And here’s one of Ollie’s food begging noise. It’s cute but it can also get irritating after a while. So this is my response to him begging now haha. It’s not exactly what he was asking for, but I thought it was amusing. This bird is so tame I can literally grab him and pick him up and he’s not phased at all! I’ve never been able to do that with any other bird
FOOD BEGGING MEANS KESTREL SNUGGLES.
that’s grabbing a bird in an uncomfortable grip and assuming it’s cute and the bird is happy just because it’s not explicitly freaking out and trying to bite
This is not cute! This is NOT cute!
Birds breathe in a different way than humans do, and holding any bird like that (hand around body, constricting chest in any way) makes it difficult for the bird to breathe. Not to mention, any bird is fragile, and who knows how firm that grip was on the poor baby. Secondly, that is not a happy bird. That bird doesn’t want that sort of treatment (they aren’t budgies; even if you can treat them like that, you shouldn’t) and made a noise to voice their displeasure. Lastly, food begging is a bad habit that shouldn’t be encouraged in any way —perhaps there is a need for changing the feeding times or something of that sort— and I really hope the bird has a bigger perch than that.
Hi, yes, I work at a wild bird rehabilitation-and-release center with mainly raptors…My question is, why the FUCK isn’t she wearing any damn gloves? That is not safe for her or for the bird. It definitely needs a bigger perch, as you said, and it also doesn’t look like the cleanliness of the area is quite up to par…Not to mention that you never, ever, ever, ever pick up a bird like that, let alone a wild bird, and CERTAINLY don’t touch them with your face! Again, this is dangerous and can be detrimental to both human and bird. I don’t know if this is her “pet” (in which case we have a whole other issue) or if she’s trying to rehab the bird, but either way, something is wrong.
I knew some people would criticize and find fault with this video. I almost didn’t post it for that reason, but instead I’ll just add explanation.
First of all, the perch is not at all too small for this kestrel. It is perfect size, designed to eliminate any feather damage. The diameter is adjusted to his foot size (enough to allow the toes to curve without touching each other) so that he does not develop any foot problems such as bumblefoot or papillae reduction. It is plenty wide, actually allowing him more space to move back and forth than several other perch designs such as block perches. The leash is tied at just the right length so that he has enough room to move, bathe, and bate without hitting his feathers, but not enough room to gain much momentum. Too long a leash could cause tarsi damage or leg strain. So far on this perch he has developed zero issues – perfect leg scale condition, healthy feet, no feather breakage. As for the cleanliness of it, the droppings drop straight down into the middle. He never comes into contact with them because he does not stand there. When he jumps off the perch, he jumps to the side. Thus, he stays completely clean. The matts are replaced or washed when the buildup becomes too much. chocolatechilipepper and notactuallycute, if you believe this perch to be too small, by all means explain to me what you think a better perch would be and why it would be better. I would love to hear! Keep in mind that free loft perches and tethered perches must be designed differently. Oh, and just as a side note, he is often allowed to fly free in my room, meaning he has as much space as he wants. He spends this time flying between perches, playing with toys, and sitting with me. He also flies free outdoors for several hours every day so he gets plenty of exercise.
Ok, now that we’re past the equipment criticism, let’s move on to handling. Yes, holding a bird in such a way is generally not an acceptable way of handling an animal. However, with a proper but gentle grip, it is not dangerous. Grabbing a bird from behind and holding the wings gently against its body is an acceptable way of constraining a bird temporarily. Yes, if you hold too tightly and improperly it might restrict breathing. This was not the case here however as I had an extremely light grip. So light, in fact, that as soon as he attempted to move out of my hand, he was able to. If he struggles, I don’t squeeze, I let go. This assures no chance of injury. There are people who actually handle birds like this regularly as a form of hunting. Some people who fly kestrels hold the birds in their hands and literally throw them at quarry like a dart. The birds are not harmed and learn to accept the form of handling as a positive experience. So, no, I was not hurting my bird. I, too, have worked at rehabilitation centers and zoos and have handles all sorts of birds so I know what I’m doing when I handle them.
