The Guddi and the Hood
What follows is a description of one method of taking up and initiating the training of a ramage aplomado. This method can be a very effective starting point for formal training whether or not preceded by the process of tempering. The following description is not meant to imply that using a guddi to hood-train is the only course one should follow.
A brief historic perspective on the use of the guddi must include mention of other methods of restraint used in training hawks and falcons. To avoid bogging down with dates, mention will only be made to general regions and approximate timelines.
Perhaps the earliest form of restraint for early training (beyond to the restraint provided by jesses and leash) was the process of seeling the lids of the newly trapped hawk’s eyes shut so in the earliest stages of training there would be no bating or misbehavior. By the time the seels either broke through the tissue of the lower eyelid or were cut away, the hawk was adjusted enough to the feel the touch of and hear the sound of the falconer such that further manning could proceed with less trauma than if attempted fresh from the trap. The process was most likely initiated by the earliest falconers in Central Asia and the Middle East, but seeling found its way into other major falconry cultures including India and Europe. Over time it fell from favor in the European cultures, but endured in the eastern cultures where hawk trapping continued to be the staple of hawk procurement. Now in the modern times of captive breeding, seeling is little used, though those using it know it to still be a very effective, virtually painless and quite safe form of restraint.
Another approach to early manning is to begin with a well-fitted hood which will be worn from the trap until manning is complete, the hawk only being unhooded for periods of manning and feeding during the day. This is referred to as training “out of the hood” and again has ancient eastern origins and was traditionally employed by European falconers up until about WWII. The hood in this case was referred to as a “rufter.” It was simple, open in the back (so it was more of a mask than a hood) and was affixed with tied thongs rather than sliding braces. It was kept on the hawk’s head almost continually during the earliest days of captivity as an alternative to seeling. After initial handling was established, the rufter could be replaced by the traditional braced hood, which again would be worn almost continually, but could be easily removed and replaced during the training sessions each day. Once the hawk reached a point in her training where she could be called to the fist from the perch in broad daylight, weathering outside unhooded could be safely allowed and field training could proceed at a more accelerated pace.
A third variation of early training restraint was the wearing of a guddi or a brail. In both cases, the devices were used to prevent full use of the hawk’s wings so in early training bating was minimized or eliminated. The brail was a leather strap typically affixed to only one of the hawk’s wings, restricting, but not eliminating bating. The East Indians and Pakistani’s utilized the guddi, which was a cloth “cloak” completely encapsulating both wings such that the hawk was effectively straight jacketed. During this phase, the hawk remained unhooded for most of the time so it would observe and become habituated to its new surroundings. Often the hawk, typically a goshawk or another type of accipiter, was tethered (wearing the guddi) on a large straw mat in a public place, such as a market or village square, and under the watchful eye of the falconer was allowed (forced perhaps) to assimilate into human society.
The key to success using a guddi is understanding it can only be worn for a limited time (a week to ten days) and during this period manning and hood training must be carefully and diligently attended to so that when the guddi is removed the hawk is indeed fully manned and hoodable. After the guddi is removed, the training will resemble the traditional out of the hood approach for awhile (the hawk wearing the hood much of the time to further prevent mindless bating) and then, once the bird is flying to the fist indoors and out of doors with some reliability, weaning away from extensive time in the hood to more “normal” daily activities such as weathering, bathing, perching indoors unhooded, daily field training and ultimately active hawking.
Another key point is that while wearing the guddi, the hawk is very vulnerable and must be handled with great care and protected from any dangers. The guddi should not be placed on a bird that is to be kept in a cold environment because the bird cannot “fluff” its feathers properly on the back half of its body, nor can it stand on one foot and tuck up the other to help hold in body heat.
