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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Back home in Live Oak

 Back Home in Live Oak.  Got the crib set up and said hello to the hawks owls and Macaw.   She did the baby parrot call and wing flick when she saw me.  Indicating she was hurt.   They are so intelligent.  The crib is set up and I will get some no-tip food and water dishes for her.  Photos to follow.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Final Day, October 19, 2014

Beautiful, warm, sunny, lowered humidity.  Hawks were placed in the Cabana before sunrise.  I then go ready to work at the restaurant and beach areas.   At the restaurant steps, I saw a small all black kitten (estimated age about 12 weeks) start walking out of the shrubbery on the side of the stairs on the bay-walk to the restaurant.  I had heard that there was a second cat/kitten on the spotted grounds around the hotel. I even saw a cat by the hotel exit walkway last week.  I assumed it was the community cat and did not think to much of it then.  I reached for the kitten but it ducked into the shrubs by the stairs.  A closer look with my flashlight showed that there are open areas and tunnels under the stairs, and the kitten can easily hide there  I also saw some discarded trash (water bottles and plastic cups).  But I also saw two containers, an aluminum bake pan type container and a sealed top (rubbermaid) type container.  I can only conclude that someone is secretly feeding the kitten.  I took photos of the area where the kitten was seen (3rd step down from top)  and reported it to security.  I showed them the area where I saw the kitten and the containers likely are used to give it food and water. They asked me what to do about it.  I answered that I do not make that decision, it is up to the hotel and the island association.
There was a big wedding was last night at the beach and pool area.    It was less busy at the restaurant today, I stayed until lunch at the restaurant, but the beach and pool had guests out all day.    I kept one hawk up while the others took a break bathing and preening.  She stayed around in the park.  I also kept the T posts extended.  I think it gives a 'signal' to the pest birds that the hawks are still around.  Grackle activity was lower today.  It was a beautiful, sunny, and many guests are out on the beach.  There is a late rush of guests and I am still on call if the grackles show up and become a problem with the food.   Otherwise, the island is greatly reduced in grackle numbers.  I've been keeping an ear out to hear of excessive activity of grackles and I am happy to say that they are down over 95% in numbers in the evening roost, practically non-existent at this time.  This is the first wave of migration of grackles from up north.   When the cold fronts get more severe, I anticipate possibly a second round of grackles moving into the area in late fall/early winter.  We will see.   As in the past, the hotel staff has been more than cooperative  and helpful in working with me and the special needs of the birds.  I thank them greatly for making me comfortable, rested, and able to do my work more efficiently.  I will send a note and photos of the macaw as she gets settled in her crib.  Thank you again.  

Great day for another wedding

Again, got up early to get the hawks situated in the cabana before dawn.  Got out early to the restaurant with two hawks to deter the birds for the dining guests.  Flew and kept the hawks up at the restaurant until lunch set up.  Then took a very quick lunch break and started again at the pool area.  A guest who is there for the wedding is also a bird trainer in Florida.  It was nice to chat with a fellow bird trainer for a while.  She also came over later after the hawks were set up in the weathering area.     Mid-afternoon, the hawks started heading towards the cabana.  That is then break time for them.  Set them out in the weathering area with misters.  The bird trainer guest also came over after the hawks were set up in the weathering area.    All of the hawks took a misting bath in the bath pans and relaxed for a while.  There was a big wedding that evening in both the pool and beach area.  I kept a couple of hawks up for a while after their break.   I needed to clear everything out for wedding set up.   I am anticipating another busy day Sunday and also will be packing up for my departure Monday.   I took time to get to bed early (8:30) for another busy day.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Great weather staying around

Got the hawks out before dawn at the cabana.  Got ready and took the red-tail over the restaurant until about lunch time.  The grackles and sparrows were busy, and I worked the area with the hawk on the fist and stayed until the lunch settings were out.   The hawks were weathered and misted in the afternoon, then the pool and beach area got busy later.   I put one hawk up, the gentle one and I the grackles needed the intimidation of the more acrobatic one so I put that hawk up as well.  The grackles moved on.  It was busy friday.  Thee is a proposal dinner at the beach, a wedding at the park.  Hawks were brought into their enclosures to prevent any disturbance to either event.  Waited until the wedding at the park was over and then put the hawks up for the night.  It scheduled to be a busy saturday and I am getting out early to be ready for both the restaurant and beach.  As I was waiting for the wedding to end, I saw a beautiful peregrine falcon (maybe 3) that day, a bald eagle, vultures.  I did not bring my binos and wished I had.   

Friday, October 17, 2014

Beautiful Day,

October 16, 2014.  A beautiful, clear day, lowered humidity and temperatures.  Got up a bit early today, prior to my alarm and moved the hawks to the cabana before dawn.  I set up their perches and bath pans, then went to the restaurant for morning buffet to chase away birds.  I brought one hawk (the red-tailed hawk) on the fist.  He is calm and loves just sitting with me.  I noted some birds, grackles and sparrows in the area.  Fewer than yesterday.  There were guests but I think none of them were feeding the birds at the table.  But I saw some bread crumbs on the walkway below.  It is very hard to not be tempted to feed the birds if you like wildlife.   Sparrows usually forage after guests leave for crumbs on the patio floor.  The grackles though are all over the tables.  I stayed in the corner discretely with the hawk on the fist.  It was breezy and sunny (high 70's) so I felt that alternating between flying hawks and hawk on the fist works well.  I moved the hawk around.  And when he opened his wings, the grackles were moved about, making their alarm calls.  I also noted that more sugar dispensers were covered with a glass, an excellent, inexpensive way to keep the grackles from taking the sugar packets.  Yet, looks pleasing on the table.  When guests had departed.  I would take the hawk on the fist to the vacant, yet uncleared table, cover the plates with remaining food with the cloth napkins until staff could clear the table.  This worked very well at keeping the grackles away during that most crucial time where there are no people at the table after a meal.  You could nearly see the puzzlement in their body language.  But they are smart and may figure out a way to fly down and take off the napkins.  We will see if they really do figure it out.  I stayed until the lunch settings were being placed and took a lunch.

There is an event on the beach tonight (wedding I'm told) and I clear out the cabana of hawks and equipment for them to use.  Set up started around 2:00.  This is a perfect weather day for a wedding.

When the hawks were to be put away in the truck, excessive exhaust fumes were noticed.  So two of the hawks were moved to the room balcony as a precaution.  Then when the other hawks were brought over, the exhaust had subsided.  I can only conclude that a car had sad at the exit running for a while which we just arrived afterwards and noted the fumes in the air.  Many thanks to security for inspecting the entire garage for any running engines or vehicles to make sure the birds are safe.  I will bring down the two hawks in the morning.  It is beautiful outside now with low humidity, and I am thankful for that.

Now, back to the Macaw, Scully.  She is lying on her good side and she is sleeping on our couch during the day, her sleeping travel cage at night which now has a shelf perch.  I saw the cribs being used in the pool area for guests with infants.  I thought, good for a convalescing parrot with a broken leg too.    I asked housekeeping if I could purchase a used one, that is functional yet, not guest ready.  They donated a used one that was no longer guest ready (with a bit of rust on it, but perfectly functional) out of their surplus storage for me to use.  THANK YOU to management for letting me have the crib.   I will send photos of her in her new 'bed' when I get home on Monday.

