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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30th, 2013:

Cloudy most of the day.  Which I like, my eyes are sun-sensitive to I appreciate it.  This was clean and organize day.  I got the hawks and falcons out to weather, then cleaned enclosures and organized equipment.   Hawks were flown primarily around the pool and beach area.  All four were flown for a while, but just two at a time.  Winds were low, so I let the hawks spend a lot of time out, just preening and hanging out in the trees.  After sundown, I walked around the key to the residential area.   Surely enough, across the harbor, the grackles have returned to the trees.  I stayed and watched their movements.  A group of about 50 or so circled the residences, but went back across the harbor.  The next night, I will defiantly concentrate on the residence area at dusk.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

December, 29, 2013,  Sunday

Intermittent clouds and rain.  Took time to concentrate on the pool and beach area with the hawks.  The areas were busy with guests and I wanted to make sure the hawks were there to keep the pest grackles away from the food.  I was able to get all 4 hawks flown that day and they did well.  The residential area has very few grackles.  But, I am waiting to see when this rainy spell passes to see what patterns occur.  The grackles and blackbirds seem to have moved onshore, but I have heard that they are at hanging and roosting around a gas station on the mainland.  Scouts still fly around at dusk, so we make sure that the hawks are present and in the air until after sunset.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 28, 2013:

Windy, cloudy, chance of rain all day.  I walked the entire area and key this morning to see if there were signs of birds roosting overnight.  Only a few were seen.  The winds were quite high, so I had to wait until the winds slowed before I set the hawks and falcons out to weather. I was asked to show and educate the guests about the birds at the beach area and took one of the falcons there.  Then was able to use the falcon to keep grackles moving in and taking guest food and bathing in the pool. I could not fly around the pool, there were guest that were uncomfortable with birds.   Flights started later in the day, around 4:30.   We went to the residential area and a few scout birds were circling around the area.  We stayed until dark, and could not fly the hawks, it was very windy.  Then some rains started as we returned back and put the hawks and falcons away for the night.  Hopefully this weather is passing.  The wind is now from the west and I can start daytime flights soon.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013.

It was breezy and mixed rain and clouds all day.  I took time between showers to set the hawks and falcons out at the beach to enjoy being outside.  I cleaned their enclosures and straightened up the gear. When it started raining around 1:00, I put them in their enclosures and had lunch.  Then the rains persisted off and on all afternoon.   The hawks were then loaded up to be flown at the roosting area near the residences.   We walked over and saw only a small group of  scout grackles flying about.  The grackles were not across the harbor.  I am speculating they have found a place to roost out of the rains which have persisted for days.  Such as a parking garage or other open air cover.   We flew 2 Harris hawks to make sure that their presence was still known to the grackles.  The residents appreciated us flying them.  We kept them out until dusk and placed them back in their enclosures.  On the way back it started raining.  One resident stopped us and thanked us for scaring away the grackles.  She said she can now continue her evening walks without worrying about bird droppings hitting her.  I am glad to hear that.  Rains started again and  equipment got damp from loading up.  So, it was taken up to my room to dry out overnight.  I am watching to see how the grackle roosting patterns change while this rain front moves through the next few days.  Hawks will be flown to keep the predatory presence active.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013:

Rainy all day.  Between showers, we went to the beach and set up the weathering area for the hawks with fresh water and cleaned/rain water rinsed perches.  But, rain returned and the Harris' hawks which are a desert species that get wet very easily were kept in their boxes.  We did internet supply orders (batteries, cough syrup not found in stores) and kept an eye on the weather all day.  At sunset,  we went out with the falcons on the fist to the residences to make sure that rooting grackles do not return.  We stayed until  after sunset.  To make sure they do not come over to the residences to roost.  There was very little grackle activity today due to the rain.  My husband has departed for our home in North Florida

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 25, 2013, Christmas Day.

It was windy all Christmas Eve and day My husband and I could hear the furniture and tables being blown around the porch in our room.  So, we weighted things down to keep them from blowing over the edge.  The high winds made it too unsafe for the hawks and falcons to be set out on the beach, even in their enclosures in the cabana.  So the decision was made to keep them safe in the truck and fly directly out of their hawk boxes in the evening.  We walked the key to determine the roosting areas of the grackles, and found droppings in the plants and trees where they have roosted earlier.  The vast majority of them are now across the harbor.  It was a pleasant day for us.  And were waiting for the evening flights to begin.  Beach staff told us that some grackles were coming in during meal times.   It is realized that even sitting on the beach on their perches serves as a deterrent for the grackles coming in to take food and bathe at the pool.  The grackles now recognize us, our clothing, and even our equipment and stay away.   We set out around 4:00 to start evening flight patrols.  Winds were still high but we brought our two most reliable hawks when it comes to staying close to the falconers.  We let one out at a time and kept her close.  For her safety, we did not want her to be blown across the harbor, or worse yet, in the water.  There were quite a few residents out with their families who saw us and were very interested in our work.  We explained the concept and they were thankful that we have greatly reduced the mess the grackles have made over the months.  Small flocks of grackles that we refer to as 'scouts' flew around the buildings, but flew back over the harbor when they saw that we were not moving.  We stayed after dark to make sure the grackles stayed away that evening.