A third key point is weight control should not be attempted beyond noticing when the hawk is hungry and offering sufficient quantities of food throughout the day as training moments. To attempt to lower the hawk’s weight significantly may jeopardize its health because the weight of the guddi, which may vary depending on how much materials is used for wrapping, is difficult to accurately determine
Once a guddi is removed, manning transitions to out-of-the-hood training to ensure the now un-guddied hawk does not quickly revert to mindless bating during training. This phase should include periods during the day when the hawk is unhooded and encouraged to hop and then fly to the fist (calling off). Finally, when the lure is introduced and creance training commences, the hawk can spend more time out of the hood than in it because she is now past the trauma stage has never had the opportunity to begin mindless bating in response to handling. All this will not guarantee this hawk will never bate in the future, but if the hood is continually used with this hawk in a sensible manner it is certainly the most effective pathway to diminishing all but the most perfunctory and normal kinds of bating this bird will do.
Applying the Guddi
The traditional guddi was a fabric device. A light cotton “abba” can be sewn together and affixed only the wings (as opposed to around the entire body which many falconers use the abba for these days during casting for coping and other necessary operations). But a newer and better method, invented by Nelson, is to use the self-adhering Vet Wrap (Coban) to “tailor make” each guddi to the hawk’s wings. Since this is more easily illustrated than described, a step-by-step series of illustrations are provided to help guide the uninitiated through this process. The key will be combining the very least amount of wraps (to keep things light and comfortable) with the best fit (to prevent the hawk from slipping out of the guddi unexpectedly). Critical to health of the hawk, be cautious not to restrict the wings beyond their normal at-rest position which could potentially cause dangerous constriction of circulation of blood to the wings or at the very least cause extreme discomfort hindering rather than aiding the training process. An in-depth description on how to apply a Coban (Vetrap) guddi is included in my book: Hoods, Hooding & Hoodmaking.
Adjusting the Hawk to Life in the Guddi
Once in the guddi, the hawk must become adjusted to life without the use of her wings. She can no longer spread them to bate or fly and she can no longer flip them about lightly to help balance upon a perch. So, in the first hours and days of wearing the guddi, the hawk will have to come to grips with the fact it cannot rid itself of the device and must learn to function as normally as possible with it on.
The quickest route there will be time alone. Therefore, after the guddi has been applied, the hawk should be secured to the center of a mat surface extensive enough such that the hawk cannot reach the edge at full extension of her tethers and legs (see illus.). At first, there should be no items on this mat to collide with or become entangled in, so there will be no perch or bath pan involved. Also, there will be no food offered initially. The first meal the new hawk takes will be directly handed to her by you as a peace offering once she has calmed down enough to focus on eating. Finally, there must be sufficient light for the hawk to clearly see her surroundings in order to learn how to function as normally as possible within the restrictions imposed by the guddi. See Equipment and Facilities page at this website.
Once the hawk has been thusly secured, she should be unhooded and then left alone for several hours. At first, the hawk will react violently by leaping forward to leash length and then sprawling on her side (or back) in a most distressing manner. Your staying nearby to “help” merely aggravates her more and postpones her adapting to the guddi. Nelson has known it to take up to five hours for some hawk’s to regain their balance and discontinue sprawling at leash length and stand upon their feet instead. The best thing to do is leave, close the door, and do not allow anyone or anything to enter the room until you are satisfied this adjustment period has been completed.
You may peek in occasionally (perhaps once an hour), but do not approach the hawk unless you see she has become entangled in her leg gear to the extent she cannot possibly regain her feet on her own. If you have set things up correctly, this should never happen. In time, you will peek in and the hawk will be standing normally, looking quite befuddled. Upon seeing you she may sprawl out again, but if she stands on her own even a single time, she will soon enough regain her feet if you leave her alone to do it. Go away and stay away for a few hours to allow the hawk to become more and more used to the feel of the guddi. During this time she will probably mute, perhaps attempt to preen, hop about and learn the parameters of her tether, and if tired enough even tuck her head in her back and sleep. All activities that help her normalize much more rapidly with you out of the picture.