  Scullys’ Story:
Scully was captive bred in 1999.  As she grew, it was found that she has scoliosis, a crooked spine.  She was unable to stand and stay out of her feces.  This was a real concern by the breeder who had considered putting her down due to her unable to stand.  It was then ingeniously thought to hang her in a diaper apparatus to encourage her spine to grow straighter.  The technique worked.  She grew in strength and coordination to be able perch, stand, and climb like any normal parrot.    Flying is very difficult for her. After a year of age, Scully was then given to us as a special needs parrot.  If you look closely at her back you will notice a hump and she walks with an uneven gait.   She loves to talk and converse with you and has been with us since the year 2000.  We have enjoyed her company ever since.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

More good news about our injured Macaw (Scully the Scarlet Macaw) parrot.  Todays xrays show the bones in her leg to be aligned perfectly for healing.  She will need 6 weeks of rest and finish her round of antibiotics.  She also has bites on her foot and legs.  Likely the culprit is a raccoon.  She has a shelf perch in her sleeping/travel cage and she can sit/lay on our couch during the day.

Today was calmer, but stressful for me, waiting for the results of our Parrots xrays to make sure she will heal correctly.   The hawks were again put in the cabana prior to dawn.  I flew two a first at the restaurant.  The grackles were out early for some reason, I anticipate with the coming cool front and weather this weekend.  They know and can sense weather patterns hours and days ahead of time.  They seemed to be 'carb loading' just boldy taking sugar with the hawks above me and me standing right there.  I rushed to help remove and cover the sugar packets along with staff.  Then I waited for the breakfast to be converted into lunch.  After lunch, hawks were set out to weather and misted.   I flew two on a regular basis by the pool and park to keep their presence known.  I watched the weather patterns, anticipating a thunderstorm, putting the hawks away at dinner break.  It poured and poured for about an hour.  Cleaning everything up with the heavy rains.   Then the hawks were put away for the evening in the truck.   Now, with the macaw injury experience, I am very glad that I am diligent with the hawks safety as well.  It only takes a short time, a few seconds for a raccoon, opossum, cat or dog to wreak havoc on our hawks and parrot.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Winds and a vet visit in N. Florida.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014.   Good news about our parrot (Scully the Scarlet Macaw).  She is sitting on her perch but favoring (hanging) her right leg.  We will see after the visit to Dr. Cesar Mena our vet in Lake City, FL.  She does have a broken leg, with bites on the leg. I still think the culprit is a stray dog.  Although we have raccoons and opossums too.  But they are usually out after dark.  She was found hurt in her cage at sundown as my husband was putting her away.   Xrays will occur tomorrow to see details of  the break is involved.  She is splinted and on antibiotics, and seems to understand her situation, not picking at the bandages and being a good patient.  My husband and I hope she makes a full recovery.  She is a delight to have around and we love her very much.

Today started with winds again.   The hawks were set in the cabana early again in preparation for the abatement.  And at the grackles were again at the resturant.  Too windy to fly, so I brought the red-tailed hawk up on the glove.  Just his presence helped to make a difference.  But I noted that when customers were served their beverages.  The grackles make their moves.  The tables are vacant while guests visit the buffet and I walked around with the hawk to deter them.  That was working,  As I was waiting, suddenly a bunch of grackles came in.  I wondered why, a family with a toddler were feeding bread and tossing it at the end of the table.  I discretely told the server and later management about it.  They say they do enforce the no feeding the birds policy, so I will make a point to let them know if I see it again.   I also asked if they could ask guests when finished to cover their plates with the cloth napkins until the tables can cleared.   I do think that would help out as well.  They do manage the sugar packet situation by simply inverting an empty glass over the sugar packets.   I sat the hawks out to weather, misted them and during the day I was dealing with getting vet appointments for the parrot and also being on call for the restraunt and pool and beach area when needed.  It was busy since I am still quite worried about the injured parrot back home.  I tried to just take a hawk on the fist, but I have too few hands for all of the gear,.  So the bell cart works best.  Especially with the hawk boxes readily available to secure the hawks when done. Evening patrols and flights started to the north end where grackles were seen the prior night.  The difference is that when the entire gear and pole perches come around, the grackles don't stay and they leave when already there.  At sundown and dusk, the hawks were then put away for the evening in the truck.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Not so quiet Monday

The hawks were set out in the cabana early again, pre dawn.  The days started breezy.  I then got ready for the day with me getting some delayed paperwork done and in the mail.  I got a call from the restraunt that I was needed there, got out and flew the Harris hawks for a while.  One went straight down the baywalk to the beach area. So I had to get him back.  Then the other also moved down to the same area, winds were affecting them.  I then just let one up and she sat on the building above the dining guests and she flew up into as soar, carried by the winds.  I was talking to some residents and immediately had to end the conversation and follow her around the hotel.  I was worried that she may cross over to the mainland in the wind.  Telemetry signal indicated she was in the area behind the hotel, by the exit and pool, but I could not see her.  I was also concerned that the signal I was getting was the same frequency of a car or hotel security system.  I have encountered that before.  I followed the signal, which can be difficult, due to buildings and structures reflecting the signal.  Then in the wind, I saw her soar around.  It was difficult to multitask, holding a receiver, pushing the cart with her box, and dealing with my hat constantly blowing off my head from the wind.  I put the cart in a safe place and concluded that she was on the roof of the hotel.  I still called for her and then after about an hour or so,  contacted security to see if their radio security signal was in the band range as my telemetry, it is not, so maybe a car at valet parking was so.  But not so.   Security went up to the roof to see if the hawk was sitting there.  And I went to the cabana to set up her perches to attract her it.  Then the signal got stronger and wavered in the receiver.  I looked up and she was following me to the cabana.  I got her on her t post, then safe in her enclosure.  Relieved I got lunch and called to let everyone know that she is home safe.  It was so windy, that beach umbrellas were not opened for guests in the pool area.  So the hawks were kept in their enclosures safe from excessive winds.   Evening patrols then started with falcons on the fist, assessing the areas where any grackles may be.  The one closest corner (to the mainland)  on the north side had a few, less than a dozen grackles in the trees.  A place that will have hawks there the next day at dusk.  This is where they cross, with the minimum distance across the water.  Then the falcons were walked by the bridge and bus stop where the iguanas hang out (nick named Jurassic Park by one resident).   There were about a dozen pigeons there on the ground feeding.  As the falcons were spotted on the fist, the pigeons took flight in an escape mode.  It was an day that falconers deal with many times, soaring, and situations where the weather just makes things challenging.  As I was putting the hawks away.  I got a call from home that our scarlet macaw has been injured, with a hurt leg.  She is a scarlet macaw and it happened just prior to her being put away at sunset.  The culprit is not found, but her one leg is injured, sprained and some tail feathers are missing.  Likely a dog or an early evening raccoon. She is going to the vet tomorrow for an examination.  Wish us luck.  We have had her for 15 years and she is part of our family.  