 Today, (the 26th of December)  it is raining and we will have to wait for the rains to stop before we can set the hawks and falcons out.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013:

Today was a day where we were asked to concentrate flight areas on the residence area of the key nearest the harbor.  Grackles that evening were across the harbor, in the trees.   As it got darker, some started moving to the resident area to roost in the trees around the circle where people enter the residence.   We concentrated on hazing the grackles, by flying one of our most reliable hawks.  Despite the windy conditions.  After a while, the grackles got the message and moved away from that area and many moved across the harbor.  We had to be conservative, due to the strong winds likely blowing the hawk off course or even in the water.   But, we got it done. Now the winds have picked up and are very strong.  At my room, I could hear the furniture on the porch being blown around.  I closed and laid the tables on the patio and am securing the recliners too.  A very, very windy day.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 22,, 2013:

During the day, the hawks and falcons were set out to weather at the beach after my husband arrived.  We both saw the native peregrine sitting on the hurricane shutter of the adjacent residence by the hotel.  The peregrine is a male, and looks like it is in immature plumage.   The falcon sat there for at least 3 hours.  I have a 20 power monocular that I was happy to show the hotel guests and employees the peregrine that lives on the key.  I took some photos of the peregrine, while the hawks and falcons relaxed prior to their flight patrols in the evening.  My assistant arrived and we got things ready.   Grackles have now moved to the residences nearest the mainland on the key.  The hawks were directed to the area and were flown from tree to post.  The grackles were moved around and they were went to the trees along the sea wall. We had to be careful that the hawks did not fly across the harbor to the mainland, which would be a real time-consuming walk and recovery of the errant hawk(s).   The grackles did shift around and we met the manager of the residence.  She is very happy to have us here and took photos of the hawks in action.    We shall return!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013:

A close call for one of our best birds.  I was flying both around 5:00.   There were very few grackles in the area, but I wanted to see if I spot the wild peregrine again.  I let the two hawks out of their boxes. and they both flew immediately into the palm trees.   The younger one flew to a light post, but I started hearing the other one struggle.   I realized that she was stuck in the palm tree.  She had chewed on her nylon jess that I had just put on that morning.  The shredded jess threads were like the loop part of a velcro strip and was caught up in the palm leaves.  I immediately called Security at the hotel, and informed them of the danger to the hawk.   What seemed like forever to me, but was likely not even 10 minutes later,  Engineering brought a 20 foot extension ladder.   I am a poor climber and one of the hotel guests immediately went up the ladder, shook the palm leaf she was on and she came free.   She flew to a tree, was checked out, (she was ok, just shaken up) and kept in for the evening.  The residents and guests were happy to see that she was ok.  I showed them the chewed jess and the reason why it got caught in the palm leaf.   My great thanks to hotel staff and the guest who helped get the hawk back safely.

I was also told that there were quite a few grackles across the key at the parking garage by the park.  So, I brought both birds on the bell cart with the extended perches.  When I started shining the flashlight at the trees, and sending the youngest hawk up..  The grackles moved.  I then followed them with the hawk on her t post, that she rides readily.   WIth the flashlight, the t post, I followed the movement of the grackles up and down the road and the dispersed and were much fewer in number.  I called the hawk down and had another good day.   
December 21, 2013:

This  day night was an interesting one.   The grackles were much fewer in number in the morning.  Workmen from the restaurant renovation told me that they saw a bird of prey (likely the resident peregrine)  catch a bird the prior evening around 6:00.   They saw the falcon take the bird to the top of the restaurant.  I wanted to see if I could find out which species of bird (grackle or pigeon) so I was taken to the roof of the restaurant.  But, the falcon had obviously taken its prey somewhere else, no feathers found.   I concluded that at same time the hawks were flushing the grackles from the trees, the peregrine took advantage of this hunting opportunity and was successful in catching a bird.    I had thought I saw a peregrine when the hawks were trailing them.  I am glad when a wild raptor comes in  this manner and I enjoy watching the flights.

Patrols were started around 4:00.  The hawks were stationed between the hotel and office building.  Flying back and forth and up the roadways to their T posts on the cart and hawk boxes.  I no longer use the cadge for two reasons.  One, the hawks are very comfortable flying in and out of their enclosures.    I much prefer the hawks feeling and being safe in their hawk boxes.  I spotted the peregrine, eight floors down on the building I have seen him on before.   He was waiting for the grackles to come in.  He flew twice around the hotel, seeking a meal, but was unsuccessful.  I will bring my strong 20 power spotting scope so I can enjoy watching him again the coming evening.  He is definitely a male.