First Positive Encounter
Do not be in a hurry to interact for the first time with a newly guddied hawk. It is very important your first official introduction be based on a positive experience and, for an upset and befuddled hawk, that will involve food. But, for food to make an impact, the hawk must have an appetite. Although aplomados are not large raptors, if they are in a fat condition (which most will be if coming straight to you from a breeder) they can go a day or two without food with no harm done. Since this new bird probably hasn’t eaten during transit, it may be getting hungry. After the additional hours during the adjustment period it will have more appetite yet. Therefore, once you feel the hawk is adjusted to the guddi enough to focus on its first lesson, you may enter the room proffering the whole carcass of plucked bird that has additionally been split open so the sight of breast meat and liver is unmistakable.
Regardless of your careful presentation, your presence will no doubt send the hawk sprawling to the end of her tether. Very gently and slowly, tear a juicy piece of breast meat off the quail and holding it in the tips of a pair of hemostats offer it toward the face of the hawk. Even if laying on her side and biting at the meat out of fear, if the meat enters her mouth she will taste it and swallowing may occur. Stand very still and let the hawk think about what is happening. If the hawk holds the meat in her mouth and seems to be frozen in a state of trance, slowly use the hemos to push the meat further into the her mouth and over her tongue. That will cause the hawk to swallow instinctively and taste the meat. However, attempting that may backfire causing a struggle which knocks the meat out of the hawk’s mouth. Using common sense, and being sensitive to the hawk’s reaction, keep handing the hawk morsels of food at the length of the hemos until she will accept them and begins to swallow automatically. If it seems as though there is total rejection of your offerings, go away for a few hours, then return and try again.
successful offering you come closer to breaking through, so be patient, be
sensitive, don’t push things to the point of upset for the hawk, continue to
make the food available, but leave when it becomes obvious the hawk is not
ready yet. For some hawk’s this
will take only one or two attempts. Others may resist for and entire day. All will eventually be hungry enough to
accept the food offered carefully at hemo tips, so persist until that happens.
Once the hawk has eaten a few bitefuls, begin associating the eating with a marker signal such as a tongue click, a whistle, or a soft verbal cue. Now you can give that audible cue whenever you approach with food and soon you will see a dramatic change in the hawk’s demeanor as she goes from fearing your approach to anticipating it.
On the Fist in the Guddi
Perching on the fist is difficult for a guddied hawk, and more so for one not feeling relaxed. Once again, the key to success will be food. This time the meal will be a large one. The hawk will not consume the entire meal—aplomados are not fast eaters, so there is no fear of the hawk gobbling down too much food too quickly—but a large meal will be necessary to anchor the hawk’s interest and even aid in balance, for the hawk will focus her attention and grip on the carcass, and your grip on the other half of the carcass aids in her balancing on the fist.
To make all this happen, approach the hawk with your gloved fist holding a plucked and opened carcass, juicy and tempting. If this hawk has been accepting tidbits from the hemos and has shown any signs of anticipating food, she will readily step toward and bite at this target. If you lay your fist upon the mat surface in front of her and allow her to gnaw at the meat, she will eventually place a foot on the carcass in an instinctive effort to feed in normal raptor fashion. This will be key to helping you help her clamber clumsily up upon the fist so she can eat in a normal perching, gripping position. Expect this nervous bird to possibly topple off a few times from a startled reaction to any movement, real or perceived, you might make. As before, with the tidbits, be patient and gently aid the hawk in succeeding at sitting the fist for the meal. You must lift your fist off the mat once the hawk in upon it in order to cause her to perch more normally. Do not allow her to completely crop herself, but let her get enough to make a deep impression and sustain her until the next meal.
