Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eagles and Dogs

I was sifting through old files in my computer and came across this photo. I love it. It is of Roy Lupton's male golden eagle, who I would hazard a guess is in his fourteenth season, and several dogs in Scotland, loading up after a day on the moor.

Eagles can pick up on the usefulness and role of working dogs in the field as quickly as any other falconry bird. Waiting-on one can typically see the eagle's head cocked downward, watching the dog more closely than the falconer. When hawking blue hares in Scotland, a dog with a good nose is essential. Even without snow, the white-coated hares can disappear completely into thick heather. Although a young eagle, if not presented with adequate slips, may grab a dog in frustration, with time they can become a well-oiled machine. It is a pleasure to watch them take eachother's cues.

One of my favorite flights involved a golden eagle waiting-on at about 500 feet and a German wirehared pointer on solid point. When the eagle came into position, the hare was flushed and the eagle folded. Right overhead I heard the wind scream through his feathers. It was a beautiful stoop that ended with him reaching out and, seemingly effortlessly, grabbing the hare.

Not only are dogs useful in flushing the quarry, but in places like the American west, they can be used to keep hares moving through the thick sage. Then you have the sighthounds. There is a fascinating relationship between eagles and the tazis and taigans of Central Asia. That is another post to come. 

No comments: