We are going through much soul- searching over our "last" dog; not morbidly; actually one reason we must choose carefully is that we want an Ataika descendant and females in her line are startlingly long- lived. At almost ten the only signs of age I can see are gray hairs on her muzzle and the fact she usually doesn't stroll around on the top of the 8- foot fence any more. But then, her mother Oska was fourteen when she had her and lived to twenty; her grandmother, the great Arys, only made nineteen.
What I want is your thoughts on hawks. I am going to spend a significant sum on one of two long -lived birds this spring, and although there MAY be another after that, who knows?
I have really only two totemic birds: the Goshawk (spare me "Northern" please!) and the birds of the Gyr/ Saker complex, for which, when around friends who won't argue with my eccentricities I use the Medieval term "Great falcons". Here is a Finnish male and an old Gyr- Prairie of mine:
I like the males, especially in Gyrs. Luckily they cost less (and I prefer girl dogs; why?) So here are some random (not quite) factors pro and con.
Gyrs get lost. They fly BIG. I am in an area (the size of a New England state) with few roads and have lost them chasing behind. Even with good telemetry. We fly "out of the hood", from the fist, at game our dogs put up, not waiting on, and they cover the sky. Out of the hood or off the fist, walking with dogs and wishing for horses, or eventually probably with a 4 wheeler
Gyrs, especially tiercels have the best personality, not just better than Goshawks but better than some people's dogs; like good interactive dogs, the ones you talk to. Kazakhs call the whole Saker bunch "Itilga": dog hawk.
Even friendly Goshawks can be morose brooders on imagined slights. The north Eurasian subspecies-- I can just about afford a Finn-- are reputed friendlier. And we make sweet quiet imprints. I have never lost a Gos (given two away, one because I was given a Gyrbrid that I lost in a month, one because he took an irrational dislike to Libby. I would have rewired that one today).
Pure Gyrs used to die easily of diseases, especially stress- induced aspergillosis. (A friend used to say they were all "born with AIDS"). That ever- present fungus is better understood these days, and I might not have lost the gray bird above to it if we had known what we know now. A bit of Saker or Prairie or Peregrine genes is damn near a cure.
Some Gosses are also susceptible, but not the ones I intend to fly.
I don't like hooding Gosses-- I make them tame, and they ride in boxes if they have to. Asians hood falcons and eagles but not Goshawks.
One worry is that I intend to get a 4 wheeler, and if the gos is not raised on it (!) he is likely to find it scary. My Gyr hybrids always took machines in stride. They also have all hooded well, though the tamest would try to get it off when they were bored.
Worth repeating: Gyrs get lost, and break your heart. Gosses are versatile and don't get lost unless you really do something stupid. Gyrs talk to your dogs, get down on the ground and tip their heads at them (hawk greeting) and tolerate the dogs sniffing under their tails. If a dog did that to a Gos, he would go sulk in a tree.
Please don't say I need both. In that case you better hope I am a late literary success because if I flew both I wouldn't have time for anything else.
I LIKE virtually everything about both birds. I doubt my questions will resolve anything But I sure will enjoy talking about it.