On Pancake day this year I collected my very own Harris Hawk. After over 30 years of waiting I finally got a Hawk of my own – so very exciting and nerve racking all at the same time! I love my owls and always will, but a Harris Hawk is a completely different bird all together. Much more like a working dog in the way a relationship can be forged – becoming partners in nature. As a child I dreamt of this day.
She arrived angry and disgruntled – her previous aviary had it’s roof blown off by the storm Imogen 2 days before, and with her owners moving soon they did not want to rebuild so put her up for sale. She had only been with them for a few months and had flown free just a couple of times, hunting but not caught anything yet.
Still a young bird, hatched in 2014 at the end of June, she had not been trained or flown as much as she could have been so it was going to be up to me to bring her ‘in to her own’. I had briefly worked with her early last summer and I hoped she may remember me as the person who had encouraged her to fly to the glove for food, and on a creance too. However with her strong feet and attitude I really wasn’t sure if she did, or ever would!
She needed a name – Birdy was all she had been called before. After searching through my usual Google pages of goddess names and the like I chose Chaya – meaning Full of Life in Hebrew ,with similar words in Gaelic meaning hawk like, and in Mexican meaning life giving. A good strong name for a beautiful, strong female Harris Hawk.
She showed good spirit [or temper!] and was very keen for food so I quickly got her flying in the field on a creance [long 30 metre leash] while we got to know each other.
Chaya loves playing in trees and chasing squirrels, though still hasn’t caught one yet. She is getting used to the wind too, after the storm she really did seem quite unnerved by the wind, especially strong gusts, but with regular flying she is getting stronger and more confident by the day. We go out every day possible, wind or rain as long as it is not too rough!
Chaya loves company, Harris Hawks are very social creatures, so she is by my side most of the day – watching me tend my parking area, visiting friends or on her bow perch in my garden as I type my blogs.
She will, hopefully, live to the age of about twenty, and I look forward to our adventures together. She is now flying free every day and has started preening my hair [which needs it after our walks]. I have found a good friend.