Falconry: Pure Natural Awesomeness

| 11/18/2014 2:19:00 PM

Jamie Cearley, PhDCyrus knew he had a good thing going. He was in the best shape of his life, muscular and full of energy. He knew the system, had honed his skills, and most of all knew who he could count on. He could assess an opportunity and calculate the risks verses the investment in an instant. He could afford to let lesser opportunities slip by seeing as they came so often in those days. When the big one presented itself, he was ready to jump on it with a tenacity and fervor like nothing you’ve ever seen. Crashing through the forest, barrel rolling, stalking from above, tearing nests to shreds with his sharp and powerful talons, he would pursue his prey with vigor. Cyrus was an athlete and a relentless squirrel hunter. Cyrus, my husband’s falconry partner, was a Red Tail hawk.

Cyrus In Tree

Cyrus no doubt thought his life was over when he was acquired as a first-year bird. He didn’t know it, but in reality, his chances at long-term survival had just increased by an order of magnitude. Most Red Tail hawks do not survive their first winter. Cyrus would not only survive, he would be afforded the opportunity to perfect his hunting skills over the long winter. By spring, he would have conditioned himself to such a state that his long-term outlook would be quite promising. His training began immediately.

Cyrus On Glove

To be prepared for the first hunt with his human partner, Cyrus was going to need to build his flight muscles as well as his recognition of the falconer as a faithful and steady food source. Lengthening flights to the glove, repetitious short vertical flights, and simulated hunts, all of which faithfully ended in success for Cyrus in the form of a full-bodied meal, comprised his training. Before long, he was ready for an authentic hunt. That’s when the real fun began.

Using his developed flight muscles, Cyrus was able to lift himself high into the forest canopy. He could make the best use of his keen eyesight from above. He knew that following the falconer was his best chance at cashing in on a big catch so he would stick near to us, flying from branch to branch and tree to tree as we moved along the ground attempting to spook up prey.

11/19/2014 9:00:56 AM

Jamie, great post about Falconry. Nice touch to tie in life lessons to be learned from the actions of nature. Most gardeners do not like wildlife in their gardens. I try to live in harmony with wildlife. My garden is being fenced to keep the ravenous sweet corn lovers out but then I plant their garden so they have their share as well. It's only right that they should get a share because I was the one that invaded their space. I have learned that those wild animals can be a bit greedy so precautions have been taken to keep them out of my garden that's doesn't involve trapping or killing. So far, other than the sweet corn, I've been able to live in harmony with the wildlife. Have a great Falconry day.

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