As for not using gloves, they’re really not necessary with a kestrel! Perhaps if he were a pissed off, wild, screaming, biting kestrel, then gloves would be a good idea. But not with a tame imprint bird. In fact, most well-manned birds can be handled without gloves (though it might not be comfortable with the bigger birds!). This is a falconry bird, not a rehabilitation bird. The two are very different. When I fly him or feed him, I do use a glove. This is more for convenience than safety. Do you criticize people who don’t use gloves when handling parrots? Because I guarantee you parrots can do a hell of a lot more damage than kestrels!!
Finally, on to behavior. I assure you, this is a very happy, spoiled bird. No, he is not a pet. No, he is not a rehabilitation bird. He is a falconry bird. This means that the tamer he is, the better. He is trained to hunt and work with people. I have raised him since he was young so he is very comfortable with all parts of human life, including dogs, cars, and crowds. He is not fearful. Whenever he sees me, he tries desperately to fly at me. When I let him fly free, he almost always ends up sitting on me. When I take him outside, he follows me and comes back to me regardless of whether I’m offering him food. Was he slightly annoyed by me picking him up that way? Sure. He wasn’t thrilled for those two seconds. Was he being abused? No! Right after that video he landed on my head and started preening. That doesn’t sound to me like a scared, unhappy bird. He has one of the best lives a little kestrel could have. So why do I ever grab him like that at all? Having a bird that is comfortable being grabbed can be extremely useful! If I ever need to hold him for health reasons or examinations (treating a wound, examining his feet, fixing equipment), having a bird that is accustomed to being held and not fearful of the hand can be invaluable. The tamer the better.
You mentioned that food begging is a bad habit that should be stopped. Why? Sure, it can be a little annoying if he does it too much, but what about it is problematic? Food begging is just a way of communicating with me. It is in no way bad for his physical or mental health, so what’s the problem? He’s a young bird making baby noises. It’s actually a very natural behavior. With birds undergoing rehabilitation it is problematic, because it might affect their ability to be released. But that’s not what he is. He is a trained falconry bird.
Hopefully I have cleared up some of the misconceptions you had about this video. This bird is not being abused. He is not being housed improperly. He’s not being kept as a “pet” by some inexperienced person who just grabs him all day. He is a healthy, happy, and spoiled American kestrel that gets to fly and hunt and partake in natural activities every day of his life.
It certainly does make a difference that your kestrel isn’t a rehab bird, or a pet for that matter. I won’t disagree with you on the tether length or the perch diameter, as they look fine to me—the same length and diameter that we use. My concern with the perch was mostly that it would be much too small an area for a permanent residence for him, but as you say he has plenty of other places to inhabit, I don’t think it’s an issue. Similarly, if he’s not a rehab bird, the gloves aren’t so important, especially since you seem to be very familiar with his habits and say he is equally familiar with you. The face rubbing still concerns me a little bit, just out of fear that he would accidentally hook you with a talon or even his beak, but ultimately it’s up to you, as his…owner?, to determine appropriate handling (to a point, obviously, which I don’t feel this surpasses). (And yes, I would recommend people who are not extremely familiar with their parrots to use gloves, as well.) Likewise, provided you know what you’re doing, and you seem to, picking a bird up like that briefly is not damaging.
I’m very happy to see that you seem to know what you’re doing with regards to your kestrel, though. I think just about all of my concerns have been alleviated by knowing a good bit of context. It’s all very dependent on the level of comfort between human and animal, as with all relationships. I would never put my face against a strange cat’s face, but I can do it with my cat, because I know his personality and how to read his body language well enough to pull back if necessary. I’ve had birds before, and I’d say those relationships work the same way. Knowing this is a working bird, and your working bird, makes a huge difference in the interpretation of the video. So thank you for providing that context! He’s a lovely bird, and I wish you two happy hunting.