Yarak: from Persian یارکی (yârakî, “power, strength, ability, boldness”)

Yarak: from Persian یارکی (yârakî, “power, strength, ability, boldness”)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Homeward bound

So it seems despite being a particularly 'special' owl, often showing little evidence of intelligence, the long eared little lad turned up this morning tired and very squeeky. Poor thing. He made it back though. This is wonderful news as I think a few of our regular customers and the staff's hearts would have broken if he'd been lost.

Moral of the story: plenty of walks around the surrounding area of home can be great for unforseeable moments in a bird's life where flight of fancy (literally) can leave them wanting for a map.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


The long eared owl flew away in the middle of his feed fly today. He commonly throws an attitude when display flying however he has never flown off. It was my first time flying him and having imprinted very strongly on another member of staff, I worry it may be due to an unfamiliar handler. He is so small and to be honest, a little simple- I'm worrying how he'll fare if it rains tonight. I spent a couple of hours walking the farmlands, waving a chick in one hand and calling him in an australian'esque accent (a voice and tone he is accustomed to) to no avail. The search continued after my shift had finished but no luck so far.

He is a beautiful character and a definate crowd pleaser, his bold personality in such a small form usually providing plenty of laughs. He is adored by his handlers. I hope so much to wake to a call that he is back with a hunger tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

First attempts: Jesses

I've been learning so much with the position at the barn, and I've only finished my third day of work!

There is so much to know and yet so much more of my development will be through instinct. I'm provided with formal knowledge of knots, feeding and weighing, handling techniques and training as well as maintainance and making of equipment; yet I am learning more and more that my mentors know what they do based more on experience than anything you can read in books. I've decided to keep a diary of the things I pick up along the way, maybe others will be able to use this... if not, I'm sure my feeble memory will appreciate it! Its also a fun way to capture the days spent in a somewhat personal dream job!

So without further ado; today I spent a morning and most of an afternoon with the leatherworking tools out. Some of the larger birds (harris hawks, falcons, barn owls) are in need of new jesses, either due to hardening with age or bathing, elongation as the leather gives and is bated on and in a few cases twisting of the leather. The twisting is common with kip leather jesses and can be particularly irritating when the birds bate from the fist, tangling and making things fiddley. Kangaroo leather does not do this, it remains straight even when aged, stretched out and repeatedly wet. It also happens to be very expensive, which means sometimes thin cow hide is resorted to; in the hopes good treatment and maintainance will suffice.

It was raining very heavily today so I was set about producing somewhere near to 10 pairs. We should have plenty to last us for a while, kangaroo leather or non.

Here are some photos of the jesses prior to oiling with neatsfoot oil. They are a first attempt and the tapering of the tips, spacing of swivel holes and thickness of the stop knots are still being tuned up! However, having had a burly man reef on the knots today makes me think our birds won't be breaking these anytime soon.