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What's this big falcon from Hokkaido, Japan? (1 Viewer)

BobbitWorm45

Well-known member
What's this birds likely origin then, is Falconry a thing in Japan or has this occured naturally in the wild?



A

Falconry is a tradition in Japan, known as Takagari. I think goshawk is a favoured bird. In Korea they hunt with goshawk that is kept for a short period and then released back into the wild.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I've emailed the Japanese Falconers Association asking them their opinion of this bird and also if they know of any escapees from that time. Their webpage didn't look like it had been updated for a while though so I may get no reply.



At the risk of sounding stupid, I'm genuinely curious.............why are the broken tail tips a sure sign of captivity?

Japan doesn't have a rarities commitee AFAIK. As I said above this bird was seen by many birders from all over Japan and nobody to my knowledge questioned the original ID of an immature Gyrfalcon.

The bird in question was around for almost 5 months. It didn't return the subsequent winter.

It's often a sign of captivity, having been kept in a confined space which causes damage to the tail.


A
 

HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
It's often a sign of captivity, having been kept in a confined space which causes damage to the tail.


A

Again, forgive me but another dumb question, would it still be damaged after 5 months (at least) in the 'wild'? I've seen many wild birds with tatty feathers during moult.................
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Again, forgive me but another dumb question, would it still be damaged after 5 months (at least) in the 'wild'? I've seen many wild birds with tatty feathers during moult.................

If the bird has moulted it's feathers, then no, it would obvioiusly have new feathers but I have no idea what the moult strategy of a captive Falcon is likely to be, does it mirror wild bird moult cycles, Tom?

The tail on this bird looks quite short to me suggesting either old, damaged feathers or new, incomplete growth which shouldn't be so tatty so iId say it hasn't moulted it's tail in the 5 months?


A
 
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tconzemi

Tom
Supporter
Europe
Hokaidostu, I find the remarks by Peter about moulted cover most interesting, do you have a pic of the bird as late in season as possible?
 

mark clements

New member
Falconry is a tradition in Japan, known as Takagari. I think goshawk is a favoured bird. In Korea they hunt with goshawk that is kept for a short period and then released back into the wild.

This was the subject of a documentary on BBC2 (UK) a couple of days ago

South Korea Earths Hidden Wilderness

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09s0lss

It almost made it sound as if it was alright to capture wild goshawks, because they later released them....

Harry
 

P.Sunesen

Well-known member
If the bird has moulted it's feathers, then no, it would obvioiusly have new feathers but I have no idea what the moult strategy of a captive Falcon is likely to be, does it mirror wild bird moult cycles, Tom?

The tail on this bird looks quite short to me suggesting either old, damaged feathers or new, incomplete growth which shouldn't be so tatty so iId say it hasn't moulted it's tail in the 5 months?


A

I'm not Tom, but captive birds basically follow the same moulting timing as do wild birds.

This bird is a juvenile(1cy/2cy), and both wings and tail are not moulted until in the summer/autumn when the immature falcon acquires its first adult plumage.

However, the body feathers, as well as wing coverts, are being gradually (and with much individual variation) moulted even as early as from late in the first calendar year.

Since this bird was photograhed over an extended period in winter/early spring, the wings and tail of course remained unmoulted. These feathers, grown in the nest, would thus not be shed until well into the summer months, when the bird would be approximately one year old.

My point about possible captivity, is merely based on the fact that if you study museum skins, and/or good photos of large falcon in their first year (with juvenile remiges and retrices) you'd be hard pressed to find an individual with as brutal wear (broken tips of ALL 12 tail feathers) as this Japanese falcon exhibits.

This kind of wear, on the other hand, is seen very commonly on birds in captivity where birds fly against, and hang on to the wire mesh in an aviary. To keep their balance they press the tail against the wire mesh repeatedly, eventually causing all the otherwise extremely durable feather shafts to break.

This fact, together with the "un-Gyr-like" newly grown first adult wing coverts made me suggest a Saker x Gyr hybrid as much more likely than a confiding, atypically dirty/stained (look at the rusty brown belly and vent) Gyrfalcon with a highly atypical type of wing coverts AND with a broken tail......

Peter
 

RafaelMatias

Unknown member
Portugal
At the risk of sounding stupid, I'm genuinely curious.............why are the broken tail tips a sure sign of captivity?

Not at all, it's an important question. Peter has already given part of the answer though.
The extent of tail feather abrasion shown by this bird can be considered abnormal. It's not usually seen in wild birds. Extreme feather wear per se is not a sure sign of captivity, no, as it can be indeed caused by freak accidents or feather mite infestation, for example. It does depends on the type/pattern of abrasion. The way this bird's tail feathers are worn suggests best to me continued abrasion/rubbing, it doesn't look like it resulted from one single episode (some of the tail feathers besides having the tips broken, the hanging barbs are also worn irregularly, if this makes sense). I think it would be important to check the very first photos obtained of this bird to see it the tail was already like that when the bird was first found. It's interesting that there are no signs of heavy abrasion on wing feathers, but perhaps not meaningfully. A bird kept in captivity could also show tell tale signs on the bare parts (strange callosities on feet, discoloured cere, etc), but nothing of this is "a science". It's just something else that should be taken into account when "evaluating" records of out of range or rare birds, especially when they are known to be regularly kept in captivity such as some passerines and indeed falcons.
(Of course, an absence of strange feather wear wouldn't necessarily mean the bird had not been in captivity, as it all depends on the conditions the bird is kept).
 

HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I think it would be important to check the very first photos obtained of this bird to see it the tail was already like that when the bird was first found.

It was first seen in late December 2013 and I first saw it on January 2nd 2014. Here are 4 photos, the 1st on Jan 2nd and the rest on other dates up to Jan 20th.
 

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HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Hokaidostu, I find the remarks by Peter about moulted cover most interesting, do you have a pic of the bird as late in season as possible?

Here are 4 photos from the end of the season. The first 3 were taken April 6/7 and the last one atop the telephone pole was April 13th, the last date the bird was seen by me.
 

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RafaelMatias

Unknown member
Portugal
Many thanks. Your photos suggest/indicate the tail was already damaged since it was first found. Obviously not conclusive for anything, but it's an extra bit of info. A beautiful bird, nevertheless.
 

HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks for all the replies by the way. I appreciate it and would like to get to the bottom of this bird's origin.

It survived quite nicely that winter and regularly hunted large gulls successfully as well as a Short-eared Owl which was killed and eaten much to the shock of the local birders.........

A large female Peregrine regularly occurs in that area in winter which was also chased off (at least the Gyr/hybrid/whatever-it-is didn't try to breed with it!).

All my photos of the bird can be found here by the way. I spent a lot of time with it and took a lot of photos...........luckily it was quite a long time ago and I'll be able to see the funny side if it is an escaped hybrid.

It'll make finding a real Gyr even more satisfying......................!
 

P.Sunesen

Well-known member
Thanks for all the replies by the way. I appreciate it and would like to get to the bottom of this bird's origin.

It survived quite nicely that winter and regularly hunted large gulls successfully as well as a Short-eared Owl which was killed and eaten much to the shock of the local birders.........

A large female Peregrine regularly occurs in that area in winter which was also chased off (at least the Gyr/hybrid/whatever-it-is didn't try to breed with it!).

All my photos of the bird can be found here by the way. I spent a lot of time with it and took a lot of photos...........luckily it was quite a long time ago and I'll be able to see the funny side if it is an escaped hybrid.

It'll make finding a real Gyr even more satisfying......................!

Clearly the tail was damaged when the bird was first seen in said area.

I took this for granted, since such wear/damage very rarely occurs in wild Gyr/Sakers no matter if the young grew up on a rock-ledge or in a nest made of twigs.

One interesting facet of the many brilliant fotos, is the way you can follow the progress of the moulting body feathers and wing coverts.

The fresh latter ones are noticeably darker than the remaining, juvenile ones.

Peter
 

tconzemi

Tom
Supporter
Europe
Clearly the tail was damaged when the bird was first seen in said area.

I took this for granted, since such wear/damage very rarely occurs in wild Gyr/Sakers no matter if the young grew up on a rock-ledge or in a nest made of twigs.

One interesting facet of the many brilliant fotos, is the way you can follow the progress of the moulting body feathers and wing coverts.

The fresh latter ones are noticeably darker than the remaining, juvenile ones.

Peter

Peter, thanks for the valuable information on second plumage Saker coverts, I wasn’t aware about that :t::t:
 

Patudo

Well-known member
Hi all... It would be interesting to know where this bird might have originated (if it is in fact a hybrid?). Are there many practising falconers on Hokkaido and would many/any be flying gyr hybrids? Indeed, are hybrid falcons allowed to be flown in Japan period, and if so, are they bred by Japanese breeders or imported?

(By the way, Stu - those are amazing photos!)

Cheers,
patudo
 
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HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Hi all... It would be interesting to know where this bird might have originated (if it is in fact a hybrid?). Are there many practising falconers on Hokkaido and would many/any be flying gyr hybrids? Indeed, are hybrid falcons allowed to be flown in Japan period, and if so, are they bred by Japanese breeders or imported?

(By the way, Stu - those are amazing photos!)

Cheers,
patudo

I contacted the Japanese Falconers Association but have had no reply as of yet.................the website didn't look like it has been updated for a while however so i'm not holding my breath.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Hi all... It would be interesting to know where this bird might have originated (if it is in fact a hybrid?). Are there many practising falconers on Hokkaido and would many/any be flying gyr hybrids? Indeed, are hybrid falcons allowed to be flown in Japan period, and if so, are they bred by Japanese breeders or imported?

(By the way, Stu - those are amazing photos!)

Cheers,
patudo

See from post 18



A
 

Bryon Wright

Well-known member
Hi,
all still bemused by this. No one seemed to mention that as much as the tail-feathers were bedraggled the primaries were immaculate and still had those little pointed tips. The tail looked if the bird had been kept in a confined space rather than a cage but of course this is mere speculation.
 

RafaelMatias

Unknown member
Portugal
Hi,
all still bemused by this. No one seemed to mention that as much as the tail-feathers were bedraggled the primaries were immaculate and still had those little pointed tips. The tail looked if the bird had been kept in a confined space rather than a cage but of course this is mere speculation.

See e.g. post 29.
It's interesting that there are no signs of heavy abrasion on wing feathers, but perhaps not meaningfully.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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