Tag Archives: falconry

My 100th Post: The Best Of Blog Tour

This is my 100th post, and so I have decided to try and get 100 views to my blog today!  I have been failing to have much traffic lately, barely a handful of viewers per post, which means that even my dear friends and family may not be reading anymore.  It’s ok, I still love you – but I want you back!

The goal of 100 views is perhaps a too high, since so far the only post of mine which has gotten close to that was my Eurovision post on Conchita Wurst, and that got 90 views that day.  And that was only because of random people who had searched for the busty Polish girls and instead got my post.  Sorry, fellas.

So I’m going to have to try really hard to get people interested in the nonsense I spew forth from my keyboard.  Let’s just consider this post a Best Of Blog tour, in the hopes that at least some of what I write is appealing to the general public.

Every post you read gets me one step closer to 100!  So click away!!  Read, enjoy, or roll your eyes and look at pictures of hilarious animals instead.  Just do it after you click.

So perhaps you’re reading this because you like writing, and that is what this blog is supposed to be about.  Maybe you want to read topical posts like Worldbuilding with my discussion of Ursula Le Guin’s awesomeness or The Mirror of Fantastic Vanity in which I call out Neil Gaiman.

Or maybe you, like myself, struggle with finger-stalling brain-demons and would appreciate Mental Bran Flakes.

Perhaps, instead, you’re only here because I have Facebook press-ganged you into it, or a friend of a friend has posted this link.  In that case, maybe you’d rather read something random and potentially humourous like The Spider and the Flute: a sleep-deprivation-inspired tale of arachnid tragedy about which critics, by which I mean the only person who commented (looking at you, md456), have proclaimed: “I have not felt this sympathetic for a spider since Charlotte’s Web.” Or maybe Hobbies, or “the tale of the boob coaster” where I had an R-rated yarn-craft disaster.

Are you one of my falconry friends?  Or have a passing interest in things raptorial?  How about A Falconry Rant where I bitch about the ignorant masses at my old job as a display falconer, The Austringer’s Lament where I wax lyrically about the hunt, or There’s No Such Thing as a Stupid Question – No Wait, There is where I give up on people in general as having common sense at all.

Maybe you’ve read all these before because you’re my mother and read everything I ever post (I love you!), or maybe you’ve never read any of them and have a new-found appreciation or concern for my mental state.  Whatever the case, thank you for taking the time to read what I write.

This will also be a test of how far this platform reaches.  I have decided that the avenue of self-publishing is the only way for a new writer to break into the industry currently, as much as I long to one day hold one of my books in solid printed paper.  So without the weight of a traditional publisher behind me I will be needing to do all my own marketing and advertising, and that’s the real reason I created this blog.  An author needs to be in charge of her own online presence and so this kind of self-advertisement, however uncomfortable it makes me, is part of the game.

So read, my pretties, read!

Hipster Collie Approves

There’s No Such Thing As A Stupid Question – No, Wait There Is

Oddball display

These girls can’t wait to ask awkward questions.

I work at a raptor display centre, as you might or might not know.   That means that my job is to educate the illiterate masses on birds of prey, their habitat, capabilities and conservation.  It also means answering hundreds of questions, most of which prove that no one actually listens to me during my displays!  I really don’t mind answering any and all questions, as I said my job is to educate people, but there have been a good few whoppers over my time here which have left me a bit flabbergasted.  Here are the top five stupid questions, increasing in stupidity as we go:

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Why do you poo, Lump?

5) “Why do they poo?”  EVERY time I take birds, mainly owls, to a school or childrens’ group for a talk they will inevitably poo on the floor dramatically (the birds, that is, not the kids… as far as I know, at least).   Children love this, it leads to peals of laughter and awkward questions about pooping.  Makes me want to write a new version of that “Everybody Poops” book, called “Yes, Owls Poop, Get Over It” – I think it’ll be a best-seller!

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Will he come back, really? Damn straight he will!!

4) “Do the birds come back?”  This is a really common one, usually asked of me when I’m walking past park visitors either just after or just before flying a bird.  They see what I’m carrying and then can’t really seem to understand the concept of a trained bird of prey, thinking that once given freedom these birds just fly off never to be seen again.  I can’t really imagine what they must think we do to keep the same number of birds every day, do they think we just replace them daily?  Disposable hawks, what a horrid concept and sadly how some so-called “falconers” operate!

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Don’t be fooled, it’s meat he wants!

3)  “So what do you feed them, milk?”  This delightful question I actually got more than a few times during the late summer when we were imprinting the young barn owls.  For some reason members of the public seemed to think because they were  cute (well I think they were cute, others disagree about the aesthetic appreciation of a baby barn owl) and fluffy that they must be bottle-fed milk like all the other little fluffy things people adore.  From their first meal to their last, it’s only meat they can digest.  Granted for the earliest life stages the mother will tear up little bits of it, but that’s all they eat.  Owls are predators, people seem to forget this with all the owl-mania currently happening in modern society today.   All I can say is that if you’d like to try to milk an owl, go ahead!  I dare you!

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Speaks volumes without words!

2)  “How many words does he know?”  My coworker got this one after a display with a Harris Hawk.  I think that when we explain how intelligent these hawks are that some members of the public assume they’re glorified parrots, as they have no other basis for comparison when it comes to intelligent birds.  This might be part of the problem we’re facing when it comes to the private ownership of Harris’, since perhaps the average person has no idea what they actually are and require, thinking they must be able to treat them like a cage bird, especially as they’re no more regulated in this country than your tyical budgie.  However, I have to say that our Harris Hawks know a lot of words, sadly they all sound like “WAAAAAAAAAAAAGHH!”

And finally:

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If it sits like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s Boris.

1)  “Was Boris raised by ducks, and is that why he quacks?”  Boris is our Steppe Eagle, and his usual vocalisation does indeed sound like a quacking duck.  But, no.  A world of no.

Just no.

The Austringer’s Lament

A call sounds out, and the Goshawk draws himself up to attention – he knows what it means.  That is the crow of a cock pheasant, a noise that signals autumn, the countryside and, in our case, the hunt.  His eyes, always scathing with orange fire, sharpen further.  We follow the sound and as we do he tenses, waiting.

Our quarry comes into view ahead of us, heads down and oblivious to our arrival.  I take a few hurried steps, but the Goshawk is impatient.  To wait any longer might give our position away, as my footfalls are far noisier than the hush of a predator’s wingbeats.   Pushing off my glove, he explodes into action.  He arrows towards the birds and they don’t even look up as he glides towards them, wings held still, trying for ultimate stealth.  He’s a grey ghost, a phantom; he’s death itself in winged form.

At the last moment, the pheasants see him.  They flush noisily and head for the nearest cover.  The Goshawk sees this and takes a new tactic.  He’s an old bird, canny with experience.  Instead of pursuing in a straight line, he suddenly arcs high above them.  Turning, he dives, stoops like a falcon, into the cover where they have just put in.  His impact makes the foliage shudder and I’m already running, anticipating a kill.

But before I can take more than five steps, there are birds leaping into the air again. First the red-brown cock birds and dull-tan hens, then the steel grey of the Goshawk.  He hadn’t managed to connect, or hold, in the cover, and my heart sinks.  He’s too far behind, and both of us know he won’t catch up.  He glides down into the field, defeated.  I bring out the lure, and whistle.

Within moments he’s returning to me.  I take a moment to simply watch his approach, to find myself the object of his burning gaze.  It’s unsettling in a way that makes my heart leap and my lips curve in a smile.  I swing the lure up to meet his outstretched talons and he takes this, at least, to ground in a tight grip.

I can feel his frustration, I can read it in his stance, his repeated footing of the lure, so I make in slowly for the trade off.  After a moment of tension, the Goshawk is sat on my glove again and I know that will be the last flight of the morning, as our stolen hour of dawn before I have to work comes to an end.  His meal today will not be the hot fresh meat he craves, but he tears into what I offer without hesitation.

Sometimes the hunter loses the hunt, this is the austringer’s lament, but there will be other quarry.  Flights like the one I witnessed, however, are beautiful and unique.  I have never felt more alive, more aware of my surroundings and also a part of that very landscape than when I pursue wild quarry with a trained predator.  This is what the Goshawk was born to do, and I’m just a privileged spectator he deigns to allow to assist him.

A Falconry Rant

At least once a day in the busy season, if not twice or more, I’ll overhear a particular comment as members of the public drift by to see the birds at our mews.  It’s usually some variation of, “Oh, now this I don’t like to see.”  And inevitably followed by some dramatic statement about how, “They’re chained to their perches, and not allowed to fly!   How cruel!”

Now usually I’m just out of eyesight of these people, and to address their comments directly is often impossible, or at the very least a bit creepy as I burst from the weigh room going, “Well, about that!”  So I generally go up to the fence and cheerfully ask if anyone has any questions.  Inevitably, the sort of person who’s vocal enough about their views to have made a comment in the first place will also be vocal about the perceived cruelty they’ve judged, in their ignorance, to be in front of them.  Their subtlety ranges from the careful: “How long do the birds sit out here like this?” to the blunt: “Isn’t it cruel to leave them on their perches all day?”

My current tactic has been a sort of upbeat, hyper-education in which I smile widely (this would be their cue to run), and start in about a wild raptor’s day-to-day life.  How catching prey uses so much energy that they need to conserve it for the chase.  The concept that they don’t spend their whole day swooping and diving just for the heck of it often comes as a surprise to these misinformed members of the public, unsurprisingly.

I tell them how our birds do get to fly, every day, in safe and controlled conditions.  To let all of our birds loose at once would result in a very messy end!  And that ones’ domestic dog needs a lead for its, and other dogs’, safety, so how is it very different?

I then go on to relate anecdotes about the time our Barn Owl, Louise, picked her knots and was free on the lawn one day – and promptly put herself in her mews to sleep.  Since they do fly free each day, if they didn’t like their living conditions they would just fly away!

Then I invite them to tell me if they’ve seen any wild birds of prey, and inevitably they’ll have seen a buzzard.  Who hasn’t?  I tell them how buzzards have become so lazy that they will often sit, for hours, on fenceposts by the sides of busy roads to wait for road kill, so that they don’t even have to put themselves through the bother of actually catching their own prey at all.

Sometimes they hear one of our birds shouting, and make an off-hand comment, “Oh he’s not happy.”  As if they know this after a five-minute observation of raptor behaviour.  I laugh, not cruelly at their expense, rather as a chuckle of long-sufferance from many, many hours of listening to all the screams, hoots and warbles that is the background music to my days.  I translate the call they’ve commented on, and then go on to talk about that bird’s personality, and relate stories of its hijinks.  They all have hijinks, it’s not hard to think of amusing ones to tell.

Generally by this point, the people who first saw rows of “chained” birds (where are the chains, I ask you?) forced to sit on perches all day now start to see the relaxed postures, the raised legs and preening.  The veil of outrage has lifted and their powers of observation start to return.  Sometimes they leave soon after, before I force more education into their closed minds, but other times they stick around and watch indulgently for a while.

There’s always the odd person who will never agree with us, because obviously they would know better than the people who make caring for birds of prey their life’s work.  Sure, we can agree to disagree.  Or rather, I can agree that you’re willfully ignoring the facts just to suit your self-righteous outrage.  Enjoy that.

But thankfully most people are happy to be informed otherwise, and I invite them to watch our birds flying free and see how the bond between falconer and bird works.  How impossible it would be to do what I do if I thought there was any cruelty to it.  We all come to this work from a love of these birds, and admiring their wild cousins, and we want to ensure their lives are just as good.  More so, since there’s no fear of starvation or an injury that wouldn’t be treated.

So when you say you “don’t like to see this”, I tell you to first try and actually understand what’s in front of you.  Ask us questions, and listen to our answers.  If you’re still outraged, well then please leave and maybe we won’t mind if you never come back!

Falconry For The Modern Girl

I think I’ve worked out what I’ll write for NaNoWriMo this year, since I’ve been looking over my notes for The Falconer’s Apprentice and I really don’t think I’ll do it justice in a month.  Instead I plan to write a semi-autobiographical piece called Falconry for the Modern Girl because a lot of people ask me how I got into being a falconer in the first place.

I hate to say it, but I feel like this is a good project because it might have marketable appeal.  As much as I enjoy writing for writing’s sake, if I could get a book published it would make a huge difference in me and the Husband’s life right now.  It might mean the difference between him working the shitty hotel job he hates, which keep us from seeing each other for days at a time, and him pursuing either a PhD or teaching degree which he’d really love to do.

So this book will follow my progress from the very first cold December morning when I nearly fainted when gutting chicks for the first time, to being thrust into running the centre on my own after mere months of training, to deciding to train the Goshawk to hunt, the joy and exhiliration of when he made his first kill with me – and any other adventures which will follow in November.  There will also be random chapters thrown in about the research I’ve been doing into medieval falconry, perhaps other people’s experiences if they wish to relate them to me, and general stuff about the various birds we have at the centre for background information.

