Archive for April, 2010

Falconry and birds of prey displays – 2010 news

Its been a little while since I have written a blog. Through the winter months I have pottered along concentrating on the aviary refurbishment programme that I had set myself while at the same time keeping our birds of prey fit and ready for anything that came along. This tends to be small group work for corporate hospitality providers or displays for guests at Country Hotels.

Then Spring arrives and rather like the natural cycle of nature we are awakened by the season proper with the start of the shows. This means getting out our static display equipment which we use for events so allowing the birds to sit out comfortably in the show environment. For the old campaigners there is no real adjustment as they know the set up well and tend to sit relaxed and confident. With younger less experienced birds this is more challenging and they need to be properly prepared.

In an earlier blog I talked about one of my old falcons ‘Peggy’ – I hope with great affection as that is the feeling I have for her. But her contribution was part of a trio of birds including ‘Waqar’ a Lugger Falcon who is sadly no longer with us and ‘Duke’ a male Lanner Falcon or Lanneret as they are known. He is 22 years old and is retired – amazing to think of a falcon as retired!

His contribution over the years cannot be over estimated as he was really just about the perfect falcon – a great flier, very versatile and incredibly tame- the prefect combination –  he graced many an event over the years. I will come back to ‘Duke’ again possibly in the sleepy depths of next winter but as the new season is here I must look forward with the new falcons and other birds of prey that we have. 

So for this season our falconry displays will be graced with three new birds. Firstly ‘Slick’ who is a male Peregrine Falcon – technically he is a hybrid as one of his grandparents was a Saker Falcon. This will be his first full season and he has all the makings of a great falcon as he is fast with that peregrine ability to stoop vertically which is so exciting. But as an aviator he still has a lot to learn – he has plenty of power but does not quite know how to use it particularly when it is windy. We are working on this at home during his daily exercise and he will ‘all been well’ accompany us to many shows this summer.

‘Jazz’ is our second newcomer and she is an ‘American Kestrel’ often known over there as the american sparrowhawk. They are North America’s most numerous bird of prey. They are fairly similar to our European Kestrel although a lot smaller but equally as handsome – in fact they are both members of the falcon family.

‘Jazz’ was captive bred in 2009 and so is a complete novice. She will fly like other falcons but on a much smaller scale and her diminutive size makes her training particularly difficult and  really underlines why kestrels are no longer considered to be beginners birds – they are just too small. She is flying well at home and has already been out on static display at an event where she was greeted with a sense of wonderment that anything so small could be a bird of prey! But I am hopeful that she will soon be part of the flying team.

The final bird in our trio is ‘Arizona’ a male Harris Hawk homebred in 2008. My other Harris hawk ‘Red’  is twenty years old and has been a wonderful bird – and continues to be so – but ‘Arizona’ I think in time will get there. He flies so well but the versatility and experience that ‘Red’ has cannot be gained over night so ‘Arizona’ is a kind of apprentice. But he will be out and about this summer taking part in our falconry displays but I will choose the events carefully for him.

So its not a case of ‘out with the old in with the new’ but a gradual changing of guard where we appreciate all that the older birds have given while at the same time looking forward to what the younger birds may offer.