Daily Archives: September 4, 2008

falcons as starling control

(When the Barbary tiercel — a subspecies of the peregrine — looks the other way, the dog drinks his water.)

Instead of using traps, mylar strips, or plastic netting, Huntington Winery in Healdsburg hires a wonderful man named Jim to fly his falcons around the vineyard. The very presence of his birds keeps starlings at bay. (BTW, starlings are a 200-million-strong invasive species which threatens all sorts of crops from berries to orchards to grapes.)

I know PETA types might raise their hackles over falconry. They don’t like the Iditarod, either. But, first off, both of these things (falconry and Iditarod) are really, really cool — the type of adventurous pastime that manages to inspire wide-eyed young children and scowling cynical adults alike. Secondly, I happen to find a working relationship between man and animal wholly respectable — the animals are truly doing what they love in both cases — and after spending time with falconers and mushers, I’d be hard-pressed to name folks who love their animals (birds and dogs) more.

Anyway, a story about falconry in vineyards (written by yours truly) will run in the New York Times Windsor Times today. Before you get the chance to pick up the paper, feast your eyes on these beautiful birds:

Above, the falcon is exhibits a behavior known as mantling — covering her “prey” after a “kill.” In this case, the prey is a lure (swung on a rope by the handle on the lower left), and no killing actually took place.

Below, Strega the Lanner Falcon, and beneath her, Ros the Saker Falcon.

OK, enough gawking. Back to the farmy stuff: stay tuned for the next post on Foggy River.

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