I was notified of the wedding occurring that evening.   Patrols were ended, birds were boxed up and we waited for the wedding ceremony to end before we packed up gear for the evening at the beach.    Am I glad there were no hawks roosting out on the key that night.  Because of the fireworks display on the water after the ceremony.  It was a spectacular one, coordinated with music and very loud.  We will see what remaining grackles there are this coming evening.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21, 2013.   Early morning hawk retrieval will be starting soon.   I hear the re-assuring bleep of the telemetry receiver that he is still there.   After a quick breakfast in my room, I will be searching for him.  I also hear very little grackle activity.   Last night was a good flight and abatement night.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The hawks were started around 5:00 when the grackles starting moving in.  They worked in tandem, following the groups of grackles and making them very nervous.  I would shine the flashlight in the trees and the grackles would leave in a whoosh of wings.  The two hawks pressured and followed the groups of grackles like a dogfight.   This is what falconers love to watch.  The grackles twisted and turned with the hawks following close behind.   Then, the grackles became much fewer in number.   Security told me that they flew to Key Biscayne.   I will listen in the morning.  BTW:  The oldest hawk came right in when she was done flying.  The male still chased until it became dark and decided to roost.  I will have another early pre-dawn day retrieving him.  
December 20, 2013:
Yesterday was a good abatement day. I weathered all of the raptors, cleaned enclosures,  The presence of the hawks all day on the grounds I feel is also a good 'territorial' establishment of the hawks being here all of the time.    Hawks started  evening flights at sundowns, around 4:00.  The grackles were very intimidated by the presence of the hawks.  They would move away from wherever the hawks were seen.  After sundown approaching darkness, the hawks would still chase the grackles in the trees, due to the lights allowing them to see.  The hawks are becoming more comfortable flying after darkness, due to the lack of owls and competing avian predators in the area.  The hawks also know that me as their falconer also protects them from harm.   The youngest and most trusting of hawks came right in to a flashlight attached to a T post.   Also with a pice of hawk food held in place with a ball bungie.  She stays very close to her falconer.  The second oldest bird  also saw this behavior and become more confident moving about in the dark.  She also came to the same T perch arrangement, then laddered down to a second on T post to be safely put to bed at dark.   This morning, I access the success of the patrols by listening to the calls of the grackles prior to departing to their daily foraging around the city.  Definitely, less noise this morning.  I will also walk the areas to see how many droppings are left behind.  An encouraging sign for the winter roost reduction.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

12/18/2013:   Errant harris hawks were retrieved by 7:45 this morning.   They were a bit reluctant to come down, so I suspect they each had a meal last night.    Today is breezy, boarding on windy, and I was concerned that they would move mainland.  So glad they did not and they are safely back in their boxes.  One advantage of this is that they definitely reduced the number of roosting grackles at the office building, very little vocalizations and noise this morning.  The other two will be on duty later today.  

12.18/2013:   Strategy:  Have the hawks presence before the grackles roost.   I put up 3 Harris' hawks in the next area prior to roosting behavior.   The grackles would see the hawks and move to the other side of the building.  As it got darker, I called in 1 Harris hawk.  Then left two out to move and chase the grackles around.   I would also shine a flashlight and the grackles would know that it meant a hawk was nearby and the would shift around.   The hawks then start to roost instead of chase grackles so I I monitored the until I was satisfied they had settled in for the night.  Two hawks have spent the night tonight.  I am up extra early to start my day and retrieve them from 'camping' out.  My room is a great location to monitor the sounds of the grackles.  I know which calls mean which activities.  From morning greeting/noise.  To predator alert when the hawks move about.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12/17/2013 Second night:  We have been able to move the roosting grackles away from the hotel and security areas, and will concentrate on moving them away from the office complex across the street.  When the hawks are put up and we use the flashlights to guide the hawks around, the grackles know of the danger and rush to the next area to be away from the hawks.   I flew 3 of the four hawks, due to the one having a kill yesterday. One thing nice I heard from an employee at the hotel, she did not have any droppings on her car at the end of the shift.  That is good news.   Now to keep the pressure on the roost to move them out.  Despite my head cold that has made me weary.  The staff at the hotel and key are happy to see me and I am glad to get the hawks in the air doing what they do best.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Grackles (the larger boat tailed species) are now back for their winter roost.  Started flying the 4 Harris hawks this afternoon, earlier than planned, just after 4:00.  The grackles did not know what to do about the situation, since the hawks were not deterred by their mobbing.  When a hawk showed foraging behavior  (aggressive, determined flying) the grackles shifted in masse; dodging the hawks who were making them nervously move about.  One was caught by the oldest hawk who is now 24.  She brought the grackle to the ground.  She was retrieved and was put away to enjoy her hard earned meal.  Two others were flown, then one decided to spend the night out camping.  I can tell where he is by the telemetry signal I am receiving.  I will get up pre-down to get him back down to start another day.
Score:  Baywings  -  1.
Grackles:  0.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013,   The grackles have returned, this is now a winter roost situation.  They arrived mid-fall and I am starting the abatement treatments this evening.   They are roosting in the same areas as last year.   I arrived yesterday, (400 mile trip from my house).  Today I will set up the weathering area and get everything ready this evening's first treatment.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Post Abatement