Calmer day

Breezy warm, sunny.  A calmer and quieter day.  Still got up early to get ready for the breakfast crowd.  And I had the hawks out until lunch.   The rest of the day was setting up for misting the other hawks, flying the hawks periodically around the pool.  One time a bird was scolding the hawk in the tree,  It is a loggerhead shrike, mocking bird appearance and mannerisms, but with a raspy call and the distinctive black cap and mark of it's eye.  I flew the hawks until they moved back to the cabana.  Usually meaning they want a bath.  I set them down and sure enough, they hopped right into their bathpans.  The evening flights were done around the pool until sundown (and winds got a bit too strong).  Then a walk was done across the river to the areas where the backbirds had moved to last year.  No sign of them roosting there either, likely they have moved inland or further south.  Cold fronts up north have not really started, to push birds south, so another group may show up in the later weeks ahead.  The walk was pleasant on a breezy warm night.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Warm and busy

Hawks were placed in the cabana early again.  I expected a busy saturday morning and I was right.  I got them over to the resturant early, for breakfast and I stayed there until just prior to lunch break.  The hawks sat in the palm trees and were keeping the birds away from sugar packets and food.  Right after lunch break. I returned to the beach area and  I was talking to a resident.  Pool management called over and said we need hawks here.  We quickly ended our conversation, and I let two hawks out immediately to get them in the air, while I got my gear on for walking around.  It was lunch and the pool was very busy as well as the beach.  I kept the hawks out for a couple of hours until the noon rush was over and I put all of the hawks out for the day in the weathering area. Misted them and let them bathe .  I then off and on flew the hawks in the pool and beach area.  After dinner break, I put the oldest and youngest females up.  They hung around as normal and the oldest followed me around faithfully.  The youngest flew towards the banyon tree at the exit.   She usually follows me faithfully as well.  I could not see or hear her.  So, I called the oldest, put her in and looked with telemetry for the youngest. She was behind a hedges, next to the building where equipment and supplies are kept.  She was sitting low in a bush, right by the road.  What has be concerned is the bait box for rodents right there.  I looked at her crop to see if she had eaten anything, such as a poisoned rodent which can kill her with secondary poisoning.  I saw no evidence, so I am hoping she was chasing one of the hatchling iguanas I have seen in the area.   I started to get them ready to take back to the truck and the exit was blocked by a tour bus. So I went to my room to cool off a bit and wait for the bus to finish loading up.  When I went back with a load of hawks to put in the truck, I saw that the garage was full to overflowing with cars.  I was concerned about exhaust fumes from all of the cars entering and exiting the garage and decided that having them sleep in their enclosures in the cabana would be safer for them (and more sleep for me).  I told security and they kindly said that they would help keep an eye out on the hawks the cabana on their rounds.  I turned the front of the boxes around so the curiosity would be less and went to bed.   The next day starts.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wind, wind

I got the hawks in the cabana pre dawn again.  It was windy even early in the morning.  I got ready then it rained early, so the breakfast outside at the resturant was not happening.  I walked there and saw grackles, in the rush to get guests out of the rain,  the staff left some sugar packets on tables.  The birds were having a party with them.  So, I took the sugar packets and picked up around the tables.  Then went to the cabana to let the hawks out.  It was windy so, I had to make sure the hawks were comfortable all day with misting.  I had quite a few guests and residents visit the area and learned of a fireworks show at the hotel across the way.  The fireworks producers convention was going on that week.  I saw the initial fireworks earlier this week, wondering what was going on.  I found a good nickname from a staffer for the iguana colony:  Jurassic Park.  The iguanas are ever hungry, watching for food and drinks to be served to guests and not deterred at all when they are chased away.  I've decided to lure them towards me instead with a few pieces of fruit, to keep them away from guests who do not appreciate them.  I like them and they are very intelligent and sly about getting food from people.  Evening flights started behind the office building.  Two hawks were put up and they were pushed around by the wind quite a bit,  I was concerned for their safety, being so close to the glass windows of the building, for one hit a window last saturday, but was unharmed, she braked just before hitting.   They both flew around and the oldest one started into a soar, not an issue, except I am surrounded by water and did not want her to soar inland, for a marathon telemetry search.   So she was called down immediately, she responded promptly and she was put into her box, as well as the youngest one.  It was  just too windy to safely fly, but the soaring around gives a good signal to the grackles that the hawks are still about.  So the day ended at sundown.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Windy, early start

Got the hawks staged in the cabana early again in the morning.  Then got ready for the day.  As I was finishing up, I got a call from the resturant about birds taking sugar packets and guest meals.  I quickly finished getting ready and got two hawks out for flying.  It was calm out and they sat in the trees until the meals were over to keep the grackles at bay.  When a hawk landed in one of the palm trees on the walkway, a young iguana bailed out of the palm and landed in the plants below.  They do not like the hawks near them.  I flew the hawks back and forth to the T post until the breakfast rush was over, around 10:30, then got the weathering area ready.  Winds were picking up so I was cautious about flying during the day, winds were quite strong.  Few birds were about the pool and beach that day.  I waited for winds to slow down for afternoon/evening flights.  And at sunset the some light rains came in, so it was an early end to the day.   

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another warm day

Typical Miami fall weather, humid, mid 80's.  Got hawks set up in cabana prior to dawn. just in case I'm asked to deter birds at breakfast.   I enjoyed watching the lunar eclipse while I was walking the hawks out.  Then got ready for the day.    Then proceeded to get fresh batteries in their transmitters, and get equipment ready for flights.  They were placed in the weathering area and misted.  Breakfast at the resturant had to grackles so I just waited to see if they showed, up They really enjoyed it and I noted that few grackles were in the area, mugginess also makes the grackles and other birds lethargic too.  As I prepared for evening patrols and flights, got a call from the resturant that guests were seated and to be ready for when the order arrives.  Hawks were put up and sat in the palm trees and were called back and forth.  One went to the roof, perfect positioning for keeping birds at bay.   After a while winds picked up and she had moved towards the guard house.  I know her favorite places to stay so I kept with the guests until they were done, then looked for the wayward hawk using telemetry.    Sure enough she was found behind the office building parking garage and came back promptly.  Winds were higher so patrols were limited to bird on fist patrols, which ended fairly early this past evening.   I feel that the moon phases (full moon cycle just going on now) does make the winds stronger.  I assume that studies have be done to confirm my hunches.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting steamy again outside

Tuesday, October 7, 2014.   Got the hawks in the cabana early. I like doing that, I avoid the dogs being walked.  With the curiosity, the dog walkers just don't understand the hawks fear any unfamiliar dog and I have to move quickly to keep the hawks from jumping around in their boxes.  Plus and I can get them settled and ready early.  I did some paperwork waiting for the rains to end.  I did research on the web the heron I saw last night is a black crowned night heron.   Then it rained for a while before I could set them out.  They ended up staying in their boxes due to being on call dining guests.   Off and on rain until after noon.  I flew the Harris hawks on call around the pool, did some checks for outside dining guests outside but none were there on such a hot day.  I flew the two oldest females together and the oldest still is being a bully towards her younger partner.  It is all over the light post as to gets to sit there and be the queen of the light post.  I then flew the youngest female and both of them started sparring on the light post too.  So the oldest was put away and she was flown later.  The grackles were fewer.  Until, dinner break, when I got back there were about a dozen grackles at the pool.  One employee brought me an injured sparrow (from the grackles picking on it).    I let it rest a few hours and let it go.  Management told me it was a guest that was feeding the grackles and that is what brought in so many after the dinner break.    Otherwise they stay away with the hawks out.  I also feel that a request for dining outside guests to cover their plates with their cloth napkin will assist in keeping grackles from being attracted to the food after a meal.   The weather was warm, in the afternoon and guests were  showing up after the rains.  Some  saw the hawks, were fascinated by them, and wanted to hold the hawks, and hold the T posts, but I politely told them that my insurance policy does not allow that.   The hawks were flown a pair at time, until sundown and put to bed that evening.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Warming up again