PHOTO OF A GUDDIED APLO ON THE FIST
Some hawks will attempt to bate with the guddi on during the first few experiences on the fist. This is most likely to happen if they finish the meal and become startled by a sudden motion. Not being able to fly they simply fall off the fist and dangle at leash length acting very upset by the situation. Your job is to return the hawk to the glove with a minimum of fuss. With slow and steady motion, reach with your free hand and support the hawk’s guddied back. More than likely the hawk will extend her taloned “hands’ upward and pump its legs in the classic defensive posture typical to a raptor flopped over on her back. Supporting the hawk under her back, gently bring her upward and over so she approaches the glove feet-first. The defensive footing maneuver can be used to initiate a perching posture. As soon as the hawk “foots” the glove, gently swing her body up over her feet and do your best to cause her to find its center of gravity and become balanced. This balance is precarious, but if you are very cautious she may perch somewhat normally. You can even continue to support her in the upright position as you move about for a while. It is likely she will bale off a few times before becoming weary of doing so. At some point she may hunker down on the glove, laying across it more on her belly than on her feet. This is acceptable at this stage of the game, so be cautious and keep your body movement and gloved hand very steady. Walk about or sit quietly, continuing to encourage her to remain calm and steady whether standing ro lying across the glove on her belly.
Bringing It All Together
After the initial adjustment period, be sure to visit the hawk frequently and hand her tidbits between the main meals. At least twice a day, offer the whole carcass and help her stand on the fist while eating. Do not make these meals easy to gobble down, for the more time spend pulling and tearing the more positive association she has with sitting the fist. Let her become engaged in eating before attempting to move but, once she is involved, move about slowly speaking softly in an ongoing patter of meaningless nothings to associate your voice with feeding. Carefully use your free hand to adjust the meal or tear off the occasional juicy morsel and hand it to her or fiddle about gently with her jesses.
Over time, during these bigger meals, use the hawk’s concentration on the feeding as an opportunity to gently touch her back and tail and shoulders and slip your fingers up under the breast feather to gauge her keel. You do not want the hawk to become sated during these meals because you want her to have enough appetite to accept tidbits from you when she is passing time in the guddi between meals. These larger feedings are also an ideal time to lift the hood up toward the hawk’s head. Do not attempt to actually hood her just yet, but stroke her with the hood about the shoulders and head so she becomes habituated to its presence. When the time comes to introduce hooding, this hawk will not fear the hood’s initial approach.
As a way of gauging the amount of food going into the hawk each day so she will not gain but may even lose a bit each day, weigh out 10 grams of meat and keep it handy for tidbitting throughout the day. Once the hawk learns what tidbits mean, even a tiny scrap will be eagerly accepted from the tip of the hemos. So 10 grams can go a long way if you are judicious about how much you give each time.
The remaining part of the daily ration should not exceed 10 to 15 grams. Even at that your hawk will not lose much weight. So each “large” meal will not yield very much actual intake of meat. You accomplish this by paring away much of the easily consumed parts of the carcass, and leave only the tougher, harder to tear off components. That will keep the hawk happily working at the “tyring” while you condition her to your voice, your hand and the sights and sounds of the household. Yet, at the end of the meal, there will not be much actual food in the hawk’s crop. She will still be keen to eat throughout the following day.
By this time perhaps two days have passed since you received your hawk and began the guddi routine. If you have been patient and sensitive, but moved steadily forward as described above, your hawk is now visibly adjusted to the guddi, can be seen to look forward to your approach, and now readily steps up onto the proffered carcass and tears hungrily at it while you walk about and find various excuses to involve your hands with the meal. The hood is now virtually ignored by the hawk and you can touch the feeding bird about the head and shoulders with impunity. Time to push forward.
From here, view your daily interactions in two categories: 1) manning and 2) training. While both things are intrinsically woven together, manning involves those processes designed to increase the hawk’s acceptance of its new surroundings and training are those processes designed to shape her behavior to do things you want her to do.
Manning in the Guddi
Because manning and training proceed simultaneously, one must comprehend that while the two may be discussed separately both are happening concurrently. One does not man and then train. One seamlessly pursues both together. Having said that, our description of each component will be parsed out in isolation to avoid a muddled multi-layered explanation.
The manning process is simply exploiting the bird’s inability to bate and fly while in the guddi and therefore to compelling it to accept its surroundings and circumstances. Lest the reader be inclined to frown at such a statement, think of the alternative. Without the guddi the exact same outcome must be sought, but the hawk being able to bate, every experience is ultimately soured by stress for both falcon and falconer because both parties are constantly barraged with the unneeded and unwanted static of anxiety resulting from the hawk’s instinctive fear bating. Remove the bating from the equation, and progress is much more rapid because the hawk simply has no choice but to accept the presence of the falconer, and the falconer can feel hugely confident that each step of training will proceed as planned without the ongoing interruptions and setbacks of ceaseless bating.
So, what do you actually do to maximize manning in the guddi? In no particular order, here are some good activities to pursue.
Training in the Guddi
Training can begin to take place in a rudimentary but foundational way while the hawk is still in the guddi. There are really only two things you will train your hawk to do in the guddi, 1) walk toward and step up onto the fist, and 2) take the hood. Of these two, the hood is the more important. Almost every living hawk trained for falconry eventually learns to hop to the fist, guddi or not. But there are far too many cases of hawks not learning to hood despite their falconers’ most valiant efforts. So exploiting the time in the guddi for hood training is essential.
This will begin in the early phase of guddi training when the hood is simply used as an object to touch the hawk about the shoulders and head as she is otherwise preoccupied with feeding on the fist. This can be followed a few days later by bringing the hood up to the hawk’s face with a tidbit set upon the chin strap. If the hawk has appetite she will lean forward toward the hood and take the tidbit. Continue this a time or two until it is obvious the hawk is anticipating the hood’s approach. Now, move the tidbit into the interior of the hood so that it sits on what is normally the “roof” of the inside of the hood. With the hood upturned, be sure the hawk spies the tidbit inside and allow her to reach in for it. Continue until this reaching is automatic.
Next, put a very small tidbit inside, but have a very large one ready nearby out of sight. After the hawk reaches into the hood to secure the tiny scrap, click your tongue and when she removes her head hand her the much larger tidbit overhead. Repeat this until the routine follows an automatic series of steps: hawk reaches forward into the hood and secures tiny scrap and you cluck your tongue, when her head comes out hand her a large tidbit overhead.
Finally, put NO meat in the hood at all. You will see that she puts her head into it automatically. Be sure to cluck your tongue when she does and hand a nice big treat to her upon coming out of the hood. Play this game until she is obviously eager to stick her head in and then looks for her treat afterward.
You would think at this point you are ready to hood the hawk, but that is not the case. You have just set the stage. If you were to try to upturn the hood onto this hawk’s head as she reached forward into it, you might find her startling back out and becoming suspicious from then on. So, at this point you will begin to meet the hawk’s forward motion half way with an aborted hooding. It goes like this: hawk leans toward hood and simultaneously you move hood toward hawk so that both meet about half way. Do not attempt to hood, just have the hood there for the hawk to peer into or to reach into. Cluck your tongue and then set the hood down and hand the hawk a high-level tidbit. Do this a few times. Next, bring the hood closer to the hawk’s head as she moves forward. Now the hood is about ¾ the way there when you stop forward motion and cluck, remove and tidbit.
You can guess that this game continues with the hood getting ever closer to the hawk until very carefully you settle it over her head and take it right back off again, clucking and tidbitting. Do not attempt to close the braces. You do not need to yet and you want the hawk to be very comfortable with the act of hooding before you introduce what may be an unpleasant sensation of the hood closing up during cinching.
Soon you will be able to slip the hood onto the hawk’s head, cluck, remove and tidbit smoothly and without fuss. Do this on and off throughout the day and intermingle it with all the other suggested manning activities above. Now, you may begin to extend the time the hawk wears the hood in the open position. Each time you slip the hood on, wait just a little bit longer and longer before you slip it off and tidbit. You may also begin to withhold the tidbits after hooding so you only sporadically tidbit. However, do not completely withhold tidbits on an ongoing basis. Be sure the hawk receives a reward infrequently, and if any troubling obstinacy occurs during hooding, return to more frequent tidbits.
