GOING WILD with Jon Skipper
Updated: Jun 23
MINGALABAR, Hello and Welcome to the Holiday Special edition of GOING WILD
In the last issue I mentioned that we would be holding our first Going Wild activity on the 23rd November which was originally planned to be a pond netting session.
However, after receiving an offer we couldn’t refuse this was changed to a demonstration and knowledge sharing session by good friends of Pun Hlaing Estate - the Myanmar Falconers Club.
ROB TAKES THE CRESTED GOSHAWK UP ONTO THE FALCONERS GLOVE
Considering the early Saturday morning start a very respectable number of Mums, Dads and young GOING WILD fans turned out, none of whom went home disappointed, and I’d just like to pass on my thanks to everyone who made the effort to come and make the event such a success.
Together we enjoyed getting involved, spectating and learning about these majestic, fascinating creatures, many of which can be spotted in the wild at Pun Hlaing and Star City.
My own personal journey into falconry began when I came across a CHANGEABLE HAWK EAGLE, since named Ruby, whist browsing in a downtown pet shop.
Unfortunately she’d been kept in unsuitable conditions, confined to a small cage by her uneducated owner.
This had caused her wing and tail feathers to become frayed and broken, rendering her unable to fly sufficiently well to be released back into the wild as she’d be too slow to effectively hunt and catch prey to feed herself.
She was also extremely wary of humans due to the way she’d been mistreated, however I made a decision to take her home with me and do my best to help rehabilitate her and after a great deal of time and effort she’s now moulted out her old feathers and is in peak condition, to the point that with some guidance I am now able to train her.
SEBASTIAN HANDLING RUBY
After allowing a bird of prey to become accustomed to its surroundings and feel comfortable in the close vicinity of its handler whilst standing on the glove, a stage called manning by falconers, training can begin.
The first step is to patiently wait for the bird to jump willingly towards the handler from the comfort of its perch to take food from the glove, which Ruby is now happy to do.
This requires a great deal of trust on the birds part and witnessing these positive results is an exceptionally rewarding experience.
SOFIA AND RUBY ENJOYING THE SUNRISE TOGETHER
Ruby is also quite happy to pose with new friends who she now understands aren’t a threat to her, which helps immensely when you’re the author of a nature blog who’s constantly on the look out for a good photo opportunity !
NULA AND RUBY GETTING ACQUAINTED
My new interest required a lot of research and I spent a good amount of time reading up on how to train and take care of raptors.
I was also fortunate enough to cross paths and develop friendships with the founding members of the Myanmar Falconers Club, Ko Sai Naung, Ma Nay Chi and Ko Ki Ki, who for the past year have assisted us by controlling nuisance birds such as crows and pigeons at Pun Hlaing Estate by expertly flying their trained birds of prey, many of which are featured throughout this edition of GOING WILD.
This LAGGER FALCON is a real character and an expert at navigating the streets of Yangon.
Several times now he’s been flown by his handlers in various locations, only to turn up back at home many miles away or at another venue where he enjoys helping out with pest control, depending on his mood.
KO KI KI LAUNCHES THE LAGGER FALCON
He’s a very free-spirited falcon but he always manages to locate his teammates when he starts to feel lonesome.
Here’s a video of him launching and powering off towards a large mob of crows before rapidly gaining height and cruising over the tops of the LakeView Apartments, which was the last we saw of him.
I’ll let you know where he turned up in the next issue !
HARRIS HAWKS are native to the Americas and are unique, due to the fact that they are able to hunt prey cooperatively in packs.
This skill is often attributed to their high level of intelligence, making them the perfect birds for falconers to keep and train.
SABRINA CONFIDENTLY HANDLING THE HARRIS HAWK
SEBASTIAN, KO KI KI AND KO SAI NAUNG CALLING THE HARRIS HAWK TO RETURN WITH A LIGHTNING QUICK RESPONSE
ARAYA LOOKING HAPPY TO BE IN THE COMPANY OF THE HARRIS HAWK
Click on the videos to see the HARRIS HAWK in action.
KO SAI NAUNG AND HIS CHANGEABLE HAWK EAGLE
To finish up the Holiday Special let’s take a look at Ko Sai Naung flying his own CHANGEABLE HAWK EAGLE.
The plumage of this species comes in a range of colours, from pale creams, ochres and browns to an almost jet black hue, depending on the surrounding environment and the colouration which offers them the best camouflage.
When in the wild, being ambush predators, these birds tend to perch in quiet, inconspicuous places high in the forest canopy, waiting patiently and observantly for their prey to come into sight before silently diving through the undergrowth, striking their unsuspecting victims from above.
Look how quickly this bird can blend in amongst the branches of the tree and then respond to his handlers command to return, impressively skimming the ground, barely needing to beat its powerful wings.
Should any readers be interested in discussing a falconry display for an event or want to learn more about how raptors can be used as a natural and effective means of rodent or nuisance bird control you can contact Ko Sai Naung directly to arrange a consultation on +9595069054 or via email at :
Have a great time over the festive season and new year celebrations and remember that regardless of whether you’re away or at home you’re welcome to send your submissions to me at :
Join us again for the February edition of GOING WILD.