Still a lovely, breezy day but warmer.  I got the hawks out at the cabana early again.  Then got ready for my day and any abatement work early in the morning.  I went to the resturant, with each of the hawks, but few grackles were there.   Then as I was in the lunchroom (I try to eat early before guests are eating their lunches).  I got a call to be out at the resturant for lunch abatement.  I quickly finished my meal and took a hawk over to stop the grackles.  I waited with her until the guests were done eating.  I went back, set out all of the hawks.  And cleaned their enclosures.   It was a quiet afternoon, and guests were few on the beach.  I flew off and on the hawks, back and forth.   Did some paperwork, and organized supplies and stock.  Evening came and I again was sure to be ready if called up again.  But, it was warm and no guest were out.  I flew again in the evening hours, but the winds were getting stronger, so the hawks were put away.  I got a call from Brickell security regarding a white owl spotted in a tree by one of the residences.  I am always curious and walked over.  It turned out to be a crowned night heron.   Just using the tree as a roost.   I was delayed putting the hawks away in the truck that evening.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

A break from the heat

Sunday, October 5, 2014.  A huge difference in the weather as the front moved through.  It was very pleasant getting up extra early for such a gorgeous day.   I set the hawks in the cabana by 6:00.  Then got ready for the day.  I took one of the hawks by the resturant for breakfast abatement, early, but few patrons were there and no birds.   So, I flew them around the beach and especially the park.  When one landed in a palm tree on the way back to the beach from the restruant, I saw something green fall out of the tree hard onto the seawall.  It was a young iguana, not liking a hawk landing right near it's sleeping quarters.  It was cool so it was sluggish and I picked it up and observed it.  Then let it go, it was fine, they jump out of trees all of the time.  I then flew around the park with all hawks, the other two oldest still were having a grudge match, to the oldest was put away for a while.  I then got word that patrons were eating breakfast and I was needed there.  I immediately took one hawk over, my youngest, she stays close.  There are few perches there, so she sat on the T post, then the slippery railing.]  Then down the seawall back to the beach.  I met the breakfast manager and discussed having an unused beach umbrella stand on the patio so I may have a second T post for the hawk to land on.  The hawks do not like to sit in the palm trees, they prefer branches.   I met the morning manager and discussed having an unused beach umbrella stand at the patio area to for me to have a second T post there for the hawk.   I flew off and on all day, with all of the hawks rotating them out to get all of them flown.  I then went behind the office building with the two that stick close to me, the oldest and youngest.  They did well.  But the oldest flew into a window but was able to slow down to prevent injury.  I was surprised at that, she is an experienced hawk.  I flew until sundown, to get ready for another early day on Monday.  I also saw the peregrine right at sundown land on the fifth highest railing of the residence by the beach.   I also met a couple who lives at the condo on the top floor and they got to see the hawks fly.  I met a woman who was from Germany and mentioned the peregrine (Wanderfalke) in German to her.  There is always great interest when I mention the resident peregrine falcon in downtown Miami.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saturday, Oct. 4. 2014

Another hot one, eagerly waiting for cooler weather.  I got the hawks out into the cabana and on their perches to start misting.  I just let 3 out while I set up.    To keep their presence in the trees to keep birds at bay. On saturday, the beach and pool both had guests, so I wanted to make sure the hawks were out an up.  Chased some iguanas away from dining guests a couple of times too.   I called the hawks around the park for a couple of hours, put the falcons and red-tail away and flew all four.  The two oldest ones (females) had a spat over the tall light post in the park growling, pushing each other off  at each other and footing at each other.  I went over to break it up and they continued to spat and argue in the trees.  I  put them all in their boxes, due to rains coming in.  Then let them all out again.  The two females continued to argue, taking the argument to the base of the light post.  It took be a while to get their feet unlocked.   I held the oldest and finally she let go of the other one's feet.  I then decided to put them all away for the night.   I walked towards front of the hotel, due to hearing grackles making their food announcement.  Staff told me that the grackles are their at breakfast, so I will be out early in the a.m. with my oldest hawk, she will be a good choice there.  

Come on cool front

Hot again, 91 sunny, puffy clouds, the high for today, October 4, 2014.  Got the hawks out early.  And misted them in the cabana while in their enclosures.   I wore shorts the first part of the day rather than long pants, I only have 1 pair of tropical weight pants, the others are great, except they are a tight weave  cotton that keeps them from breathing in this summer heat.  I changed into the long pants after I realized I would get sunburned on my legs.  I don't really tan.   The hawks and falcons were misted all day long.  I flew 2 of them by the pool and park area for several hours.  One just stayed back at the sabal palm.  Just keeping cool, near the misting water.  Then a rain came in and I kept the hawks out in the rain. for it was a light rain and the really enjoyed it.  The hawks took what I call a rain bath.  They jump in their bath pans and roll around in them getting soaked in the rain.  After they dried enough to fly, I flew two of them again.   The grackles at the pool are now quiet when guests are brought food.  For they have learned that when the call their 'food call' I appear with the hawks.  So, I stand by the pool and park with two hawks in the banyon trees.  Later, around 4:00 all of the hawks were flown, and the others were put in their enclosures.  Large, dark clouds came in, with lighting meaning a second heavy rain on the way, so the hawks were put in their enclosures, and I just waited out the rain.   Then after sunset, the falcons were walked around the key on the fist.   This is important as well, to keep hawks presence all around the key.  A heron flushed from the tree announcing the predator in vicinity call.  So even a raptor on the glove is important.  Hawks were then put away around 7:30 that evening and some supplies had arrived, some additional flashlights, and a TYVEK fabric rain poncho.  I would think that TYVEK would be a great poncho/rain cape fabric, tough, waterproof, lightweight, folds up very compactly, yet breathable.  I will be using it when it rains.   With the flashlight, I will be illuminating the hawk enclosures after dark.   (I am attempting to train the hawks to fly into their enclosures from a distance after dark).  They already do so in daylight.  The rain cooled things off so it was great to get a walk in after the flying was finished.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Another warm day

Got the hawks out early, then started the misting right away.   They were misted then I had my lunch break early, to get the hawks on the wing to deter any grackles at the pool and beach area.  Then I put all of the hawks up for several hours around the park.   Guests stopped by to talk about the birds, the husband has done work rehabilitating birds at a center in New York.  I explained the concept of organic to another guest where natural cycles are used for pest control, rather than chemicals or poisons.  Later around 4:00 rains started, I got the hawks in their enclosures and took a short dinner break.  The rains were a short one and the hawks were back in the air around the pool.   Until the next threat of rain at sunset.   

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Weather is changing

Set the hawks out with the misting system nearly all day long.  The weather started very muggy, then started drying out during the very sunny day.  The sun was very warm so I had to make sure the hawks were well cooled with misting them.   The groundskeeper makes sure that the cabana where I place the hawk boxes is always cleaned out with his blower.  I wait for him to finish using the blower in the area to avoid any dust that the hawks can breathe.  Then flights started with 2 hawks at a time.  Few residents were in the park so I let the hawks sit for hours in the trees.  It makes a big difference in keeping the grackles at bay.  Guests on the beach and pool were attracting the iguanas and I assisted chasing away the iguanas when they got too bold and started climbing up to get guest's meals.  The hawks do not deter the large iguanas, but the smaller ones make themselves very scarce when the hawks are up.    The hawks weigh about 3 lbs each.  The hawks especially like the banyon trees and the sabal palm above their weathering area and sit there for hours.  Evening flights were again done in the park with all 4 hawks flying about. One loves to sit on the T post and stays close, the other are great in flying about, being periodically called to the T posts for treats.   They stayed out until sundown, as the sky was watched and I listened for any grackles trying to roost in front of the hotel or office building.  Everyone was put away safely and I am seeking to rent a cart of some sort to make the setting out and putting away of the birds more efficient.   