I have returned from Miami and have been home a week.  But, not settling down.  Getting new toy hauler ready for the road with packing and the old camper emptied, it is just like moving.  All of the stuff you accumulate over the years comes back right in your face.  I will not frequent thrift stores, my biggest weakness in accumulating too much stuff I don't need.  I have reduced my clothes (my biggest part of the stuff by about 80% and kitchen by about 30%.
I have also sent my post abatement survey and thank you via email to the client.  I hope and am always curious as to how the pest bird behavior is altered after the hawks are gone.  Now off for our summer tour.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday, April 18th, 2013, warm, mixed sun and clouds.    Took birds on walking and both flight patrols.  Went to the playground with walking patrols to assess further the nesting bird situation.   A few grackles nesting are in the area.    I took both falcons on separate patrols   Then the hawks came out for evening patrols.  Flew 2 Harris hawks for evening patrols.   The pool area has fewer birds than ever each evening.   Then wrapped things up for the night.
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013:  Sun/clouds mixed.   Got the hawks down that morning, did some walking patrols, then per request of the management was asked to conduct flight patrols at the play field.   The nesting birds dive a passers by and is a nuisance to them.  I then  concentrated on the large play/soccer field at one end of the island.  Flew 2 Harris hawks from T post to T post to deter the birds. The area was busy with families, as it is a green space for the residents here.  The kids of course loved seeing the hawks.  I had to be careful with where the hawks flew.   When the play area got really busy, It was decided  that I conclude the flight patrols for the evening.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday April 17, 2013:  Warm, not as humid, mixed clouds.  Got up at 5:00 a.m.  to get the hawks that had stayed out all night.   Both had made kills.   The telemetry was working just fine, I had just put in fresh batteries in the transmitters on the prior day.   I first put their transport boxes on a bell cart.  I also used a bungee to secure the boxes, so they do not bounce when being rolled around.  Then rolled it out to where one was by the seawall at the park adjacent to the beach.  I again used the T posts, especially that 16 foot long one, garnished with a piece of food.  She was still reluctant, flew back and forth from the T post to the tree.   So a whole frozen quail was placed in her box to entice her down.  I must let her eat the entire quail as a reward.  She is my best hawk, all business, no affection.   The second one was in the banyon tree at the exit.  This is a favorite place for them to hang out when being flown.   He was enticed with a whole frozen day old chick and came down readily off the long T post.  I then set them out, cleaned the enclosures and cabana area.
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013:   Started with setting out hawks an cleaning enclosures.  Did walking patrols around entire key.  Pest birds around pool were few.  Then evening flight patrols started.   Two hawks are still out camping and an early day will start to retrieve them.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013: Cloudy, rainy, humid, low 80's.    Got up extra early and was delayed getting the hawks out due to the event from yesterday at the beach.  Crews were moving equipment out so did not start setting up until around 10:00.   Sat hawks out to clean enclosures and the general area.   Hawks got a good rain shower.  Then afternoon patrols were rain delayed as well.    

