The falconers, David and Karl, tell us about these two and their other hawks and their personalities, as well as stories of hunting with them. They tell us also, about how much interest they have had from tourists who are looking for an up-close and personal experience with hawks and the sport of falconry.We learned about how the birds are raised and trained, imprinting with some species and avoiding it rigorously with others. Baby hawks and eagles are fed through a shield, a tube that drops the food next to them so they do not look at the trainer as a parent. Owls, on the other hand, are fed by hand, encouraging this type of bond. Curiously, these opposite methods make training of each easier.
Falcons hunt birds in the air, and hawks typically are used to hunt small animals, eagles can hunt small deer. They don’t allow their falcons loose with the hawks, because they’ve been known to attack them. On the other hand, the hawks are raised with ferrets who flush rabbits from their hiding places. Because they are raised together, the hawks do not hurt their mustelid hunting partners.
Falconry has been a part of Wales for hundreds of years, the Romans made records of the native people’s use of raptors in hunting. Falconers breed and train falcons, hawks, owls, and eagles to hunt all sorts of game on the ground and in the air. David and Karl told us about the habit of the birds; of brushing their human partner with a wing while passing them in flight as they walk through the fields. We heard stories of birds who disliked each other, and species who cannot be trusted together.
With the rain pounding on the metal roof of the shed where we took cover, we stand with these raptors on our fists. Normally, their program would take us into the fields where we the birds could fly with us, and we would call them back to our gloved hands for treats. Sadly, the weather has kept us inside and we will not be able to have the full experience of “Walking With Hawks.”
Added September 21, 2010- I just came across this amazing video from the BBC filmed from the back of a falcon and a goshawk: http://www.wimp.com/camerabirds/ – thought I’d share it…