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Flew well today.  Got the hawks out early enough to avoid the first set of rain storms on the beach.  Set up the misting system where they can keep cool and comfy.   Then I finished setting up the enclosures, and carts.  Got some equipment straightened out.  Then the afternoon/evening flights started, when guests were feeding the birds at the pool.   Got two hawks up and they flew over to their favorite trees at the pool.  I let them sit out until dinner break and the evening flights.  The park was relatively empty, so all of the hawks were put up for exercise and 'presence' flights to let the birds know that the hawks are still around.     Security told me that a count of around 50 birds are at the condo closest to the mainland.  So, we went there to make sure the birds area aware that the hawks are still around.  One resident who lives on the island told me a hawk sits on his balcony all of the time.  With further discussion, I knew it was the peregrine that lives here.  He says he sees the falcon year round.  The hawks were put up at dusk with a risk of rain coming in.  Then a walk around the island was done with falcons on the fist. To keep a raptor presence on the island.  Always good day when I can get all of the hawks up in the air.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 29, 2014

Cleaning day.  Got the hawks set out to clean their enclosures and the cabana area where they stay.   The hawks were misted all day long, it was a hot one.   Patrols were minimal as the beach was quiet, and no grackles were an issue at the pool area as well.  I like bringing a hawk into the pool area for the guest, but I have to balance the wishes of guests, some who find the hawks fascinating, and others who seem uncomfortable being near them.  I engaged guests who were interested in the hawks, answered their questions. The eyes  of hawks seem serious and fierce, but if you look at them closely, it is that to have binocular vision, the eye socket has evolved to 'turn front' from sideways as in non-predatory birds.  The brow bone is prominent, to shade their eyes from the sun.  The stripe beneath the falcons eyes (mylar stripe) is to absorb glare, just like athletes do with black markings under their eyes.   But both  raptors and prey birds can see forward quite well.    Then for evening patrols, I had to make room for an event on the beach that night, clearing out most of my gear so the cabana can be used for the banquet and event staff.   Patrols at night were started, yet few grackles (just a few starlings as well) were flying about.  Got a report of some at one of the condo buildings.  But none were seen at dusk.   Stayed out until I was sure that grackles were not coming back after dark.  Then walked around again after dinner to see if any were still around.   When walking around with the hawks, I got thanks from residents at the bus stop as to how the hawks have greatly diminished the messy droppings from the birds there.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Peregrine Falcon is back

Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.    Sunny, mid-80's.   Another sultry day.  I set the hawks out to weather on their perches.  I misted them to make sure they are kept cool and comfortable.  On these sultry days, the hawks stay in the shade in the trees when up and move very little.   I walked around the pool wit the red-tailed hawk.  He likes to ride on the glove and is very comfortable around people when doing so.  Few birds were around the pool and beach so the hawks sat and weathered most of the day. While weathering the hawks, one falcon looked in the sky late afternoon with great interest.  I knew then he had spotted the peregrine and  I could then see it fly around.  I landed on the east side of the adjacent condo building, apparently on a balcony.  I love watching the peregrine and love having it around.    Evening flights again started around the office building.  Patrols were done to see if the grackles and starlings have moved to another area of the island, but they were absent.  It was Sunday night after putting the hawks up for the night, a supply run was made to get batteries at Key Biscayne.  Thinking that the grackles had re-located there.  A walking/driving survey was done to spot any roosting there.  But no signs were found.  Monday morning, it was quiet around the am.  Except for the resident pigeons outside my room.  Which I enjoy watching and enjoy their company.  Monday is cleaning day and I get out early with the hawks to weather and clean their enclosures.   

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fewer blackbirds

Saturday, September 27, 2014.    Hawks were set out today in the weathering area.   It was sunny, so a mister was constant on the hawks until the shade reached by mid-afternoon.   Guests were at the beach and pools.  So, hawks were flown to deter grackles at both areas.  The hawks simply sat in the trees and  flew from shady spot to shady spot in each tree, but that was enough for the grackles to leave guests alone.  The iguanas were in the beach area, the large ones as usual unafraid of the humans and hawks.  But the small ones hid deep in the bushes and stayed still.   The evening flights started at 6:00 after the pool had stopped serving guests.  Two hawks were set up at the parking garage at the office building.  My favorite and I think most effective area for deterrence.   A good presence for the hawks, and few dogs being walked in the area to disrupt activities.  I saw a few starlings wheel about and just a few grackles came in.  Droppings on the pavement and walkways were much reduced.  I still stayed out until darkness came in to make sure that the grackles did not appear after the hawks left.  Sunday morning, I noted very little grackle activity and thinking that the wild peregrine in the area that has returned is also helping itself to grackles for dinner.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Start with rain again

When I got up, I checked the area for grackles.   I noted that their were back at the guard house area and office building this morning.   I walked about to see exactly where they were.  They were mostly on the parking garage side of the office building, few behind the bus stop where we concentrated on them the prior night.  Got up and started moving the hawks out.  Rain delayed.  I went back in and ordered supplies.   I moved the rest of the hawks out.  Then straightened up the area and set them out for the day.   It was sunny.  Starting into the weekend, so guests were arriving.   The iguanas are bold and they watch for food to be delivered.   I heard some guests suddenly become noisy and laughing and knew that an iguana had taken their food/drinks.  It was drinking one of frozen drinks.  Luckily these guests were amused at the surprise.  I told staff and they took care of the guests.  I flew the hawks for a while on the beach for a while, but the heat and heavy air made them reluctant to move about much.  They sat in the palm with multiple branches (sabal?) above the area where I weather the hawks and just watched everything.  Guests were naturally curious and explained the concept to them.   The iguana babies and youngsters made themselves scarce when the hawks are up.  The adults, not so; they are bold and unafraid of humans.  Evening flights started at 6:00 with 4 hawks up around the pool.  Then t reduced to 2 hawks around the office building and bus stop.  They were good, hanging around flying back and forth.  Moving the grackles around to a smaller number behind the guard house.  Saturday morning when I woke up.  I saw fewer grackles and starlings.  Right at sundown, I spotted the PEREGRINE.  It had moved to one of the condos.   I did not see it land.  Then I spotted the falcon moving to roost on the mainland.  So the PEREGRINE is back.  Likely just came down from its summer territory this week.  A welcome site for me.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rainy day agin

