Tuesday Video Lunch: Something Out of Matt’s Dreams

We all know that vultures eat rotting carcasses, but we at Animal News get to chow down on Video Lunch!

According to Himilayan Raptor Rescue, Asian vultures are going extinct. As is often the case, humans are to blame. This time, however, people are killing the vultures with kindness. That is, kindness for other animals.

Sick and dying livestock are given a drug called “Diclofenac” that acts as an anti-inflammatory and painkiller. It is very effective at easing the pain of ailing farm animals. Unfortunately, it is also quite toxic to vultures. Raptor Rescue claims that vulture populations “have declined by a staggering 99.9% in the last 15 years,” primarily due to this drug.

Vultures are not pretty. In fact, most people find them downright revolting. But they are an essential part of the ecosystem. Without them, rotting carcasses would pile up, creating a serious disease threat and also feeding a growing population of feral dogs.

So what can you do to help protect the Asian vultures? You could donate to Himalayan Raptor Rescue. But if you were feeling more adventurous, you could go parahawking.

Parahawking is the act of paragliding with birds of prey. Raptors are experts at using thermal vents for lift, so they can be used to guide paragliders into the right air streams. And the best part is that the Parahawking company donates a portion of their profits to vulture conservation. Actually, the best part is probably that the hawks will land on your hand while you are paragliding. But conservation is a close second.


The Harris’s Hawks of the Desert will Cooperate to Destroy Us All

Howdy everybody! It’s Matt again.

I guess I am making a habit of this, but I needed to tell you guys about this one.

Check this out. I’ll wait.

Holy shit, right? I mean, come on, how can you not be psyched about that kind of news story. It’s about a pack of raptors that have been trained to display their natural behavior where people can see it, and actually go straight home afterwards, without being recaptured or restrained. It’s absolutely insane, but in the best way possible.

Look, I know I’m a huge fan boy for this right now, but seriously, imagine having that job. You wake up in the morning, feed the birds, weigh them, and then, you go out and help them display their gifts to the people who come out to see them. Then, you go take them back to their mews, and you keep them healthy and protected.

In a funny coincidence, I have actually been to the reserve that is mentioned in this story. I didn’t know about the falconry demonstrations at the time, but I was completely enthralled by the desert wildlife on display. There were a lot of different insects and other creatures that were at the place. If you are ever in the Phoenix area, I would suggest going to check it out. Then, you can go to the Crocodile Cafe, which is both an obscure movie reference, and a real place, which is delicious. Wear sunscreen though, cause the sun is literally two inches off the ground there.

If you haven’t checked it out, we have a new podcast about bees, and if you haven’t heard our falconry podcast, get on it.

UPDATE: It’s literally two minutes later, but I wanted to say one more thing.

So, I recently have been mining my childhood for nostalgia, because I have been on this weird going back to the US tear, and I wanted to check something out from my childhood. So I started reading Animorphs again. First off, when I was a kid, that shit was no where near as dark as I think it is now. The first book features multiple vicious murders, and the morphing is described in the most insanely grotesque way possible. It’s awesome.

But, I had forgotten about the one person who got trapped in a morph, and what morph he was eventually trapped in. That’s right, Tobias, the sullen emo kid from the broken home, was morphed into a Red Tail Hawk. It’s one of those things that I think spurred my addiction to falconry, that lay dormant in me until I started looking it up recently. So now I have two children’s books that I read that prominently featured falcons used in falconry, My Side of the Mountain, and Animorphs.

Falconry Resources and Why Matt Is Obsessed With It

Hey guys,

I know that you have probably heard the podcast and you know that I have been recently obsessed with the art of falconry. I wanted to provide you with some more insight into why I really appreciate the sport, and why I think it is something that should be appreciated by more people. If you haven’t listened to the podcast, go back and listen, so I can feel rewarded for my behavior.

I linked this place in the podcast post, but I need to link it again. When I got the wild hair to look up falconry resources, this was the first site that I found, and was also the one that has influenced my thinking the most. I really appreciate the frankness of the information, and I think that the author provides a great example to those who would be interested in the sport. Also, the videos are pretty incredible to see. The Modern Apprentice.

If you’re like me, and you want to learn more about the training and hunting aspects of the Falcons and Hawks used, you can check out the International Falconry Forum which, much like regular forums, has some misspellings, but is pretty damn informative for all that. You can also see some of the beautiful birds that people are hunting with on this site.

Of course, this is the internet, and I haven’t mentioned one of the best resources for the Falconry Appreciator, Wikipedia, which has great information on the birds and the practices. Cruise around here to look at some of their info. Also, check out the pictures of the birds.

Kristin mentioned the fashion of Falconry, with the Hoods and the Jesses. These are incredibly intricate and the Modern Apprentice has a good section on them. However, there are many sites about the making and maintaining of hoods. This store claims to have them in stock and make them, and has a great deal of falconry products.

Hope this explains myself. Also, check out Kristin’s post of the evocative faces of falcons.