Make way! Make way! The princess is coming through. Throw out the red carpet and kneel before her beauty. While we may all be unworthy to gaze upon the greatness that is Hayabusa the peregrine falcon, she allows us to dote upon her anyway. She’s generous like that. Miss Hayabusa was the third bird to grace my glove with her presence. She is known as Princess Haya of the Mews, or The Bathing Beauty (over the winter she liked to take baths).
Trying to get Hayabusa on the glove brings to mind an old children’s poem. “And when she was good she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid.” She has two settings. The first is the “Oh yay let’s go!” setting. When she’s in this mood all you have to do is touch her foot with your glove and ask her to step up. She’ll hop right up without any fuss.
The second setting is the “Oh hell no!” setting. In this case you will generally end up chasing her around her mew. Your best bet is to grab a jess (leather strap attached to the anklet), at which point she will immediately try to fly away. Because of her bum wing, she has a lot of trouble getting onto the glove, especially when you only have one jess. The result is an agitated peregrine hanging upside down who periodically tries to flap wildly in an attempt to right herself while you try desperately to grab the second jess while simultaneously trying to dodge her reaching talons and not drop her. She will usually be loudly yelling at you the whole time you try to do this, so it’s not long before every living thing in the mews knows that Haya is having a bad day. Once you successfully extract the second jess, either you can pull her up by it (though it puts her beak dangerously close to your flesh), hope she gets up by herself (which usually happens), or you will have to get your free hand on her back and push her up towards the glove (oodles of fun I assure you). I would like to note here that peregrines are also quite soft, and that, again, you should never EVER try to pet one.
Other than some mildly humiliating upside down faux pas, Haya is quite the lady and should be treated as such. You do not touch a lady without her permission, and Haya does not like to be touched. If you offer her quail, she will reach over with her beak and daintily take it from your hand. Then she will proceed to rip the feathers off and throw them in your face (in a very ladylike fashion) and hork it down as fast as possible (in a very ladylike fashion).
The public loves to see Haya, which is good because Haya adores being adored. Unlike other falcons that need to be hooded in public, Haya loves to people watch. She is incredibly perceptive, and is always moving her head around to see everything. Of course, her favorite part of being in public is the part where people tell her how beautiful she is. She has a wonderful color to her feathers and skin, and Melissa even says she’s one of the most beautiful peregrines she’s ever seen. So if you ever happen to see Haya, whether in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West or out on one of our away programs, by sure to stop by, bow low, and tell her what a lovely princess she is.
Falconry Terms in Layman’s Terms
Falconry Term: Feaking
Falconry Term: Stropping the beak clean after eating.
Layman’s Terms: A word that is supposed to refer to a bird wiping its face clean after a meal, but that can also be used in place of another, less polite, f word (much to the amusement of the handlers). The answer to the question you’re thinking of is yes, yes—we are all 12 years old.