Because of its auto-biographical nature I think this will be a great train-of-thought project which I won’t become too stressed or frustrated by.  The main point is to just make myself write again in a routine so as to force myself back into a disciplined mindset again, and the secondary point is to write an interesting book about a subject not many have the insight or opportunity to write about.

In Which A Dame Is Joined By A Gentleman

I’ve found another old falconry text via internet sources, this one a 1619 Treatise on Hawkes and Hawking by Edmund Bert, gentleman, as he insists upon on the cover page.  It begins with a letter to the Right Honourable Henry, Earl of Oxenford, Viscount Bulbecke, Lord Salford and Scales, and Lord Great-Chamberlaine  of England – our Gentleman’s patron – in which many proclamations of loyalty and love inform us that this book is actually a “testamony of my love, before I die,  which shall remain as a perpetual memorial of my ever-devoted service”.

This letter in itself is interesting since it tells us why Bert chose to write this Treatise, not only why he wrote a book at all on his deathbed but why he chose the subject of falconry.  Bert apologises to his patron no few times for the “slight” subject, and that it is “not weighty (being but a treatise of Sport)”, so one could wonder why a man in his inferior position would hazard to dedicate something he considers so meager a subject to his rather imposingly titled Right Honorourable Henry, Earl, etc., etc., in the first place.

Edmund Bert has been fighting some dehabilitating sickness for three years, as it becomes clear in later portions of the text, in which time he has been unable to keep hawks or hunt with them.  So he chooses to devote himself to this subject so he can “run back into my younger years, to summon the delights of my able youth, together with the fruits of my more experienced age.”  It’s easily imagined why he would want to recall the prime of his life when so near its end and unable to devote himself physically to it.

The book that follows tells us of Bert’s particular knowledge of falconry, and he makes a point of telling us that this is all his original work, nothing copied from previous texts (perhaps a dig at our Dame Bernes, who we believe copied several sections from older French manuscripts).  Bert makes many cofindent claims in how to train hawks, including a chapter on “how to make a hawk hood well that will not abide the sight thereof, and (how disorderly so-ever she might be) it shall be effected in forty-eight hours and less than forty bates.”

The first chapters are concerned with the ageless questions of: should you get a hawk or tiercel (female or male), and at what age should it be trapped (if falconry is practiced by taking wild birds, of course, wherein in modern British practice the same question is put to whether the captive bred birds should be parent-reared or imprints).  Bert spend a long time explaining that Haggards (birds older than a year, who have been living wild and hunting for themselves) are a bad idea, being too used to being unrestrained to submit to a falconer. Then he moves on to “Rammish” hawks, about which he says “there is small difference between the Haggard and the Rammish, only the Rammish has had less time (by preying for herself than the other) to know her own strength and worth, but in manning and making her I will set down my whole practice.”  I’m not sure if this is just the current term for a Brancher – a bird that has fledged – and closest to the modern concept of a parent-reared bird.  It would make the most sense to me, so I’ll assume so!

Lastly he talks about the Eyas hawk – what we would call an imprint – about which he prefaces his chapter: “Of the Eyas hawk, upon whom I can fasten no affection, for the multitude of her faults and follies.”  He tells us “they are so foolish in their first year they will hardly be taught to take a bough well” and “I have known some of them likewise that would sooner catch a dog in the field than a patridge” and also ” and many of them will cry as loud as you, as you will speak to them.”  All basically true, yes, but modern falconry has become just as enamoured of imprints as parent-reared birds when trained right.  Bert admits that with the right training these birds “may be ranked among the best in the highest degree” and also that they “will live longer than any of the rest, she is not apt to be sick or surfeit so soon.”

Needless to say, I’ve added Edmund Bert, gentleman, to my sources on falconry in the middle ages, even is 1619 is technically a good 200 years past the time period.  Frankly, I’m just tired of struggling through Middle English!

At some point I’ll need to stop researching and just start writing (no, the vignette I posted a bit of some weeks ago doesn’t count as the actual novel – it was written well before I started this research, and it’s horrendously incorrect in several things), but I’m still wanting to find more general sources on the time periods I hope to be working within.  At least this keeps me busy – as if my life weren’t busy enough, that is!

What’s A Dame To Do?