Got the hawks out early,   Then set them out to clean their enclosures and equipment.  I aways get soaked when I clean their enclosures.  So I changed into a dry shirt.   It was a muggy day, with rains threatening.  So I had hoped to clean their boxes before more rains set in.   I flew one of the hawks around the pool in the afternoon.  She was reluctant, the air was heavy, hard to fly in,  and  it was hot and she just wanted to sit on the statue and watch.   Few grackles were out that morning around the key as well.  Afternoon rains came in and I quickly put the weathering hawks back, getting soaked again in the process.   So I changed my shirt again to a dry one.  Then this afternoon, after the rain, I ordered supplies (small flashlights) to place in the hawk boxes to illuminate the interior for when the come in.   Evening patrols started later, around 6:30.  The grackles and starlings were again at the office building, not at the park nor the eatery.  Two hawks, the ones that stay close were kept on T posts and flown back and forth until after 8:00.    The grackles and starlings had moved on by then.  A walking survey was done few grackles were in the trees.    Evening was ended then.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Late night for the hawks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014.   A quiet day.  Set the hawks up on the beach to make sure they had a good day of weathering due to the past two rainy days that kept them inside.   It was warm, but mostly cloudy.   Cleaned up some enclosures, organized.   Saw the iguanas everywhere, on the bushes, at the seawall.  Some guests were dealing with iguanas attempting to take their food.  Anything colorful, from drinks, such as smoothies to fruit and shrimp are eaten by the iguanas.  They are very bold, so I brought over one of the hawks to see if it would deter the iguanas, nope.  They just stared at me.  So I herded the iguana away from the guests.   I told the guests, that the iguanas use their tail and slap at anything they find annoying or threatening, and the bob their heads and display their 'beard' (flap under the chin) when the feel you are encroaching on them.  Baby iguanas are common right now.  For the evening flights, hawks were set up again at the concourse by the parking garage.  Four were put up, they flew around well.   I have two hawks on similar frequencies of transmitters,  Too close.  So one transmitter was canceling out the other.  I had a time locating one due to this issue,  I have a new, used receiver that was properly calibrated.   I took the battery out of the interfering transmitter and tracked the wayward hawk behind the office building.  By then, it was past sunset and she had gone to roost.  But with persistence and training her to the illuminated tall (16ft) T post she was back safe in her box for the night.   Finished up well past 9:00 that evening.  I am putting the dominant transmitter on her and the recessive transmitter on the hawk that does not wander off.  Lesson learned.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rest of  Tuesday, September 23, 2014:   Waited for the rains to end.  Hawks were then moved to the beach and evening patrols were started around 5:30.   Hawks were set up at the walkway by the parking garage at the hotel with 2 carts of 4 hawks.    All 4 hawks were released into trees above the hotel to deter birds from flying and roosting on the hotel.  Across the road at the office building, I noted that the grackles would sit in the trees, yet the starlings sit on the rooftops.   I love to watch the boiling, swirling flights of the starlings with the coordinated flight patterns.  The hawks were flying back and forth on T posts and trees.  Birds were moving about and attempting to roost in the trees.   Then the carts with their vari kennels were moved across the street next to the office building.   Positioning of the boxes is crucial to getting the hawks down in a timely fashion.  They need a clear 'flight path' so they can fly in and out of the boxes confidently.  It was a busy evening with lots of people walking dogs and out for evening walks.  Affecting  the flight path of the birds at bus stop.  Two hawks like to roost at sundown, so they were put up; to prevent worrisome sleepless nights by the falconer.  The other two are very connected to their falconer and come down readily to a T post with a light on it, then laddered down to another t post to the vari kennel.  One hawk stayed out until 8:00, attempting to roost, but was safely retrieved using the lighted t post and laddering method with a treat in the box at the end of the day.   By the time the last hawk was put to bed.  I noted very little bird noises.  The next morning, also it seemed very quiet at the office building as well.  A good start.   

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014:  Waiting for rain to stop.   Noted this morning on the patio outside my room that the drain was clogged from feathers.   I took a paper towel and removed the feathers so the drain would work this is more than normal feathers from the resident pigeons.  I suspect plucked feathers from a caught bird (looks like a dove).    I suspect the wild peregrine may be back and catching birds.  When I am flying my hawks I note also the pest birds moving about in evasive tactics, unrelated to my hawk's movements.  So I think the peregrine, (or a local Cooper's hawk) may be taking advantage of the abatement process to catch a meal.   It is a welcome assistance to my abatement work.  
September 22, 2014:   Set up early around 7:30am  and moved the hawks in their boxes to the beach before the heat of the day.  Readied myself and changed into work clothes so I looked fresh, not wilted from the  heat  and moving the hawks to the staging area at the cabana.  Set the hawks in and out several times due to the threat of rains, which for the most part missed the key.   It was Monday, and slow season, so during the day, pest birds were few.  I also noted many small  baby iguanas around the key, this years hatchings, which are a prey item for the Harris hawks.  I have to be careful as to not let the hawks catch one.   I walked the entire key to survey for droppings and bird activity during the day, and found the minor bird activity was around the bistro (food dropped) and the trees which have dropped small fruit on the ground that resembles crab apples.   Otherwise a quiet day, until the evening roosting started  around 6:30.   Hawks were in position by the office building and the birds (grackles and starlings) were moving nervously with the hawks in the area.   I kept two them up flying around until dusk fell and until they  showed roosting behavior, crated into their boxes.  A third one was up who sticks close by and rode on a T post the entire time.  That hawk was called back and forth on from T post to T post under lights after dark.  Just the sound of the wings and bells made the pest birds very nervous and they would vacate the trees for another area.  This is a good technique, for the birds are reacting to the  sounds of the hawk, not know if it is hunting or just moving about.   Finished up around 8:30 and packed up the hawks for another night.     

Monday, September 22, 2014

First day Flying

September 21, 2014.

A HOT day, humid, little cooling breeze.  This is set up day.   The cabana where the birds sit in their vari kennels was cleared and they got out around 2:00.   It was very hot to move them I had to take a cooling break during taking them out at the heat of midday  (drank LOTS of water) to prevent overheating.  I got them on their perches, spritzed them with water and then proceeded to get them ready for evening flights.  I walked around the pool area with one hawk (the red-tail) since guests were served food and fries are a favorite of the pest birds.  Saw lots, and lots of baby iguanas around as well.    Got the telemetry and field equipment together, then at 6:30 started a patrol in front of the office building as the grackles and starlings came in.   I flew both hawks (Harris') and my most experienced one started foraging flights which move the birds around.  She aways stays nearby, but has gotten into the trees where she could not be seen easily.  So the telemetry assured me she was still around. Of course there was lots of interest from the public, educating about this natural method.  One fellow told me he flew Harris' hawks in his native England. They are a favorite of falconers with their personality and social structure which works very well with humans.   It started to get dark so I searched for the older hawk, she was behind the guard house in a tree.   She was low in the tree plucking a bird she had caught.  So, the pattern is being set.  Got the flashlight out, found her.  Got her down on a T post (food on T post held in place with ball bungies, and a flashlight on the T post illuminating a the food.  Both held in place with ball bungies.   She then readily went into her vari kennel, for she knows she is safe.    The T posts I feel is an extremely important tool for abatement work and hawk recovery after dark.  She readily went into  her kennel for sleeping.   I don't have hawks out camping and sleepless nights.  Wrapped everything up with birds safely back in the truck around 9:00.  A good start and a good day.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Birds are back