About two days before you plan to remove the guddi, start incrementally tightening the braces after hooding. You needn’t yank them shut as that will startle the hawk and cause sudden discomfort to which she may react violently by gripping and stomping her feet on the glove, throwing back her head and shoulders, and possibly falling backward off the glove or leaning back so far she jams her tail into the glove in a way that jeopardizes her feathers. This can be avoided by closing the hood slowly and in increments spaced apart by a few seconds of waiting and adjusting. In this way the hood can be tightened without a negative reaction.
At this time be sure to remove all casting from the diet of the hawk. You will soon be keeping her in the hood for protracted periods of time, so it becomes important the hawk not cast until the time comes you can leave her unhooded at night knowing that you can pick her up easily in the morning and hood her at will.
For at least two nights before removing the guddi, put the hawk to bed hooded with the braces properly tightened. Despite any and all protests (unless you think something is wrong with the fit of the hood) leave the hawk hooded until morning. If the hood is a good one and fits well when the braces are closed it should not cause undue discomfort. So, in time, the hawk will calm herself and stop her ceaseless scratching and popping about in it. By morning she should be sitting on the perch or the mat in a relatively dignified manner. It is important the hawk become used to long hours in the hood prior to guddi removal because once the guddi comes off the hawk will spend a few days more in the hood than out of it.
In the morning, loosen the braces but do not remove the hood immediately. Allow the hawk to calm herself and sit erect. Check to be sure there are no nape feathers caught in the braceworks at the back. If there are, pull the braces back inward to release them. It is not necessary to have the braces opened fully to remove a hood (though it may be to put it on) and fully opened braces can sometimes catch feathers in them and actually work against you. When the hawk is calm and you are sure no feathers are caught in the braceworks, slip the hood off and hand the hawk a tidbit immediately. Now, it will be important to rehood the hawk using your best high-level tidbit technique. If you just take the hood off and leave it at that, the next hooding will go badly. Now is the time to remind the hawk that hooding is a good thing, despite spending the night in the horrid thing. So bring the hood toward but not near the hawk, cluck, set the hood down and tidbit. Now repeat but bring the hood closer, cluck and tidbit. Now a third time right to her face, cluck and tidbit. Finally, slip it on over the hawk’s head, but do not brace or linger. Remove immediately to a big tidbit. Now the hawk can remain bareheaded for the morning’s going’s ons and when you go to hood again you will precede the hooding with a repeat of all the steps just mentioned to ensure the hawk is reminded of the positive side of hooding before asking her to repeat last night’s performance.
In addition to hood training, the guddi period is a time to initiate stepping onto the glove. This is far easier to accomplish, and you have already partially done so in the first few days by encouraging the hawk onto the fist to feed on a carcass. Now you will push further by coaxing the hawk to step toward you for smaller tidbits. Soon she will be lumbering your way for a proffered tidbit and with some common sense thinking you will be able to train her to step upward onto the glove for tidbits as well. Once the hawk is moving in your direction and stepping up onto the glove, you are well on your way to the calling off phase out of the guddi.
Removal of the Guddi
A week or more has passed, and looking back you have come a long way with this once wild-hearted hawk. You can carry her about openly without startling. She tolerates the hustle bustle of life about her, both indoors and out. You can take car rides with her, and she even tolerates the dog. You can hood this hawk, and she will step toward you and climb up onto the glove for a tidbit.
But in spite of all of those positive things, the removal of the guddi and discovery of her wings can trigger a setback if the hawk realizes she can bate now and begins to do so. Therefore, after the guddi is removed, it pays to keep the hawk in the hood for most of the day and work her out-of the-hood as did the old falconers in days of yore.
