I hope readers who celebrate Thanksgiving had a wonderful day full of favorite foods, gratitude and a minimum of family drama. Non Birding Bill and I thought of all the things we're grateful for and one thing that I am always grateful for is the opportunity to work with birds of prey. There's something captivating about the intimacy of a bird ravenously feeding from your gloved hand.
I found some more video footage I took of hand feeding raptors that again demonstrates some of the perils of hand feeding birds, although not nearly as gross as the red-tailed hawk incident. When you feed peregrines on the fist--especially something like quail, you just know that you're going to end up messy at the end. In the wild, peregrines will fly to a perch and pluck off feathers of their prey to gain access to the meat (many raptors do pluck out the larger feathers of prey). In this video, it's interesting to note how large the quail is in relation to the falcon...and how little is left at the end.
Incidentally, peregrines are one of the reasons I'm no longer a vegetarian. They make eating meat look so, so good.
Did you love the little "quail mustache" that the bird has while chowing down? And here is what your pants (and sometimes your hair) looks like when you are finished feeding a peregrine:
You get covered in plucked feathers and unwanted bits of meat.