Back in South Florida.  Did a walkabout and surveyed the birds that have been reported to be returning and migrating back south to Florida.   When I arrived after 3:00, I noted few birds on the island and hotel.  I then went over to security and they told me the birds start appearing in numbers around 7:00 pm.   I observed a cloud of starlings across the water; two flocks of several hundred, boiling around in motion like they are well known to do.  Then the grackles also started appearing and calling, both boat-tailed and the smaller common grackle.   The birds did start appearing great numbers like before, across from the storefronts, bus station and hotel.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Friday, January 16th,  2014:  Cool, light wind, sunny.   A beautiful day.  Got the Harris hawks out for flights nearly all day long.  A squirrel decided to appear in the park and the hawks had some fun giving it a few thrills.  It went on for a while, then the squirrel found cover.    The hawks were flown around the pool and beach area consistently until sunset, then a walk with the falcons was done around the island to check the status of the grackles across the harbor.  They are still across the harbor.  Now it was time to pack and head back home to North Florida.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014:  Cooler, clearer and windy.    Few guests were out, due to the seasonably cool weather.     Also, quite windy so I had to make sure the winds had slowed before I set them out.    Had some meetings and set the birds out afterwards.  Also the area was straightened up and organized around the cabana. As it got later and the winds slowed for flights with the hawks.  Two hawks were flown around the pool when guests who are dining.   Enjoyable flights across the pool from post to post were done with one particular hawk.  It was fun to watch her glide close Harris' hawks were put up.  The grackles left.  Again around the North part of the island, grackles were across the harbor.  The final day is today and we will see how long the grackles stay off the island.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014   Cooler, with decreasing humidity, light cloud cover.  Rains occurred for about an hour at dawn, shortening my morning wake up swim.  I set all of the hawks and falcons out to relax.  Then I put two Harris hawks up for flights.   They enjoyed the cooler weather and were flying all over the place.   The winds were light so it was ideal weather, especially with the cloud cover.  Beach and pool attendance was light, which surprises me, since it was such a wonderful day to be outside.  I expected more residents to be walking their dogs or just being outside.   I then put the falcons away after a few hours and put up all of the Harris' hawks.  Unknown to me, the osprey had caught a fish and was eating in the trimmed tree at the circle entrance to the park.  The hawks paid little attention to the osprey and I approached it taking both video and photos.  It called in the high pitched gentle call of the osprey and moved off.  One of the Harris hawks followed it but stayed in the area.  I flew all four of them again for quite a while, called them from point to point.   Evening patrols were again started, this time with falcons on the fist.  Again at dusk the grackles were definitely across the water, but I saw no scouting grackles on the island looking for a place to roost.   We spoke with quite a few residents and answered questions.  All in all a good day.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014,  Warm, sunny.  I finally fell well enough from my cold and lingering cough to take a  re-dawn swim prior to starting my day.   I brought the hawks out an immediately got them up in the air (all 4 of them) and flew at the beach and pool.  I noted that grackles are starting their courting and nesting behavior with the lengthening days.   I would fly the hawks, then the winds got a bit strong, so I flew them back into their training boxes.  Then I would wait for the winds to slow down a bit and put them up again.   I flew a second session when the winds had slowed.   And took time to take photos which will appear later.   But had to curtail flights and setting the hawks out.  A guest had a dog in the beach area.   I was putting the hawks up and the dog was off leash, curious and wanting to chase the hawks.  I asked the guest to leash the dog.  I was concerned about the safety of the hawks when tethered in the weathering area.  So until the guest left later on, I had to stop flights.  Later in the day, evening patrols were to the north side of the island.  As before, the grackles were across the water, with very little activity on the island.  But, there are noise/predator/distress call deterrents across the water.  I am curious how it will affect the grackles staying after relocating there.   I also walked the area after dark and did not see any indication of grackles retiring to the island at this time.   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014:  Sunny, mixed clouds warm, more humid.  I did a walk around the key, looking for signs of roosting birds in the morning, very few droppings were found, some by the entrance to security at the hotel across the street, looks like pigeons, some raptor, like dropping at the base of a tree across from the real estate office.  Security told me that a handful of grackles are roosting in the tree next to the bus stop.  I have not seen nor heard activity from that time.  The hawks were set out to weather and enclosures were cleaned, supplies were organized from the busy weekend.  My truck is getting stubborn to start, so the engine heater was plugged in.  It started this morning and I ran it for 15 minutes to get the batteries (it is a diesel with 2 batteries) charged.  A trickle charger will be brought it to keep the batteries charged.    Very little grackle activity was noted around the pool and beach.  There was an event at the beach, and I put the hawks up earlier than usual.  But, I again went in the evening to the north of the island to assess the grackles there.  WIth the hawks in their enclosure, all I had to do was appear and the grackles saw me with the equipment and left for across the water.  I just waited until the grackles were settled in.  Across the water, I can hear recorded predator and distress calls.  The grackles now see me in my work attire especially the hat and move on.   Studies have been done to show that birds definitely recognize people and threats, even a while later.  I again walked the key that evening after putting the hawks 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014:  Clear, lower humidity, sunny with mixed clouds.  A lovely day.  The hawks were set out and two were flown right away to keep grackles at bay when guests at the pool start dining.  As I was flying the hawks.  The osprey flew up on a light post in the part with a fish and proceeded to eat.  So, it is seems just fine.  The hawks are not disturbed or upset at all at the presence of the osprey, since ospreys only eat fish.  The hawks were flown off and on all day, rotating each out to keep the grackles away from guests.  Fewer guests were at the beach due to it being Sunday.  But a family at the pool dining needed some extra raptor presence to keep the grackles away.   Later, evening patrols were started at the North end of the island.  The grackles were definitely across the harbor this time.  Hawks and equipment were kept out until dark to keep the message clear to the grackles that raptors are here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014:  Warm, mixed sun and clouds.  It was a warm day, and the entire area was busy with guests in the pool area and beach.  The raptors were set out and two were flown at a time.  The grackles were quite interested in eating guest's food.  But the previous day, I saw adult guests feeding sparrows.  So the pattern of humans feeding birds was quite established.  It was a busy day for staff, since the rainy weather during the week was putting a damper on pool and beach attendance.  The osprey was still in the tree, and was preening then left a short while later.  It seems to be better or maybe not ill at all.  All day, I was busy keeping the hawks in the air as deterrents, explaining the concept to guests.  One island resident said that a few grackles had returned to the North end of the island, so  evening patrols with flying hawks were a top priority.    We went to the end of the island, and with the hawk's presence, the grackles got the message and moved across the water.  A wedding was occurring on the beach that evening, so the moving of the hawks was delayed until the ceremony was over.  It was a clear night, so I could see some stars at night.    Something I really enjoy doing.  The hawks were safely put away for another day.   Sunday will likely be just as busy.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014.  Warm, mid-70-s,  mixed clouds and sun.  Set the raptors out to weather.  Then flew Harris hawks as deterrent flight around pool area.  A handful of grackles were showing up.  The weathering raptors took baths and enjoyed themselves.   Then in the afternoon, the falcons were put up and all of the Harris hawks were flown.   The flights were back and forth from tree to post which is an excellent presence of to the grackles and just plain fun to do for the hawks.  A bird was spotted in the tree above the beach area.  It is an osprey, and not looking well.  It was sleeping mid-day, not a good sign,  and looking listless.  It is too high in the tree to recover and a piece of uneaten fish was found under the perching bird.  In case it falls, security was informed as well as the local wildlife rehabber.  The osprey was checked after dark and it was still on the same branch.  I will look for the osprey in the morning again.      Items were organized, then evening patrols were done around the island.   Again, grackles were across the harbor, but are definitely more inland.  A good sign that they have changed the roosting pattern.  One resident on the island told us when he lived in Venezuela, he worked with Harpy eagles at a wildlife center there.   Residents also told us again as to how happy they are not to have the grackles making a mess on the island.  It is so nice to hear that the hard work is appreciated.   

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thursday, January 9th, 2014.  Cloudy, but no rain.  Just very light mists.   I set out all of the raptors to weather and bathe.    

Thursday, I made sure all of the raptors were able to weather and I flew two raptors as deterrent flights at the pool and beach area.  But, there were no grackles around.  I feel that the weather has a lot to do with it.   I took hawks around the key in their enclosures for evening flights to deter any roosting on the island.  I noted very few grackles across the key and   A friend who was in downtown told me that a large number of birds in the mainland area roosting in the trees that evening.  So, the grackles are starting to stay inland.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014:  Cloudy, rainy.  Early morning I saw two raptors.  A red shouldered hawk, and a peregrine falcon.   Then I saw a frigate bird, a large gull type bird with a forked tail.   The prior day I saw two peregrine falcons.  The smaller one sitting on the hurricane shutter.  Then a larger one (likely a female) flew up and they both called and flew south to the next island.  It started raining and threatened rain all day so, I brought out two hawks in their training boxes, ready for any deterrent flights around the pool and beach area.  I flew them several times briefly.  Then rains started later in the day, so I took them in for the evening.

