Okay, this is a fact some people may judge me on, or disagree with, but im going to be honest. It is not known by many that when i was younger Me and a friend of my family used to go hunting. Not with guns, with the birds above, Harris Hawks. This was not for fun, or our personal enjoyment. It was because the man i used to go with believed that if there was two options, buying pre killed food for his bird that didn’t have a chance, or letting the bird hunt on vermin and pests with a fair chance, the later was preferable.
I am not going to say i didn’t enjoy it on some level, but not because of some twisted blood sport satisfaction. Rather because like watching a nature documentary, it was interesting to get an insight into how the natural world works. Harris hawks in particular are a strange bird. Most birds of prey hunt alone, and live fairly solitary lives (apart from breeding couples). But the Harris hawk doesn’t, they live, work and hunt together. This allows them to take bigger prey, and share what ever is caught. When we went to farms to help get rid of the pests that plagued the crops, our birds generally went for rabbits, and they did catch some, but they rabbits had a considerable chance of getting away if they went to ground at any point. I remember vividly, as i was only about 14 at the time, the first time i saw a rabbit get caught. Now in documentaries, its always a silent process. Bollocks, while it is quick, rabbits make a hell of a noise when caught. It was horrible, but in my mind infinitely better than poisoning them, which intern poisons everything down the food chain. I havent been in years, but i think it was an interesting learning experience.
Another thing that Makes the harris hawk strange is its “stacking”, behavior. This is where they stand on each others backs. Interestingly the birds towards the bottom are usually the more dominant. This is further helped by the fact that a harris hawk has the ability to chose weather it wants to dig in its talons at will, unlike other birds of prey. This means they dont hurt their comrades, but also can lead to what our bird liked to do, Landing on my head.