We had an interesting experience over the holidays. Â Our daughter is dating a guy who is a falconer. Â When he came to visit, he brought his bird, a female Red-tailed Hawk, and we had the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating sport and see the bird and his trainer in action.
Every time I hear someone talk about young people critically, I think about my kids and their large group of friends. Â Even the ones who aren’t achieving in the traditional sense are still likable and respectful. Â They are more tolerant than many adults in our current polarized society. Â They spend time together regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and religious background. Â They are starting to develop their own particular sets of beliefs based on their backgrounds and experiences. Â When I see these young people, I am hopeful for our future.
I love getting to know them and learning about their lives and interesting hobbies.
On a cold winter afternoon, we went out to an old, abandoned nursery (we had permission from the owners to be there). Â We were all participants in the hunt that day.
Falconry is an ancient art with the earliest known accounts dating to 2000 BC in Mesopotamia. Â In Medieval Europe, it was known as the sport of kings.
This young man’s father is also a falconer. Â There are a lot of laws governing the capture and training of the various birds of prey that are used in this sport. Â There is also specific training and credentialing involved with the first level being an apprentice who must learn under a master falconer. Â The middle level is a general falconer which is where my daughter’s boyfriend is rated currently. Â He trained under his father who is a master falconer who also happens to have developed some training techniques that are very well-regarded in the field.
After getting the hawk ready to hunt, everyone traipsed into the field to help flush prey for the hawk to capture.
After a long while in the cold, it was clear that the hawk was not going to capture anything on this day. Â What was fascinating is that the hawk was free and could have escaped at any time.
The laws governing this sport are very restrictive and specific. Â Everything from the capture, the equipment, the training, the housing, and the documentation is quite involved. This bird was closely monitored, weighed, and fed during its stay at our home. Â It stayed in a cool room off our garage in a very specific container. Â All of the activities of the bird including what and how much food it ate, what it weighed, how it acted were meticulously logged into a notebook.
One look at the talons on this adolescent and beautiful bird reminds one that this is serious business.
Hawks and other birds used by falconers are trained using operant conditioning. Â Basically, the relationship between the bird and the trainer revolves around food. Â The bird is simply opportunistic and does not have a “relationship” with the trainer other than as a source of food.
My daughter is having great fun learning and having new experiences. Â She is attending a university that includes a lot of kids from smaller towns and rural backgrounds so she is learning about hunting, guns, archery, and other outdoor sports.
This is a long way from the dance classes, piano lessons, and Band geek activities of her youth. Â I love that she is open-minded enough to seize the opportunity to try new and exciting things that she may not have ever considered or even know about.
I had the opportunity to hold this bird. Â Her grip was surprisingly tight and while she seemed to be fairly light at first, I could see that over time it would take some muscles to hold her up just right.
DSH got a turn to hold the bird and see how she was being cared for while visiting us.
Here is my daughter with her boyfriend and the bird. Â Interesting kids. Â Interesting hobby and sport.
While this was not on my bucket list, what a great opportunity to have a new and interesting experience and adventure!