On Wednesday there was a visit from Florida Fish and Wildlife.  The officer asked about the activities I was doing with the hawks,  That day I had only two birds out, due to the threatening rains.  He said that a resident had called about the abatement activities.  I mentioned that my permits were cleared when I was out in the spring and mentioned the officer's name.  He was satisfied with that and I was able to continue and get the two Harris hawks out for flights that day.

This is posted today due to not having internet access yesterday.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014.   Cold, breezy and cloudy.   I am glad that I cleaned yesterday and let the hawks bathe.  It has changed overnight from balmy to cool/cold.   But the hawks love this weather.  I let them all fly and they enjoyed flying all around the pool and park.   Very few guests were out, due to the coolness.  After a while, Some guests with children were eating outside and sure enough, the grackles knew that kids often feed wildlife and were hanging around the table.  I put all of the hawks up and the grackles moved away.  I would then rotate the grackles around.  As things slowed down int he pool area, I took a walk around the key to see what activity there was across the harbor with roosting and to look for droppings.  I found no droppings anywhere and no activity of roosting across the key.  But, impending weather is a big factor.   This morning,  (Wed.)  It is chilly, rainy and windy, I had to fold and drop the tables on the porch, due to them being blown around.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014:  Cloudy, rain in some area.   Mid-70's.  Cooler weather is arriving later on.  I set the hawks and falcons out and cleaned enclosures.  I changed into dry clothes (brought some down with me) after cleaning.   The grackles likely noted the wet hawks from showers and baths and started in at the pool area.  I got the driest one out and up in the trees, and the grackles soon dispersed.  I flew them one at a time, because I wanted the falcons to have a day out weathering and bathing as well.  They all enjoyed it.  Then, afternoon rains came in, I got wet getting the birds back in their enclosures,  and I had to change again.   After the rains,  The cooler weather arriving had made the grackles far less active.  So the hawks were flown for just a short time before dark.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 5th, 2014,  Sunday:

Warm, cloudy humid.  Harris hawks were brought to beach area, weighed and all were flown at once. They flew back and forth between the beach, pool and park.  Flying eagerly to the T post.  I took some photos which will be posted later.   After some time, I set the falcons out after putting the Harris' hawks in.  Residents and hotel gusts were always fascinated by this.  Some are coming every day to watch the hawks fly.  Then the winds picked up and I put them back in. A rain storm passed through and I  waited it out in the cabana.   I then set the falcons out again and was flying the one Harris hawk so that I can keep the birds away from the beach and pool area.  Then a second stronger squall came through,  I had put the birds back safe just in time.  I got soaked that time, so I went to my room and changed.   I came back out and again flew all Harris hawks at once.  They work so well together and the grackles stay away. A few crows came in to tease them, but they moved on.  Evening patrols were started and a few grackles were starting to hang around the residence.  But the vast majority have started roosting across the water.  I got out some falconry equipment to be made (replacement jesses, and leashes).  On the evening rounds, we were thanked for keeping the birds away by some of the residents.  I am glad to hear that.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014:

Cloudy, rain threatening all day.   Got the hawks out in the cabana area.   The beach and pool were quiet, the rain and clouds was keeping guests away.  I took the opportunity to fly 4 Harris; hawks at once and flew them around the beach area.  They really enjoyed working together, and they all landed in the palm tree.  I tried to get a photo of them all at once, but they were having too much fun flying around.  Needless to say, the grackles were gone while they were out.  Then some rains started, so I put them back, to keep them dry.   I then got them out after the rains stopped and flew all of them at once again.  I just love the harmony they exhibit when they fly together.  Guests and residents came over and were enjoying them flying as well.  On my way to my truck, I noticed a dead rat at the curb.  So I picked it up by the tail.  Wrapped it in newspaper and disposed of it in the trash.   I am so glad I found the rat before the hawks did.  Rodenticides used around the area are deadly to hawks and raptors through secondary poisoning.  I will keep diligent in looking for such dangers for the hawks.  This site:  explains the dangers of using rodenticides to our raptors, wildlife and pets.   At dusk,  I then went to the far side, near the residences.  The grackles were across the harbor, and rain was threatening.  So the hawks were positioned to keep them away and to have a 'presence' that is so important to change the roosting habits of the grackles.  As it got dark, they raptors were fed and put away for the evening.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014.  Cool, sunny in the am then got cloudy later on.  A refreshing day.  Got the birds out, waited for landscaping to finish up.  Then set them out at the beach.  I cleaned throughly their enclosures and around the cabana area. Got a lot done on such a cool day.   Grackles were staring to hang around the pool, so I rotated one hawk at a time, flying around the area.  The grackles stayed away. The winds picked up and whitecaps were on the water on the south side of the key.  I put the Hawks up and  Then we went out in the evening to the positioning area for the grackles that have moved across the harbor.  It also started getting cloudy and was a nice day to be out, cooler temps and lower humidity.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 2, 2014:   Sunny, bright mid-70's.

On my way to set up,  I observed the peregrine on his usual perch on the hurricane shutter.  He stayed there until about 11:00  The hawks were set out and showered.  I noted some bird activity around the pool and beach area.  So, I put one of the Harris hawks up and the grackles moved on.  I would put up the hawks, one at a time and the grackles got the message.  Guests enjoyed watching the mid-day bath and shower I give the hawks and falcons.  Often, the hawks will jump in their bath pans for a big soak and shower.  In the evening the hawks were taken to the residential areas.  Where the grackles were still  across the water at the harbor.   They still head over to the key but change their minds with hawks sitting the trees in the area.   Hundreds of them line up on the railing, then move to the trees.  The presence of the hawks, and the cart with their equipment is enough to keep them away until they settle in after dark.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 1st, 2014.  Partly could, light breeze, mid 70's

Set the birds out and the entire area was busy with guest's questions and inquiries.  I heard grackle activity around the pool at lunch, so I had two of the Harris hawks fly about to keep the grackles at bay.  The best thing is that I saw the peregrine again on the residence building.  He sat there for several hours, I again took time to show guests (two were avid birders) the peregrine through my spotting scope.    I also showed him to the employees as well.  The peregrine moved on. I put fresh telemetry batteries in the hawk transmitters and gave them a brief shower with the hose. Some hawks jump in their bath pans for a shower and bath.  The guests love watching this.  As I was flying the hawks around the pool.  I saw a string (kite string) caught in the palm tree to the ground.  It was hard to see unless there was just the right angle of sunlight.  I immediately pulled on it and it was attached to a kite stuck at the seawall.  I pulled, snapped the string. Leaving about a 6 foot strand waving in the wind of the palm tree.   This could have cut or one of my hawks if it had flown into it.  Earlier, I had been informed that some grackles were by the residences on key.  So evening patrols with two Harris' hawks were started there.  I saw again grackles flying in groups, but heading across the water to the mainland by the harbor.  I could see with binos, and hear their activities.   I flew the harris hawks close by to keep them from crossing the harbor.   Then waited for the night to fall.  After sundown,  I saw the peregrine fly right over me back to the key to roost.  So, I know my day has ended.