose HH with jesses somehow tied together is in grave danger of getting that loop entangled on some projecting object and getting stuck in place. That usually means starvation or becoming the prey of some other predator. Raptors tend not to be vocal when in compromised condition, and they also tend to blend into foliage, so if they get stuck somewhere, they aren’t likely to respond to calls and will be tough to see. So if you see a bird of prey with looped jesses, the situation is serious. Calling your relevant wildlife officials wherever you are is a good first step.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.