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bath Time:   Today started with a bath with all of the birds, then walking patrols started.   Flying patrols were cancelled, due to the generators producing fumes for the event at the beach.  But, grackles were very few today in the pool or beach area.
Saturday, April 13th, 2013:  Cloudy, low 80's humid, impending storms.  Placed hawks in boxes in cabana, and am now waiting form the storms to appear and pass.  Evening patrols will start after the rains.  
Saturday, April 14th, 2013:  Cloudy, rain predicted during the day.  Hawks were kept in enclosures until after the rains passed.   Then evening patrols started.   Hawks were flown around park area and were again very responsive and worked together as a team to deter the scolding grackles.   They were not independent but kept within site and sound of each other.   When the sun set, the hawks flew back to the cabana where their enclosures to be put to bed.  I followed them and they gladly went to bed before dark.  It is great to have them working in such coordination and knowing their routines.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013:   Warm, humid, mixed clouds and sun, low 80's. Walked out with the birds setting up. Got the normal diving/scolding from the grackles by the exit from the hotel entrance.   Started the day early with setting the hawks out and cleaning the enclosures, and general cleaning.   Got them out for a few hours, then did walking patrols.  Birds at pool and beach are lower in number.  Then after 5:00 the evening patrols and flights started.  Hawks worked in harmony.  One would fly and land in the area by the banyon.  She would be mobbed and the others would run 'interference' and keep the grackles from mobbing her.  Watching the coordination of the hawks work in harmony was something to see.   They then followed to the beach are and flew right back into their sleeping boxes right after sunset.  Spoke with a few guests about the purpose of the presence of the birds.  Photos to follow.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Some Videos and photos:  
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013:  Warm, low 80's humid and mixed sun and clouds.  Hawks were set out and concentrated on strolling patrols until the evening.  Then evening patrols and flight patrols were started.   Hawks have their favorite spots to fly and the grackles know that.  The hawks single out certain trees and posts and the grackles are mobbing, but the hawks move around, adjusting their positions.   Then darkness started to come and the hawks flew straight back to their boxes for the evening.   A good day.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday April 8th, 2013.  Got hawks out, cleaned enclosure and general maintenance.   Then started flying hawks around pool and patio, plus beach area.   The grackles now know me and mob me as I walk past them, with out without the hawks.  Then I let one hawk up.  She landed in the middle of the tree in the adjacent park.  I looked and saw a pigeon on the ground.  She immediately went for it.  I was surprised, for this hawk seems to have diminished hunting skill/desire.  I immediately grabbed hawk and pigeon, for there were people in the park.   Said a hurried sorry and took both back to the holding area.   I then noted that the pigeon is emaciated and very ill.  I did NOT let the hawk start feeding on it, due to the risk of disease.  I dispatched the pigeon, wrapped it up and disposed of it.  Then evening flights started, flew until sundown at the walkway by the parking garage.  Security did a photo op session at the gatehouse.  And was finished for the day.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sunday, April 7th 2013:   Warm, Mixed Clouds, Sun,  and low 80's    Did morning patrols around pool and Sunday brunch area.    Winds got stronger and hawks kept on heading to area by exit to hotel and Banyon tree.  The grackles were very noisy  and mobbing the hawk and then the winds got stronger.  Today there was a large children's party in the park.  Flights were minimized during the day after that.  Then evening patrols were started at the walkway at the parking garage.  I got a call from Security that a baby bird had been found by some residents that had fallen from the nest.  I met with the residents and saw it was a fledgling green heron.  They saw the bird fall from the nest behind the office building across the street.   They could not reach the nest to get it back in.  The extra long 16 foot T post came in handy again.   Security kindly got the pole for me while we walked to the nest area, where there was also a sibling in the nest.   The baby bird was placed on the post  by security and it was lifted back to it's nest that evening.   A good day to help a baby bird thrive and survive.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saturday, April 6th, 2013:   Started as a beautiful, cool morning, with few clouds.   Got the hawks out to weather for a couple of hours before flights started.   Flew 2 hawks in the pool area, where the local grackles started harassing them.  This kept the grackles away from guests at both the pool and beach areas.   The hawks were busy chasing the taunting grackles in the trees, the grackles were above the hawks.  Then, one hawk connected with a grackle.   She ate her meal in the tree and hung around all day.  Later in the day, hawks were all put up in the trees.  The grackles were then overwhelmed with all hawks in the area.  One could see how the hawks work together as a team.   I then started to call the hawks down that evening and realized that a second hawk had also caught a grackle.   She was a bit difficult to get down, but eventually did.  Went to see about the roosting grackle situation, but saw very few grackles.  Will start out early next morning to see the early morning grackle situation.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Friday, April 5th, 2013:   Rain threatening, so all areas were quiet.  Flew the Harris hawks for about 2 hours prior to the rains.  Then the rains started and I kept them in their enclosures.   As I was putting the all of them away for the evening.  I happen to see the wild peregrine dive at a bird over the water just beyond the seawall at the beach area.  Falconers' luck or maybe I just have my eyes in the sky all of the time.  Photos from the area will be posted later when I figure out how to retrieve them. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013:  Humid, warm to hot and breezy, cloudy.  It was cloudy nearly all day. I set out the hawks and cleaned their enclosures  Few guests were outside at the pool area until late lunch, early dinner.  And patrols were not until later in the day.  I took a walk around the Key to see the things in the daylight.  Since my prior walks were after dark, patrolling for birds or looking for wayward hawks.   Then I flew the Harris hawks back and concentrated around the pool area.   Around 5:00 a tornado watch was posted, I looked at the radar and decided to put the birds up for their safety in the truck.   An early evening,  Got some sleep at least 8 hours for a change.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wednesday, April 3rd 2013:  Warm, low 80's humid.  Partly Cloudy.  Light/moderate winds.

Got the hawks out to weather and started with Tobasco by the pool.  She is my best hawk, but all business.  She landed in the tree above the wall at the pool area.  She chased around any of the grackles that harassed her.  And this seemed to work.  The other grackles came in to tease her rather than spend time looking for food form guests.   But, just as I was going to lunch, I saw the strategy of the grackles.  They ONLY take the brown sugar packets, not the artificial stuff and not white sugar.  They put the packet in the edge of the water in the pool to soften the cover, then eat the contents.  Then flew all of the others in the evening patrols on the walkway.  Back and forth.  I shifted from one hawk to the other, alternating flying them.  Tobasco was getting full, and reluctant, so her sleeping crate was  brought in.  Plus a second hawk (Mercedes) to get the competition factor started.  Tobasco, then flew to a T post then right into her crate for the evening.   

