Chickens don’t make very good practice raptors. They’re not wild, fierce predators. They don’t twist their heads to bite my hand. They don’t try to shred my skin with their talons, although they could if they wanted. They do try to spread their wings to fly out of my grasp. They get bored with roll playing and would rather peck at bugs on the ground. I haven’t tried to pick up my not-fierce-predator chickens wearing leather gauntlets that limit my mobility. That’s next.
I need practice raptors before I pick up actual raptors. I thought the chickens would be better for practice than the cat, although he is wilder and more predatory. But he doesn’t have wings or two taloned feet that can be held in one hand. He’ll bite, but he doesn’t have a long enough neck to grasp with one gloved hand. Or a beak. He’s a poor stand-in for a turkey vulture. Or a hawk. Or an owl. But he does howl.
I need practice raptors because the next phase in my new bird care career is handling raptors in the hospital and rehab facility where I volunteer. Sick and injured birds are dropped off daily. Most are small birds that are examined and gently placed in baskets for care. Raptors are different. A trained volunteer holds raptors while they are examined by the resident expert. So, I need to learn how to pick up a raptor from its traveling box and hold its sharp ends while the expert pokes and prods, pulls feet, and spreads wings.
I don’t want to be responsible for a shredded, bleeding resident bird expert. So, I practice. Or I try with somewhat willing chickens.