Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Tailmounts

In our last story we reported how three of our over-wintered birds had been brought out of their aviaries in preparation for the summer flying season.

In this story we will be focusing on one of them - Flint, our male Lanner falcon.  Or to give him his correct title, Flint the

(In falconry terms, it is only the female of the species that is referred to as a Falcon. Likewise when referring to Peregrines, for example, the male of the species is always referred to as a
Tiercel and a male Sparrowhawk is always referred to as a Musket - from which the gun took its name, when firearms replaced falcons as means of providing food for the table.)

At one time, Flint was one of the most popular and spectacular members of the SOS flying demonstration team. However, two years ago he was retired, when we thought it best he become part of our Lanner falcon breeding program.

Sadly, Flint’s breeding partner Gem passed away a fortnight ago. This was a great loss to us as the pair successfully reared young last year: after an examination by out specialist vet Roger, Gem was found to have died from natural causes.

Unfortunately, as we have now entered the breeding season, we faced an LLD (Lonely Lanner Dilemma) as we were unable to find Flint a mate through our breeding contacts. That said, even if we had, it would be unlikely that the new pair would have bonded enough to breed this season.

So the decision was made to bring Flint out of retirement and return him to our flying team.  This presented a much better option for him as opposed to being left alone in an aviary, especially as - based on past experience - Flint loves to fly! As you will see if you are able to visit us during the summer months, Flint’s spectacular stoops to the lure are some something to behold!

So, as Julie reported in our story last week about Flying Weights, Flint transferred from the aviary to the weatherings at a weight of 1lb 6oz.  Today he weighed in at 1lb 2oz and within within the next day or two he will be at the correct flying weight to begin his re-training for summer demonstration work. 

But before he can take to the skies he needed to be fitted with a Tail Mount, which is a job we tackled today. A Tail Mount is a small device attached to the two central deck feathers of the tail tail (which can be seen in the inset photo above).  The mount is placed at the base of the tail, where it won’t interfere with the birds flight in any way.

What is the purpose of a Tail Mount? 
Well, the mount provides a platform for a Bell and a Telemetry Clip.  The Bell helps us to locate birds by sound over short distances, if they happen to fly out of sight. Telemetry is a form of radio tracking used to locate birds over longer distances, and the Telemetry Clip simply an anchor for the radio transmitter attached to the bird. As a delicate and expensive piece of electronics, this lightweight piece of equipment is only placed on the bird for the duration of each flight, after which it is removed.

So now, with all fixtures and fittings in place, it won’t be too long before Flint takes to the open skies again for the first time in two years, when he will join his son Lock as part of the SOS demonstration team.