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tuesday, April 2nd 2013:  Set birds out, cleaned enclosures and straightened up the area after yesterdays rain.   I started flight patrols at lunch time around the pool area.  I flew 2 different hawks.  When I put up a second bird, Immediately I heard screeching by the pool.  I rushed over, realizing the hawk had grabbed a grackle, not what I wanted.  The grackle got away and the rest of the grackles were screeching at the hawk.  Not what I wanted to have in the daytime, especially in front of guests.  The hawk was called down and I switched to the other one.    I asked pool staff if I could walk straight through the pool dining area with the birds to deter the grackles.  I felt it depended on the response of the guests.  Some like it some are uncomfortable, I will let their opinion determine what I do.  Evening patrols started at 6:30 after documenting with photos some of the abatement activities.  I wanted to have some good photos of the birds in action, and my newly modified cage for carrying them.  There are still some grackles concentrated in areas, so I flew there, but concentrated on the walkway by the parking garage.  The grackles can see the hawks in the trees from all problem areas, and it is highly discrete.  Yesterday, when down near the park by the second circle.  The hawks just draw a lot of attention, especially from kids. I am more comfortable being less conspicuous with fewer grackles in the area.  Especially if the hawk connects with a grackle.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 1st, 2013.  Day started with rainy weather coming in.  I cleaned, and got the hawks out to enjoy the morning.  Then weather started to come in and I put them up.   Rain lasted for about 2 hours then cleared in the late after noon.   I then started some patrols around the pool area, but there were few guests, hence little food attraction for the pest grackles.    The cadge was further modified with pick resistant perch surfaces to prevent the padding from being shredded.  Evening patrols started around the key started at 6:30.  A few grackles were near the second circle and the hawks were flown back and forth to establish the hunting territory.   Hawks were out until 8:00. p.m.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

A good day, lovely weather, not too hot and quite busy.  I set out the birds in the morning, then started flight and foot patrols for birds around the pool areas.   Then later in the afternoon, I hear alarm cries from the hawks while I was speaking with some hotel guests.  The hawks were watching a kite being flown in the part that was shaped like a bird.  It had an imprint of a parrot on it but the shape was the issue. The peregrine falcon was making her intruder/alarm call and she needed to be put away to calm down, despite my re-assurances.    Then the kite got stuck in a tree.  I walked over with one of my telescoping poles and got it out of the tree for the residents.   The hawks I think the falcons then realized it was fake.  But the wild peregrine came in to check out what was in her territory, she stooped (dove)  the kite without connecting, apparently realized it was not real and moved on to St. Louis to land.

Evening patrols started at 6:30.   With one to two Harris hawks at a time.  The walkway by the parking garage is an excellent place to start.  The hawks get high in the trees, and can scan both the bridge and the first and second circles.  Also, they are visible by the roosting grackles.  Which I am happy to say are less and less.  I scanned for droppings from overnight roosting, and they are far fewer in numbers.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 30th, 2013:  Past two days have been lovely, mid-70's with a light breeze.   Cleaned bird boxes and did tome equipment modifications, including placing PVC pipes in places around the key to be able  to set up T posts where we fly the birds.  Changed the telemetry to fresh batteries.   Did patrols on foot and flight patrols at pool/beach area during the day.  Mercedes is perfect for this, she flies back and forth, keeping birds at the pool/beach away from guest food.

Evening patrols included flying birds around 6:30 to discourage the blackbirds from coming in to roost. This strategy seems to be working.  Grackles are greatly diminished in numbers.  I patrol with the hawks on the cadge and periodically fly the back and forth to establish a territory that the blackbirds will see.   Blackbirds, especially crows and other flocking, especially crows species send scouts to see the potential area.  When there are hawks in the area, they move on.

I also spotted a bait box for rodent poison on the key.  I would much rather see the use of barn owl boxes instead for rodent control.  Rat poison is a terrible way to take care of rodents.  For, the risk of secondary poisoning to our allies, the owls at night and the hawks and falcons during the day.  Rodents when poisoned seek water sources, especially in the daytime.  The ill rodent then attracts the raptors, who then die and slow and painful death from internal bleeding.  A facebook page entitled RATS (Raptors are the Solution) started in the San Francisco Bay area is a great program, to encourage the installation of raptor nest boxes, (kestrels, owls, and hawk friendly nesting platform and trees).  A barn owl will take 23 mice in a 1/2 hour period during nesting season, far more effective than the mis-guided use of cats, (which are an introduced species and highly destructive to our native birds and small wildlife)  and a totally natural solution, using native species.  My veterinarian told me that the nest boxes now used in the sugar cane fields in S. Florida have really made a dent in the pest rodent populations there.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013:   Started the day with the birds sitting out with flight and walking patrols.   The beach area was busy and I had quite a few guests come over to see the birds and inquire about their purpose as pest control.  One guest was a father and son where the son is very interested in sustainable methods of pest control and other environmental issues.  They came over several times.  I started the patrols earlier flying between 6:00 and 6:30.  This seems to be working, the blackbirds see the presence of the hawks and are greatly reduced in numbers.  I flew all of the hawks that evening.  Then I put up Tobasco, my best hawk.  Then, the winds picked up and she was flying around, but getting wind-blown.   As darkness approached.  She started sitting on the office building across the street from the hotel.  I was concerned about her being blown across the water to downtown so I kept an close eye on her through the telemetry signal to make sure she had settled in.   Friday morning, I went out just at sunrise and she was still on the office building.  She was reluctant to come down. Tobasco made a pass at the pigeons on the office building but did not connect with one.   I had already brought up her sleeping crate and she still was reluctant.  So i brought over Mercedes, the  hawk that stays so close to me.   After about 8:00-9:00 Mercedes flew into Tobasco's box and Tobasco finally decided to come in.  I called her to a large portion of food.  She fed on her meal and is now safely tucked away in her box.   Now, to set up for another day.   

