I’m sitting outside today watching the hawks soar overhead. Seeing them makes me reflect fondly on some of the birds that I have had the pleasure to work with in the past.
So, what is falconry? N.A.F.A. says it best…
“Falconry can be defined as the taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor. This ancient art is a very demanding endeavor, requiring a serious dedication of time and energy from the falconer. On November 16, 2010 the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added falconry to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity.”
To me, falconry is a way to have a relationship with a raptor and be permitted to interact with and help in its natural instinct to hunt. In return for this incredible privilege, a falconer will help train the bird of prey to be a better hunter, will help improve the survival rate of these birds out in the wild, and raise awareness in order to get laws to be passed to protect their habitat and keep them healthy.
I love being a falconer! Being able to work with a bird of prey is amazing, as long as you remember they’re wild animals and never pets. While it takes time to build trust, your rewards are amazing! You’re an active part of the hunt, finding the game, flushing it out into the open then gathering the spoils of the hunt.
So what does the hawk get out of the deal?
Longer life – 90% of the juvenile hawks die in their first year, and many hawks barely make it to 6 years of age in the wild. However, hawks kept as hunting partners can live 20 – 30 years. And believe it or not, hawks aren’t hunting pros, so in the time spent with the hunter the hawk will be able to hone its skills while still being fed a proper diet and given medical treatment.
This season I will not be flying a new bird. Sad to say, but I have some other things to do this winter and hawking requires full time dedication. So until next season! (maybe with a new falcon)