Day 9

HE FINALLY ATE! I was getting really really worried about him, I’m so relieved that he’s finally eating. At the same time, I’m pretty angry with myself and disappointed because my sponsor was the one who got him to eat. He came over at around 5:30, about a half-hour after dark, and we went into the mews to find that Atlas had already gone to bed. We woke him up and Dennis put him on his glove and brought him outside. He grabbed the half of a quail he had left over from flying his Goshawk on his way to my house and we went and sat under a porch light on my back deck. We both tried to look away, since staring at the bird can After a few minutes with no success, he elevated his hand on an air conditioning unit and kept the bird farther away from his body and was able to raise the meat closer to the birds face. We both looked away and after about a minute she took a bite! After that she pretty much ate the entire half a quail in less than 10 minutes.

Finally! Atta boy.

Despite my relief at the fact the bird was eating, I couldn’t help but feel like I was useless and dumb and a bad falconer and that I would never be able to train this bird if I couldn’t even get him to dig into a nice bloody quail. I saw how subtle the differences were between what Dennis and I had done; if falconry was all about those subtle differences, how was I ever going to be successful? If I were to offer any helpful advice to potential falconers, at this point I would say that if anything like this happens to you, the absolute LAST thing you should do is beat yourself up or get discouraged. The whole reason a sponsor is a legal requirement before getting a license is because of things like this. Being a falconer is such a fine skill, an art even, that it would be impossible to learn all the nuances and important subtleties that make it what it is. These are valuable learning experiences and you should be happy you’re getting the help you need, not upset that you didn’t magically know everything you needed to know about falconry from that one book you read. Don’t lose faith and keep working at it.

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