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Falconry Part II: Caring for Nestlings
Fri May 26, 2006 08:24 (XFF:

Demetri let everyone run through the exercises of getting the birds to come when called and saw that most achieved success after only a few tries, though it was hardly surprising. She'd chosen birds with good temperaments and who were well trained enough that they wouldn't get picky with their falconer. They're good birds, she thought proudly. "All right, I'd like for all of you to come with me a moment, we're going to put the falcons back in the mews and then move on from here, working with the nestlings that we have housed here at the White Tower." The men and woman followed after her, many walking comically slow as if afraid to disrupt the bird on their hand, making Demetri's mouth curve slightly in a smile. At least they were either properly respectful or afraid of what Demetri had cautioned them regarding.

"The gyrfalcons go over here near the door, the peregrines near the back and the Merlynns to the left. Place each of the birds carefully in their cages and let them step off your hand and on to their perch. They know their cages and will go in willingly." A couple of the prairies in the mews screeched at the commotion in irritation while the Accepted and Trainess moved quietly through the hay-scented aviary. "All right you can take your gloves off for now and follow me through this passage." Demetri led the small group through a narrow "corridor" where the nestlings were held. The air grew considerably warmer and drier as they finally stepped into the mews set aside for nests, the temperature maintained by a clever ter'angreal that would heat the air and remove moisture.

There were two clutches of eggs on the right side of the wall and soft peeps and squawks came from the two clutches of nestlings that had been born only a week before. "Most raptors or other flying birds are born 'altricial' birds, meaning their eyes are closed when they are born and are generally without any feather or down. Animals such as geese and ducks are considered 'precocial' birds in that they're born with their eyes open and are covered in down. Follow me here and I'm going to show you the different clutches."

"Here you'll see the two clutches eggs of a peregrine falcons. When the nestlings are born, they'll grow a soft white down and can be considered quite ugly from when they grow up." The men and women laughed slightly. "Over here is a red tail clutch, as you can see there are only two nestlings here—this is typical of this species, in general around three eggs is average and only two hatch, this one fortunately hatched both of the eggs and we didn't lose any." She moved them forward. "This is a hawk that I haven't shown you because we've just begun breeding the, but the Kuyper's Hawk is a nest that produces around four to six eggs in this next, we were fortunate to get five out of the clutch. As you can see, the Kuyper's are born with golden-yellow eyes with tawny and light brown feathers. They end up darkening to a deep brown, almost black when they mature and their eyes turn a color of burnt orange, making them unmistakable in appearance."

The five birds looked up at them and began squawking and she smiled to the group. "It's obviously lunch time." As if the redtails didn't want to be left out, their own screeching of hungry desire picked up and added to the cacophony of noise as seven birds demanded food and they wanted it now. "Over there you'll find a box of meat that we feed to them, Riani Aethan'Tar, would you be so kind as to bring that box?"

The woman blinked and then hustled across the room to a small wooden box that had been chilled slightly to preserve the meat. Throwing open the lid on the box, Demetri stuck her hand in and pulled out a sliver of meat that was no larger than her fingernail. "They require small bits of meat roughly every few hours, and as you have probably noticed, a warm and dry atmosphere that would emulate that of a mother hen—or female hawk—keeping her nestlings warm." Turning to one of the Kuyper's Hawks, she dangled the meat above the head of one of the nestlings and it titled its head back and spread its beak wide so that she could drop the meat into its mouth.

"And just like that, the nestling is fed." She replied. "Each of you spread out and take a bird. Each of them should get four pieces of meat each and no more. We try to keep these birds healthy, not fat and overweight." She said with friendly censure. "Once the nestlings are fed, you're welcome to pick them up and hold them and get a feel for how small and fragile they are. Don't worry, their claws will be no sharper than that of a cat's and their beaks are still somewhat soft. They can't hurt you."

One of the Trainees looked up in surprise and asked, "But won't the mother abandon the bird if we touch it?"

Shaking her head, "No, that's a myth. In fact, we handle these birds as often as possible in order to make them comfortable with humans and our touch. Many times we're on hand when the eggs are physically hatching, being the first thing they come in contact with outside the egg. The hens remain on hand to care for the nestlings with their own presence and warmth at night, but we do as much as we can with them to accustom them to us." She gestures. "Now go ahead and feed the birds and feel free to pick them up. Once fed they'll be relatively sated and probably feel like dead weight, but that just means they're happy."

OOC: Another 400 word minimum on feeding the nestlings and then your character's reactions to holding the birds. Feel free to go out and search the web for pictures of Cooper's Hawk and Red-tail hawk nestling pictures to get a better idea on what they look like, how big they'd be and that sort of thing. =) The hunting party and final part will leave on June 1st, so get posting! This lesson is now closed to newcomers! Sorry!

  • Falconry Part I: Train the TrainerGeneral Demetri da'Faile Sedai, Green Ajah, Sun May 21 15:18
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    • Starkly Feathered ContrastMajor Locke Lemain, Dedicated, Fri May 26 10:53
      Locke felt a small twinge of amusement pass through him, at the idea of anyone having small animals or children stowed away somewhere. What an unlucky day for someone who kept a friendly pet rat... more
    • Falconry Part II: Caring for Nestlings — General Demetri da'Faile Sedai, Green Ajah, Fri May 26 08:24
      • A TwistMajor Locke Lemain, Dedicated, Sun Jun 4 16:12
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      • Falconry Part III: Going HuntingGeneral Demetri da'Faile Sedai, Green Ajah, Thu Jun 1 06:11
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        • NosediveMajor Locke Lemain, Dedicated, Fri Jun 9 20:53
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      • NestlingsAccepted Celeste Illharess, Fri May 26 18:55
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      • Re: Falconry Part II: Caring for NestlingsRiani Aethan'Tar, Fri May 26 12:11
        It was warm and dry, and Riani swallowed a yawn. Light, but she was tired! Or not tired, really, merely a bit…unaccustomed…to the heat and dryness combined with the strong smell of bird. It wasn’t... more
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    • Basic techniqueAccepted Celeste Illharess, Wed May 24 03:40
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