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013:   Cool, Sunny, mid-70's   Lovely weather.   When I was setting up I was informed of some birds flying in the 4 level garage.  Some thought they were hawks.  But, they are nightjars, an insect eating bird.  They were disoriented and could not get out.  So I called the wildlife center at the Museum of Science in Miami and they referred me to Pelican Island.  I let Security know and the folks came out and safely removed the nightjars.  Then set up and  Flew the hawks during the day to deter the birds from the pool area.  Especially during busy times when guests are dining outside. Then the night patrols started a bit earlier, to see if the presence of the hawk would discourage roosting activity.   I saw positive results, very few birds gathered at the area, but some were pushed to the next condo on the key.  So, I will concentrate on the hotel tonight for most of the flights and abatement work.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013:    A wonderful, dry cooler day in Miami.  I set the birds out and greeted guests who were intrigued by the concept of bird control with hawks.  One couple from Oxford, England was quite familiar with the method, since it is used extensively in the UK and Europe.  The birds were both on fist and flight patrols.  It was a dry day, warm in the sun, cool in the shade, temps in the 70's.  During the early evening, I noted activity at the Banyon tree by St. Louis at the exit circle.  I saw a larger bird, the size of a coopers hawk, being harassed by the mockingbirds.  I thought initially it was a Cooper's hawk.  But spotting it again after dark, I saw that it is a type of NightJar.  An insect eating bird that flies like a hawk.  Security had released it from being trapped in the garage area of the hotel.   Evening flight patrols were concentrated at the second circle, per request of Brickell security.  2 hawks were put up.  One, Tobasco seemed pre-occupied with things other than me after I put her up.  The other, Pepper, is very focused on me and is practically a shadow.  Pepper came down right away after flying around, but Tobasco flew, caught a a bird and ate it in the tree right at nightall.  She had a meal and did not come down until abut 7:15 the next morning from the same tree I saw her the night before.  But, she is safe and we start another day.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday, March 25th, 2013.   A calm day.  I got the birds out, cleaned boxes, straightened out the area and went on both fist and flight patrols during the day.  It was a quiet day, a handful of grackles were visiting the pool area, and I flew Mercedes during the day on patrols.  She likes the pool railing to sit on, as well as the wall at the back gate.  Two good places to deter birds.   She is a naive hawk and is a good one for such work.   I saw some local wildlife, the dolphins, the resident iguanas.  There is a resident peregrine falcon in the area.  I saw it soaring the previous evening around St. Louis.  At 6:00 evening abatement patrols stared.   Just as the staging set up.  I looked up and saw the wild peregrine fly right over the parking garage with a kill (likely a pigeon) in her feet, heading towards St. Louis.  The grackles are getting later in the day arriving, so I let the hawks up just before 7:00.  I flew 2 hawks to keep a close eye on the birds.  One hawk stays with me well, the other is a bit more aloof and she had moved to the back garage across the street., it took me some time to find her later in the evening, using the telemetry receiver.   The second one had moved away and I had some trouble locating her. She had moved around the office building across the street and was roosting for the night.  As I was getting her down.  We moved a lot of birds out of the trees in the area.  So that will be a new part of our route in the evening.   To locate her, transmitters were removed from the remaining three, I then could locate her by the transmitter.  She had settled in to roost in a tree  and the long pole 16 foot pole came in handy again.  She was carefully lowered down to be safely tucked away in her sleeping crate for the evening.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013.  Hot, but being very windy helped with the heat of the day.  I did walking patrols with both falcons during the day.  Later when the winds slowed, I put Mercedes up to deter bathing at the pool by the grackles.  Then I got everything ready for the evening grackle roost flights.  I flew all 4 hawks because the traffic was lower and started at 6:30.  The hawks make their rounds and one again caught a bird in the tree and started feeding.  I put the others up and then concentrated on getting the hawk down.  The hawk started to roost after and I used one T post to try to get him down.  Security at the gate helped me immensely.  They watched the birds while I got the long 16 foot t post ready.  Maurico took me over to the security tool shed to put a perch on the top T post.  Thankfully, it was long enough.  Maurico held it, the hawk stepped up to the post.  Slowly, the post was lowered to the post I was holding.  Then secured the hawk by the feet and held him until I could secure the leash.  I was so thankful.  I did not want the hawk to end up in downtown Miami over the night.  With the bright city lights at night, the hawk see well enough to move anywhere.  Then, everyone was put away safely and I could sleep that night.   We start again tomorrow.   

