Saturday, July 11, 2009

An Ancient Sport

My step-son is a falconer. He has studied since middle school to be a leader in this ancient sport. There are many rules and regulations, and you need to study, apprentice and become licensed. It's been a delight to watch him develop his passion, and I have learned to adjust some of my preconceived notions about having birds in the house. We have entertained (been entertained by) adult Red-tailed hawks, and baby Cooper's Hawks, and everything in between. We have watched him train a variety of hawks to hunt, and have been on a hunting expedition to see his birds in action. Fascinating. And his wife is a saint:).

For years he has talked about breeding hawks, which is very intricate work. This year he achieved his goal. We were able to see his "babies" within hours of their birth, and are watching their growth to adolescence - which does not take long at all. He's so proud, and the birds are fascinating. This young Goshawk is a few weeks old. The term is Old English - "gos" for goose and "hafoc" for hawk. A raptor indigenous to North America and Eurasia, the Goshawk is the largest accipiter (bird of prey) in North America. Persistent in pursuing their prey, the Goshawk hunts squirrels, grouse, crows, snowshoe hare. There was a recorded incidence of a Goshawk pursuing a snowshoe hare over a period of 45-60 minutes before catching it.

The Goshawk grows to 20.9-25.2. inches in length, 40.6-46.1 inches of wingspan, and weigh between 22.3 and 48.1 pounds. Fast. This photo is of the last Goshawk still "at home." The others have gone to hunting homes around the state, and country, to be raised and trained to do what they do best. Hunt. Fascinating.

If you ever have a chance to watch falconers in their element - do so. It's quite a photo op, if you can be at the right place at the right time!

How many feathers do you think he has? 100? How are you coming on ideas for the 100 Post celebration, on Tuesday? I've only had a couple of people tell me they're "in." It's a challenge, but I hear it's also becoming a lot of fun!

7 comments:

Char said...

I'm going to be in - I need a challenge as I'm feeling very uninspired lately.

joyce said...

What an interesting post on an uncommon subject. I can see how proud you are of your stepson. I'm not sure I would have the stomach to actually watch any kind of hunting, but the facts you put forth are interesting....How many birds have you had at once in your house? I'd love to have a little aviary, but even my 2 budgies drive everyone else crazy!

joyce said...

Oh, and I will try my best to be "in" for tuesday!

Sandy K. said...

Joyce - I think we've had 4 birds at a time, as chicks. Adult birds, only one. That's about all you can handle, actually, with the size of the adult. He makes his own hoods for the birds, as well. It's so interesting. I do have mixed feelings about the hunting, and have only gone once. I have been there for the show of the kill, however, and taken a few photos. They aren't what you'd mount on a wall, and are even a bit raw for magazine writing. But it's nature.

Sandy K. said...

I'll count you "in" ladies...it should be great fun.

Kamana said...

i didnt realise it was tuesday. i better start thinking!

georgia b. said...

how sweet.

still working on my idea for the 100 post.