Bird-Brained: Kissing a Kestrel

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

 Jan. 27, 2016

A Florida man learned a painful lesson about wild animals this week: that placing one’s face in close proximity to a bird of prey – even the smallest species found in North America – is not very smart! This week you’ll also read about the feds’ decision to halt its program using ultralight aircraft to help endangered whooping cranes migrate each year, and more!

Raptor Gives Man Lip Service
A Florida animal rescue group reported this week that a man who decided to keep a wild falcon species as a pet discovered the hard way that raptors – even small ones – are nothing to trifle with.

A Kestrel: the smallest falcon found in North America.
A Kestrel: the smallest falcon found in North America.

Rick Chaboudy with the Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor, Fla., wrote on his organization’s Facebook page about a man who discovered a Kestrel, the smallest falcon found in North America, with no apparent injuries and thought it would make a nice pet. After sharing some photos of the bird on social media, one of the viewers contacted the animal group after realizing it was a protected species.

“The man was informed that the bird … must be turned in to the proper authorities,” Chaboudy wrote. “He still maintained that he wanted the Kestrel as a pet, but finally agreed to give it up after much dialogue. But before he turned it over, he decided a goodbye kiss was in order.”

The Kestrel, with a beak used regularly to rip flesh, did just that to the man’s lip, removing a significant portion of the unfortunate fellow’s kisser.

Which begs the question: who’s bird-brained in this story?

N.H. Bill Forges New Ground For Anti-Gun Lobby
A measure scheduled for a public hearing in the New Hampshire House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, while not likely to gain significant momentum in coming weeks, is nonetheless one of the more radical pieces of anti-gun legislation introduced on the state level during the fledgling 2016 legislative session.

House Bill 1368, sponsored by state Rep. Katherine Rogers (Merrimack-D), would require the seller, purchaser and owner of a firearm to be covered by a liability insurance policy. As written, the legislation does not specify the details of a qualified liability policy, or what it would cost and cover, only that violators could be fined up to $10,000 per violation by the state. Further, the measure applies to every firearm carried or owned in the Granite State, by residents and non-residents alike.

In characterizing the proposed bill this week, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) described it as blatantly unconstitutional and without legislative precedent.

“Clearly, firearm liability insurance will have no effect on the criminal misuse of firearms; however, it will have onerous effects for law-abiding gun owners,” the NRA-ILA stated in its legislative alert.

FWS to Halt Ultralight Crane Migration Program
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will halt a $20 million program utilizing ultralight aircraft to help young whooping cranes migrate from Wisconsin to Florida each fall.

The agency announced late last week that this season’s ultralight-guided flights to the birds’ wintering home would be the last.

Operation Migration is a non-profit group that has led the mechanized migrations for 15 years. The Canadian-based group has opposed the end of ultralights, saying ultralight assistance has helped cranes survive.

The final decision to end the public-private effort was made during a meeting of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, according to Pete Fasbender, a Minnesota-based FWS field office supervisor. Experts in crane biology concluded that the use of aircraft and other human interaction were having a negative impact. Since 2005, the chicks that fledged and were born in the wild came from only five pairs of adults.

“The real short answer is that we felt that this was in the best interest of the birds,” Fasbender said.

A new Smartphone App for N.H. hunters and anglers.
A new Smartphone App for N.H. hunters and anglers.

N.H. Fish & Game Launches Smartphone App
New Hampshire hunters and anglers now have field information, maps and more at their fingertips using the official Fish & Wildlife Pocket Ranger® Smartphone App for iPhone and Android.

Recently launched by New Hampshire Fish and Game Department in partnership with ParksByNature Network, the free, mobile app provides both novice and seasoned outdoorsmen and women essential information on fishing, hunting, boating, and wildlife watching in New Hampshire.

Powered by Pocket Ranger® technology, this official app serves as an interactive outdoor guide and delivers immediate access to species profiles, rules and regulations, and important permit and licensing details.

The app provides plenty of other features to maximize a New Hampshire outdoor adventure, including:

– News, advisories and weather alerts

– Social networking and photo sharing

– Cacheable map tiles for offline use

– Advanced GPS mapping features

– Friend Finder

– Built-in compass

To download the app, visit

Quote of The Week
“If you are going to be stupid, you have to be tough.”
– Prominently posted at Kejulik River Lodge, King Salmon, Alaska


J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at


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