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Old 30-11-2010, 07:56 AM
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Little Joe Little Joe is offline
Jannes Kruger
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: far away
Posts: 8,328
Default Re: Black saker from China

Originally Posted by Turumti View Post
Dear Jannes,

These days with the number of captive bred birds and hybrids floating around, its very difficult to tell a hacked bird from a passager, and the task becomes even more difficult in the case of trained birds.

Like I have said before, not every big, dark and melanistic saker is an Altai. The difference lies in more than just the plumage and size. The true Altai sakers (caught in western China and Kazakhstan), that I have seen has some features which differentiated them from most other sakers.

They have a rather aquiline head with deep set eyes and a longish beak. The tarsi are often lightly feathered and sometimes they even have feathers between the toes. The wings and tail are quite gyrlike - the former rather rounded compared to other sakers, and the latter has a very broad base, rather long and tapers in a fashion most similar to a gyr's. Subsequently, the proportion of the two - wings and tail - are also very similar to gyr's. The most striking resemblance perhaps is the vocalisation when they are stressed, which a harsh, loud, metallic, grating, "kank-kank-kank-kank" compared to saker's, "kack-kack-kack-kack".

The flight style of the one true Altai that I had seen flown at quarry was also rather gyrlike, with the falcon preferring to take long slips and fly away from the houbara, gain height, and then mow it down most of the time in a long , but very fast and shallow stoop, pumping her wings and gaining speed all the way. Later in the season, when flying wily, falcon-wisined houbara, this bird developed another technique, which was very reminiscent of wild red shaheens flying pigeons. She would stoop below and behind the bird, and the bind to it from underneath, as she was pulling up out of the stoop. My friend had this bird for about three months before he lost her during a flight at a houbara on passage. (Her prowess had him overconfident, and he flew her during the return migration period in spring).
Salman, you know I respect your opinion and experience, but many of the qualities you mention are very subjective things. However, I don't wish to enter into a lengthy debate about this. Hope to go hawking with you one day rather.

All the best,
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black, china, saker

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