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The Modern Apprentice



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Most falconers take great pleasure in watching their birds as well as interacting with them. It has a its own vocabulary. For people who do not have birds, it can be difficult to picture what people are talking about or discussing without having seen the behavior in question.
Note: If video clips do not launch automatically on your machine, right-click the link and select Save Link As... to save the video clip locally. The clip can be saved to your desktop, double-clicked, and played from there.

Bate The action of the bird attempting to fly from a perch or the fist while attached by a leash. The bird may be startled and wanting to leave, may have seen something attractive and wanting to fly to it, or may be impatient to be flying or hunting.
       Bate video clip: 290 Kb

Bathe Getting into a bathpan and soaking her feathers. It is an important part of raptor husbandry to encourage a good soaking.
       Bathing video clip (short): 311 Kb        Bathing video clip (long): 1.9 meg

Bind To grab and hold; a bird can bind to quarry, a lure, or the falconer's hand.

Bob Up-and-down head movement showing interest; thought to be for judging distance to an object.
       Bobbing video clip: 862 Kb

Bowse To drink.
       Bowse video clip: 256 Kb

Cast There are several definitions of the word "cast". Here we are discussing the bird behavior, so cast here means to bring up the indigestible pieces of a meal. The casting is a round or oblong wad of feathers, fur, and bones which are left after the nutritious parts of a meal are digested.
       Cast video clip (head motions normal before casting followed by a bird casting - casting is from domestic white rabbit fur): 917 Kb

Cast off With the bird on the fist, this is the action of pushing it to be airborne.

Crouch The action of lowering the body and extending the wings slightly in anticipation of leaping into flight.
       Crouch video clip: 875 Kb

Feak The action of rubbing the beak against a surface to clean it; sign of content bird.
       Feak video clip: 1.1 meg

Foot To grab something with the foot and talons; this action is done to a lure or quarry to subdue or kill it.

Jokin (UK) Sleeping. Adult birds can sleep simply standing, but they typically tuck their heads beneath a wing appearing headless at first glance.

Laying Down Some birds, when very relaxed, will actually lay down. This is more often seen in immature or imprint birds, but some birds who are very comfortable in captivity will develop this as well.
       Laying down video clip: 1.2 meg
In this clip, notice how alert and aware the bird is. Laying down can signal illness in some birds, especially if the bird is dull or lacking energy. This bird is just very comfortable.

Mantle The action of stretching out the wings to hide food; there is a secondary meaning describing the action of stretching a wing and the same side leg out to one side of the body.
A Harris Hawk mantling over her food.
A Gyrfalcon mantling by stretching one wing and the same side leg.
       Mantle (hiding food) video clip: 526 Kb
       Mantle (stretch) video clip: 719 Kb

Mute Referring both to the fecal matter and to the act of defecating. To mute usually refers to falcons defecating while slicing (or propelling the matter out of the cloaca) refers to hawks, however the more common term mute is used as a general term for all. The dried white urates are also referred to as chalk or whitewash.
       Muting video clip: 694 Kb

Preen Straightening feathers with the beak; grooming; spreads oils over the feathers and conditions them; sign of a healthy bird.
       Preen video clip: 562 Kb

Put over The process of the bird moving the contents of her crop into her stomach; also called endew in the UK. A hawk has "put away her crop" when the crop contents have completely emptied into the stomach.
       Put over video clip: 869 Kb

Rouse The action of a hawk erecting its feathers and then shaking them; part of grooming; a sign of a relaxed and content bird.
       Rouse video clip: 637 Kb

Snite To sneeze

Stoop The act of a bird flying high in the sky folding her wings back and dropping quickly at a bird or the lure; stooping also is used to describe lure flying where the bird is stooped to the lure making repeated shots at a lure.
       Short line lure stooping - USAF cadet stooping a Gyr-Saker cross Stoop video clip: 318 Kb
       Pole lure stooping - master falconer Ron Kearney stooping a Peregrine to the lure Stoop video clip: 644 Kb
       Video courtesy of Bridget Rocheford

Vomit Vomiting looks a little like casting, but with multiple, small bits of food coming up out of the mouth. When we think of vomiting, we may think of being doubled over a sink, but the bird tends to remain standing rather erect, shakes her head and flicks food particles out of her mouth while drooling others.

Warble The action of stretching both wings up over the back simultaneously.
       Warble video clip: 436 Kb

There's really no term for this behavior, but immature birds, or birds acting like an immature or imprint, will sometimes exhibit immature behavior. One of these is head turning. Among passage taken birds, this is not typically seen unless the bird is a bit fat, very content, and feeling safe and playful. In this video clip the hunting dog is walking near the bird causing her to turn her head upside down and look at him from a variety of angles. One theory as to why a bird does this is that the bird has two fovea in her eye (one to focus on near objects and one for distant objects). She may be trying to examine the object through these two fovae.
       Head turning video clip: 595 Kb

All images and text Copyright © 2004 - 2020 - Lydia Ash