Another question -- how would you describe the relationship between the raptor and the handler? I know you've indicated that they aren't pets, and I wouldn't expect them to be, but after a couple of seasons can the handler expect to form a sort of working relationship with the raptor? From what you've described it sounds like it's largely motivated by feeding/regulating food intake. Is that always the case, or in time will the raptor adopt more "domesticated" (for lack of a better word) tendencies where the strict system of diet regulation becomes less critical?
I'd say it's a working relationship.
There's two main categories of falconry bird; imprint and passage.
An imprint is a bird that was taken from the nest at a young age and raised by the falconer. Those birds see you as a parent, and later a mate (as I understand it). I'm only in my second year, and have no experience with these. But, I do think they can be a little more "tame". However, weight management is still very important. A hawk that isn't hungry isn't motivated to hunt, and will respond to your call when he's good and damned ready.
A "passage" bird is one that was trapped in its first year after leaving the nest. This is what I have. These hawks will also tame down, but maybe not quite as much as an imprint. They soon recognize that it pays to stick close to you and watch for fleeing game in the fields. Every one is a little different in how "tame" they'll get, but I assume the longer they're kept the more tame they'll be.
Both types of birds have their pros and cons.
This post was edited on 3/25 at 9:35 am