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Today was the weather that I remember when I was in Miami for the Italian Renaissance Festival n Vizcaya.    Hot, sunny, and dripping with humidity.  Not a bother to the Harris hawks, they live in humid areas in Louisiana,  Texas and Central and South America.  

The day started very early (4:20 a.m.)  with a courteous call from the front desk that the local police needed to see my permits.   They were investigating another incident (sadly, a fatal hit and run) on the key.  looked at a car that fit the description of the suspect car in the parking garage.  The car turned out to not be the one they were looking for.   They spotted the kennels in the truck and inquired further.  After verifying my permits, Florida FWC also came out that morning to check the housing of the birds.  I showed them the kennels and the weathering area where the birds stay when not flying.  And checked the paperwork on the hawks.  All passed just fine.  So, my day was delayed, but the nuisance birds were fewer.  A handful around the dining areas, beach and pool.  I went on patrol with a falcon on the glove, and the nuisance birds cleared out when they saw us.  I put up a hawk later in the day near the pool.  Birds were getting interested in taking  bath.  So one hawk, was on sentry duty during that time.  Birds then moved out of the area.  Then we waited for the roosting event each evening.  I put up two hawks rather than three, one was a bit over weight so it was not flying today.  They did well, chasing the birds all over the area around the hotel.  Across the street is a bigger challenge.  The birds roost in some very dense trees.  Around the hotel and park area next to the beach, the trees are thinned out at the canopy to allow a view of the water.  I feel that the dense foliage of the roosting trees could also use thinning to discourage roosting.  The tree by the bridge, and across the street.  all have very dense, un thinned branches and leaves.  I also prefer the more open look of trees, I like to see the branches as well as the leaves.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Today started rather slowly. I set the birds out, cleaned their enclosures, just did some cleaning and equipment maintenance at the cabana.   Birds were scarcer today.   Cooler, (mid 70's) windy and cloudy all day with short, light rain showers.  I took the hawks on two patrols during lunch and afternoon.   The wild birds saw us and moved on.  I am hearing from the staff that the birds are greatly reduced in number.  I waited for the evening roosting to start and put up 3 Harris hawks.  They first watched the birds come flocking in to the trees.  Hawks then took off, one on the top of the roof, one in the tree, one across the street.  I watched them and listened for their bells.  I kept one behind, she has a tendency to land in unsafe places, such as roadways and such.   So she was kept hooded on the cadge.  I walked across the street and the 3 were quite seriously hazing the birds.  Whenever a hawk would land in the tree, the birds moved out quickly.  Then, I noticed one staying on a branch, I then used my flashlight and saw that he was eating something.  He had caught a bird,  good, I thought.  As darkness increases, they flew around chasing the birds, my oldest had decided it was dark enough and landed beside me.  She was hooded and placed on the cadge.   The other one and the one in the tree with it's meal were still out in the dark. I attempted to call one down and a woman was on the sidewalk with her small dog.  Hawks give their dog/intruder warning and I asked the woman to leave with the dog.  I told her that the dog upsets the birds and they will not come down with it there.  She would not comply with several requests (about 5) and gate security took care of it.  She finally left while I went over to retrieve the hawks.  She stated that she was a resident of the area and did not like what the hawks were doing.  All I wanted was the dog to leave.  Security was very supportive, helpful, (held the T post until I got the cadge in the area) and I will let them handle explaining what is happening, but I do need to protect the birds from potential harm from any dogs.  That is my responsibility as a falconer.   But the birds are safe in their sleeping kennels, and one is very happy with a fresh meal.  They all did exceptionally well tonight. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A new challenge here: Thousands of grackles (boat tailed and common) are coming it at dusk to roost in the beautiful trees and building around the square and bridges leading to the keys in downtown Miami.  The greenery and trees are a beautiful addition, but the birds also find it appealing for safe roosting.  The peak of this problem is in the winter months, where these birds roost together to keep warm.  There is also a problem of the same birds stealing food from customers dining outside.  And bathing in the swimming pools.  Today, there was an afternoon patrol with a pair of Harris' hawks.  They followed well, but really likes the big banyon trees in the area.  I then brought all four hawks down to a staging area at the side of the hotel, on a cadge, waiting for the birds to start flocking in.  Again I was patient to let the hawks learn the new area and see that they are to chase the birds.  Two hawks paired up and chased the birds around.  Whenever they landed in a tree, about 90% of the birds moved on.  My survey of the area after dark, showed fewer no roosting birds in the area I put the most pressure on, and they were primarily across the street.  We will put pressure on them each evening to see how each patrol drives more birds away.

As a falconer, we see things in nature that many miss.  A dove flew across the street while the Harris' hawks were in a tree.  She started waiving her wings, I initially thought she was taking a dust bath in the road.  The Harris hawks could not resist the fluttering wings and gave chase.  The clever dove was feigning injury to draw the hawks away from her nesting area.   It worked and I thought that only killdeer do a false injury to draw predators away from their ground nests.

Photos coming later