So you will now hood the hawk as she has become accustomed to being hooded, and you will let her set for a long while until she is obviously relaxed and no longer thinking of the hooding episode. Now you will have and assistant cast her in the traditional way and lay her on a flat surface on a counter or table. Using long fabric shears, you will insert the tips under the topmost edge of guddi behind the hawk’s neck. Keeping the scissor tips upward so you do not accidently cut through the hawk’s feathers or skin, shear toward the tail until you have cut a strait line a little over halfway down. Next, use the shears to snip outward from your initial cut behind the neck outward toward the shoulders (see illus.). Now the guddi can be slipped downward off the wings in a single insect exoskeleton-like unit and the bird’s wings are once again freed.
For the next two days the hawk’s wings may be stiff and weakened from disuse. While this is not a condition intentionally sought after, its inevitability works to the falconer’s advantage for a short duration. Because of this, during the 24 to 48 hours following removal from the guddi, the hawk remains disinclined toward bating. Couple this physical lethargy with a regimen of out-of-the-hood manning and training, you gain several more days of bate-free progress.
Some Training Out-Of-The-Hood
During this out-of-the-hood period you must continue to cajole your hawk with tyrings when she is unhooded, while systematically beginning a weight control regimen. Find your hawk’s true weight by perching her, hooded, on your balance. A typical aplomado hood made of light leather will weigh about ten grams. Subtract that and another 5 grams for leg gear and you will be near to your hawk’s true body weight. A female ramage aplomado can be expected to be quite responsive at about 335 grams. She may respond higher than this, or she may need to be taken lower, but the 335 gram target will be a reasonable starting point for most alethes. With the tercelettos, subtract 100 grams at every point. So if your terceletto is at 235 grams you may expect a reasonable degree of response. However, yours may need to be as low as 225 or may be taken up as high as 250. Only you and your terceletto know for sure. Use the hawk’s response to your requirements for training to guide you in your decisions about weight control. Couple this with frequent assessments of the keel mass. When examining a hawk’s keel, do not just run your finger at the middle most point and examine the boney protrusion there. Rather, check the keel bone itself, but also take your thumb and forefinger and give a light palpitation of the entire sternum muscle mass. To do this your thumb will rid gently on the keel itself while you index finger reaches upward into your hawk’s “arm pit.” Becoming intimately familiar with this muscle mass at various times of the day will give you the best reading on your hawk’s health and readiness in training. As a real life example of the error of not feeling the keel: a falconer once trapped a hawk and weighed it at the time of trapping. Over the next weeks the hawk did not seem to lose a significant amount of weight according to the scale. The inexperienced falconer—at the advice of a well-intended sponsor--continued to withhold food to bring the hawk’s weight down to spark cooperation through hunger. After the hawk died of starvation, the shocked falconer and sponsor learned its intestines were loaded with round worms. As the hawk declined, the round worms blossomed. So the balance gave a reading which indicated no weight loss because of the rising mass of parasitic worms. The hawk itself was wasting away, but the numbers did not reveal this. The moral is, the keel will reveal what a balance may not. And the balance will reveal what the keel may not. Use both every day to determine your hawk’s proper state of health and readiness.
As you become familiar with your new hawk’s metabolism and weight, continue to press through the training process. During those times you are going to input food into your hawk’s system, find some way to make every bite move her closer to a trained state. These feeding session can include a bit of hood training, some carrying about, and setting the hawk upon and perch to be at first stepped up to the fist, then hopped to the fist then short flights to the fist, then longer flights, then to the lure, and then moving out of door on the creance. This is all standard falconry protocol and at this point things should feel very familiar. You will intuitively know when it is time to increase the hawk’s time out of the hood. You will sense and observe a general tameness and confidence in the hawk. She is now readily hopping and/or flying up or over to your fist, accepting the hood, and tolerating normal activity and even the occasional unexpected event. It is time now to rock and roll.