I’m incredibly intrigued by this Boke of St Albans.  As I mentioned in my previous post, it was written in 1486.  It’s a text, in three chapters, on Hawking, Hunting and Heraldry.  But, amazingly, it was written by a woman!  A Dame Julyans (“Juliana”) Barnes, whose title “Dame” did not, at the time, actually denote nobility in the 15th century, rather it was to say “Mistress” or “Mrs”.

But how strange for us to think of a 15th century “Mrs. Barnes” being a widely-published authoress in such masculine subjects!  But she had no few contemporary authoresses who wrote on many subjects from hunting to politics and so forth, so it’s really just our own projected misconceptions about the time period which make us think so!

It’s intrigued me, and now I’m thinking how it would be to incorporate into The Falconer’s Apprentice the storyline of a woman like our “Dame” who challenges such preconceptions of ours.  A hawking, hunting, politically-aware ordinary woman of the fictional middle ages!

But even apart from the authoress, this is a really interesting text especially for a modern falconer.  The practices it calls for are those we would immediately call inhumane or barbaric – such as the practice of sewing the eyelids shut of a newly-trapped young bird; peculiar – such as getting rid of lice by wrapping a hawk in a hot cloth to draw the beasties out; or outright bizzare – such as promoting “mewing” (moulting) in a hawk by giving “chickens which have been fed on wheat soaked in broth of vipers”.

I have to note, however, that reading the 19th century part of the text is giving me a headache.  Not because of the language or anything, but because it’s a manuscript which uses those antique f’s as s’s, and in my mind the whole thing is being read aloud with a lisp!!!

Brief Update, Research and Impatience

I’m still working on this Falconer’s Apprentice idea, and I’m trying to go about it sensibly.  Very difficult, indeed!  I’m planning to do considerable research, and have found a pdf of an 19th century reproduction of a book written in 1486 on hawking, The Boke of St Albans, which I hope will provide me with enough background on how falconry was actually practised in the middle ages – thus giving me some semblance of chronological credibility!

I’m still trying to work out whether this will be a fantasy story or historical fiction.  Currently I’m just seeing what will happen.  I’m thinking that this could easily be merely one plotline amongst the backdrop of many, and thus have the scope to create a widely explored fictional realm.  Again, whether or not that incorporates fantasy elements, I’m still not sure.  As you may know, I’m always drawn to fantasy so it’s likely it could happen, but it would need to occur organically.

I forsee some trouble for a story with such scope, though, and that’s something which lies in me alone and not the story itself; I’m impatient.  I’m terrible at taking my time with my novels, always wanting to rush ahead to the most important conflicts, and thus everything always reads as rushed and not properly thought-out.  I hope this project can help me work on that!  I’m excited to write it, though, and that’s something I haven’t felt since before the Summer of Creative Absence.

I might forgo this year’s NaNoWriMo, however, if I’m busy working on this story.  I’ve written NaNo novels in the past two years, but I feel that the type of writing I was doing for them is exactly the kind of rushed, poorly thought-out stuff I’m trying to avoid with this story.  But I hope that I can maintain the discipline of writing substantially every day which NaNoWriMo really helped me get into the pattern of doing.

And now I must be off, go to my amazing day job and frolic with falcons!  I kind of love my life.

Fantastic Bullshitting and a New Story: The Falconer’s Apprentice

I’m sure you’ve heard the age-old advice people give to writers: ‘Write what you know.’  Now this doesn’t really apply to fantasy writers, because let’s face it no one knows squat-diddly about dragons or magic or elves or whatever.  No, instead of writing what you know, fantasy writers have another, more applicable mantra:

“Bullshit really really well.”

It’s all about bluffing, because so long as you can be convincing enough for readers to believe it actually happened no one actually cares if you’re 100% accurate.

Or so I’m hoping.

I’m actually planning to write something based on both writing mantras, for the subject of this latest endeavor is falconry.  But the bullshitting will come into play because obviously I know modern techniques and in a mediaeval fantasy time period they don’t have cable ties and radio telemetry.

So here’s the beginning of The Falconer’s Apprentice:

*

Tommas was feeling deflated, odd in a boy as large as himself. The days leading up to today had been full of excitement as he readied the preparations for what was to come. But now that it was here, and the long-awaited event had passed, Tommas was left feeling cheated.

