It took us just 8 days of training before allowing Dutch, a young Harris Hawk, to fly free for the first time. He’s doing great and is now flying to other people and ‘following on’ as we walk through the woods. Look how he waits until I lift my arm then takes off immediately.
Harris Hawk’s are one of the easiest birds of prey to train (though like any breed, there are exceptions!) It comes from their natural behaviour – being one of the very few breeds of bird to hunt in a pack.
Native to the semi-deserts and sparse woodlands of the southwestern United States and south to Chile and Argentina, they hunt in groups with the younger birds flushing out prey while the older birds do the killing. Their diet consists mainly of other birds, lizards and small(ish) mammals (although it wouldn’t be rare for them to take on heavier prey such as jackrabbits weighing over 2 kg (4.4 lb).
Dutch is pretty much fully grown and weighs about 1lb 6ozs (about 0.6Kgs). Female Harris Hawks are about one third heavier.