Hotline Photos

Prairie Falcon

21 Jul 2012
Murray, Utah

(E-mails from Paul Higgins, 21 Jul 2012)

I was in the Promintory Mountains yesterday, photographing Short-eared and Burrowing Owls. I observed four Prairie Falcons, one of which appears to have snares or maybe falconer's "jess's" on its legs. They made a metalic "clanking" sound as he flew.
Any information would be appreciated....

(Comment to Paul's gallery from James W. Ure, 21 Jul 2012)

Hi, Paul. Excellent photos. This was a falconer's bird. She is wearing jesses. This particular design of jess--called Almyri jesses--are quite ancient and designed so that as the bird preens it will be able to pluck free the long, dangling straps. In a close-up, you'll notice a "button" of leather right next to the leg. This can be pulled through, removing the leather strap completely. Then only the leg rings will remain. For now there is some modest danger in that the trailing leather could catch on something. However, a great many falconers have lost birds like this one and the birds have done very well in the wild. I have friends who have re-trapped birds they had lost years before. It is unusual to see a pure prairie falcon being flown as a falconry bird these days (And this appears to be a pure prairie, probably a female from the look of the size). Most falconers are flying captive-bred hybrids--peregrine/gyrfalcon crosses. They get the lovely lacey flight of the peregrine with the power of the gyr. Love your pictures. I frequently marvel at your work.

         Photos by Paul Higgins    ŠPaul Higgins

  Photos by Paul Higgins    ŠPaul Higgins

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