Character Story - Kiryu [RGGO]
I finally managed to get some of my cards to level 3! Brief overview: Character Stories are 3-chapter stories featuring a particular character. Not all cards have Character Stories attached to them, sadly, but the main characters have one at the very least. With that, I want to start off with our fave Dragon Dad!
Story: Kiryu gets an offer to run an orphanage, but he’s hesitant to accept. Date is a real bro, and Haruka makes her kid neighbors ragequit with her kick-the-can skills.
Kiryu: (I can’t make the decision to go to Okinawa on my own. I need to convince Haruka as well.)
Kiryu the Master of Self-Sabotage: “Hey Haruka how would you like to never see any of your friends ever again??”
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I gotta say I enjoy reading about the random topics brought up on this blog and it’s neat you’re willing to participate in discussions with anons despite it not being the purpose of this blog, but I also very much enjoy when you talk about your area of expertise so to bring it back to that a little what would you say the biggest misconceptions are regarding owls and raptors and any other things you work with are in your opinion? There’s so much great information online but probably the same amount if not more misinformation and it can be a little irritating to encounter. I’m studying to be a biologist and specifically I’m interested in herpetology but I’ve also loved owls and pretty much all birds since I was a lil kid so working in that area would also be super cool, and I hope by the time my education is done there’s been some big strides in terms of correct information being spread.
Here are some of the biggest misconceptions that come to mind.
Intelligence. Many people who don’t work with owls think they’re wise, affectionate birds. Many people who do work with them think they’re stupid, aggressive birds. In my honest opinion, both are incorrect. Owl husbandry is inherently flawed because people want to shove them in the same training and behavior mold that works for buzzards, hawks, and falcons. This is erroneous, because for one you should train every species a bit differently, and each individual as well. Owls are not closely related to buzzards, hawks, or falcons. Their body language is different. The way they eat is different. The way they hunt and experience their world is different. The biggest reason people mistakenly think owls to be stupid after working with other raptors is that owls don’t react to visual stimuli often. Once they get their initial look around at their surroundings, if nothing is obviously dangerous, they tune out their sight and only react to sounds. Humans can focus their eyes on a single point and reduce the rest of our field of vision to a less focused periphery. Owls do this with their ears instead. You know how if a background noise is constant and many people stop noticing it after a while? That’s how owls are with their vision. Their senses are switched.
So yes, you can wave a hand in front of a trained owl’s face and it may not even react, which gives people the idea that the lights are on but no one is home. Not true at all, they just don’t see the visual stimulus as interesting enough to react since they have learned you probably aren’t going to actually hurt them.
The other reason is that it takes wild owls a lot longer to establish a bond of trust with handlers. In fact, most non-imprinted owls never do so. The biggest hurdle is that, put simply, the trainers want to train it like a hawk. Most owl species are nocturnal or crepuscular. They are not often interested in food during the day, which means it’s unlikely for an owl to eat off glove unless it’s a food imprint since humans, being diurnal, are more than likely only available to train the owl during the day. This means the owl is not only awake during a natural sleeping period, but they also cannot be effectively incentivized for doing so. Thus, owls will often bite or foot handlers, flee from them in the mew, and remain spiteful and terrified of humans. This is not a sign of lack of intelligence on the owl’s part, but lack of accommodation on the human’s.
Behavior. Many people who don’t work with barn owls don’t realize they are nothing like their cousins, the true owls, and are instead their own group entirely; in the same way a buzzard is not a hawk. Barn owls do not hoot for one, but many members of the public only see barn owls online or at facilities that raise imprints because wild barn owls are nothing if not elusive. They’re even more silent than other owls in flight, one could fly an inch over your head and you wouldn’t even feel the air stir let alone hear the bird. As a result, a lot of people think barn owls are sweet and calm birds, even a symbol of love with their heart shaped faces. The reality of the matter is that barn owls are even less likely to tolerate humans than other owls. Perhaps due to their further heightened sense of hearing, perhaps not. Regardless, they scream louder than anything I have ever heard when angry or frightened, they are believed to have been the source of legends involving creatures like banshees or wraiths.
Utility. This is another bird where the misconception comes primarily from those who work with them rather than the public. Many educators don’t even think it’s possible to have a hawk as an education ambassador trained to stand on the glove for programs. This is because, as bird hunters built for making split-second adjustments to navigate through branches at top speed, they are very reactive to visual stimuli which can make them very high strung. The higher stressed they are, the more likely they are to damage tail feathers and they become susceptible to disease. Even worse, they have high metabolisms that burn through fat even quicker when stressed, meaning they can succumb to apoplexy and die at the drop of a hat if you’re not careful. This does not mean they cannot be trained to be calm around groups of people. Falconers have long trained hawks for centuries, but they have their own misconceptions. A lot of falconers concerned about apoplexy and infectious disease will imprint hawks instead to make a hawk that isn’t anxious of people (this anxiety can be overcome in non-imprints with a patient hand, but there are plenty of impatient falconers). This is a fine plan if you know how to imprint properly, and a nightmare if you do not. Hawks have gotten a reputation of being aggressive and crazy because of people making mistakes in the imprinting process, which in turn puts other falconers off trying them out. Hawks are just another example of a bird people try to fit into a mold they aren’t ever going to fit into.
Taxonomy. If you were born in North America, chances are that you have never actually heard of a buzzard, or if you have, you think they’re a vulture. This is because when European imperialists invaded the continent, they saw vultures soaring and mistook them for buzzards. A true buzzard is a soaring raptor, most species are known for cruising the skies lazily searching for prey, or just perching on a branch to do the same if the wind isn’t strong enough for them to do so without putting in real effort. They also favor carrion if they see it, which is why you see most of them hanging around busy roads, that and the fact people litter which lures rodents out in the open to eat on the highway.
What they are. Most people have only even heard of peregrines, at least here in the US. Even then, they tend to think any grayish raptor is a peregrine. Falcons are a raptor related more to parrots than other raptors. They have dark eyes, pointed wings, and other specific features to their family. Generally speaking, they’re built for speed and stamina. There isn’t many other topics to hit solely because again, most people don’t notice falcons often enough here to make up misconceptions. Other birds that can’t make this list for the same reason include kites and harriers, as well as osprey.
Proper care. I often see people think of falconry techniques, many of which are also used by education centers and zoos, are cruel. They see proper equipment as being shackles, and weight management as starving them. There are a lot of misconceptions on raptor care in general, which is why actually abusive raptor keeping such as manhandling pets and keeping them in contact with other animals like cats seems like good practice to people who know nothing about them. If I went into every aspect of misconceptions on raptor husbandry though, I would probably need a whole new post.
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