He’d waited for this day to arrive for six years, ever since he was sent as an apprentice at the age of eight. His master was an imposing man, stern of eye and implacable when it came to detail, but then he had to be; he was the Master Falconer to their liege lord. And as his apprentice, Tommas had done all and more that was required of him, from scraping hawk shit off the walls to being bitten and footed by hungry falcons when attending their needs. Even so, it was two years before he was allowed to enter the mews where the birds perched, alert and wary of his strange presence. Two more before he was allowed to pick one up. And after another two, he was to be given his own bird to train and care for.

That day was today. But it was not as he imagined.

‘What’s that you’ve got there, boy? A blue-tit for catching flies?’ The men loitering outside the smithy laughed and jeered as he came near. Tommas ground his teeth, but kept quiet.

‘Raffe!’ called the Master Smith when he saw the falconer’s apprentice. His own apprentice answered his call, popping up greasy-haired and coal-streaked from the bowels of the smithy.

‘Tommas, let’s see it!’ the lanky other boy’s face lit up when he saw his friend approach. He knew what day it was. But as Raffe approached, he saw what sat upon Tommas’ gauntleted fist and frowned. ‘Is that it?’

Tommas sighed.

‘You know,’ one of the loiterers called to the townspeople who had started to gather round to see what their laughter was about, ‘they say the size of a man’s hawk tells you the size of his prick!’ The crowd roared with laughter.

‘Well,’ Tommas blustered, red-faced, ‘I’ll have you know it’s a falcon, not a hawk.’

‘Yeah,’ chimed in Raffe, ‘it’s opposite with falcons, you see.’ That just raised a louder roar of hilarity.

‘You’re not helping,’ the large boy groaned.

‘Sorry,’ his friend grinned. ‘Come inside and tell me everything.’

*

Cocky young Tommas is obviously less than pleased with the bird he’s given, but the Kestrel was historically the bird of servants and apprentices.  The conflict of the story will be when his master is given the task of training a young Gyrfalcon destined to be given to the King,  and Tommas steals it for himself.  As this would probably be considered a hanging offence, my task is to now work out plot-wise what this cheeky boy is planning to do now he’s got himself into heaps of trouble.

Eventually he’ll find that the Gyrfalcon is pretty but useless, and the Kestrel he’s abandoned stays his loyal companion and keeps them all from dying of hunger whilst on the run, even if they’re only eating mice and field voles.

The moral of the story: don’t be a twat.

Survival Instinct

Firstly, I have just come out the other side of those atrocious Twilight books – one week of my life I’ll never get back.  Sheesh, I forgot how utterly ridiculous that final book is.  “Renesmee”??  Please.

In other news, I am currently trying to fight against my survival instincts.

You may or may not know that my day job is that of a falconer-in-training.  I basically spend my days feeding carnivorous birds scraps of meat while they fly around, trying to make sure my fingers don’t get in the way – and more recently, failing at just that.

First, some background information.  Owls don’t have great eyesight for things close to them – why would they need it, in the wild their prey is noisy rodents who give away their position with sound.  But obviously, what we feed our owls is dead already.  So what we do is place a bit of food in our palms, stretch our hands flat and try our best to aim for their beaks.

As a result, I now have a series of large owl-bites covering my right palm and fingers.

Yeah, that hurt.

The stupid thing is that my survival instinct is actually what’s getting me injured just now.  I feel the urge to pull away too quickly from the large, gaping beak of the owl in question – which in turn makes her miss the bit of food and get my flesh instead.

The culprit - an owl named Lump. She might look all cute and junk, but that's a mighty large beak.

So how do you train yourself to stop listening to your own survival instincts?  Especially when they’re wrong and in fact preventing the survival of your badly battered fingers??

I have a plan.  It involves cheating.

During the winter I used these fingerless fleece gloves to combat the freezing temperatures, yet leaving my fingertips free to do all the knots and nonsense I need to do.  Now, the problem with these is that sometimes when feeding the owls they caught the fingerless glove as well as the food – and once something is in their beaks they don’t want to give it up.  So the second part of my plan involves somehow layering some thin leather over the palm of the glove.  We have a bunch of leather at work, which we use to make jesses, anklets and the like, so I have a supply of that.  So I can reinforce the palm of my glove so that it’s not something they can bite into.

And thus save my poor little fingers.

I know I get braver when there’s something covering my vulnerable flesh, so the idea is that by doing this for a while I’ll get the confidence to override my survival instinct.  Eventually I won’t need the glove, and I’ll be able to feed large bitey owls safely.

In the meantime, I am well stocked with plasters/bandaids and antiseptic wound spray.