September 24, 2017

An Introduction to Falconry

Earlier this summer, Kathryn found a voucher for a 2-for-1 raptor encounter, and we recently made the trip out to Maple Ridge to make good of our plan. For about 2 hours, we were able to spend time with a pair of Harris's Hawks, which are a neat bird native to Arizona and parts of South America. They are particularly good introductory falcons as they have a more gregarious social structure than most raptors, making them easier for beginners.
 The lesson began with an introduction on handling the bird via a traditional large leather glove. Their feed have a thong on the legs which stop them from running too much (Harris's Hawks have surprisingly long legs and are sometimes ground hunters in the wild) and help keep them tethered to your glove. Once we were comfortable with each other, we took a short walk through the forest to get used to the weight of the bird and for them to adjust to our voices.
 Then we had pieces of food placed on the top of the glove which the hawks collected in a series of short flights from nearby perches. It was very enjoyable to see them fly and to watch them land and eat on your hand (though you are certainly grateful for the thick glove). All in all a very fun (albeit short) experience which may have fully whet Kathryn's appetite to take a more extensive falconry course in the future.

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