Monday, July 1, 2013

Falconry Update

Yesterday morning Ed Hepp, my mentor, came to the farm to help me plan a location for the Mews. What's a Mews? It's a small aviary for a trained bird of prey, also called a Hawk House. The federal regulations for falconers says that every bird must have an 8x8' space to perch, spread it's wings, bath, and have proper airflow through ventilated windows . It also needs a door for its handler to come and go, clean and feed. Ed and I walked all around my property but decided at last to build the Mews right next to the farmhouse. I have a month to buy the materials and put it together with the help of some friends and neighbors. I also need to put together a "weathering area" which is kind of like a chicken run for a hawk, and gather the rest of the supplies the state demands I have on hand before I apply to trap a bird this fall. It seems like I should have more time, but I don't. By August first I will need to have a Mews, weathering area, gear, and then a New York Game Warden come and inspect it so all is legal. Whew. I'm a little overwhelmed just thinking about it!

After the site was designated Ed and I just talked. We talked about training, hooding, trapping and the modern history of the sport. You can tell how much Ed loves Falconry, something he has been doing for over sixty years. He caught his first bird when he was thirteen, learning from books written in the 1400's a librarian found for him. I feel so lucky to have him as my mentor, honored really. Ed has so much to teach me and his descriptions of the first few weeks of training my Red Tail felt a little daunting, but I know I can do this. I have this image in my head of Me, Merlin, and the hawk heading out along a mountain trail to hunt together. It feels like something that is supposed to happen. Ed told me yesterday that "Falconers are born, not made" a quote from long ago by a famous falconer in the 1800s. Sixty years into the sport he has seen a lot of people come and go, some more reputable than others, but the people who are truly skilled at this and honestly love these amazing raptors are the ones who are the most successful.

I feel very fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with local Falconers and different species of trained birds. Ed has a goshawk, pictured above. It's a hybrid Siberian, part African (I think?). At the British School of Falconry, where I work as an archery instructor, there are Harris Hawks and eagles and while I'm not qualified to handle them, I do get to learn about them through the instructors there. It's a dream job for me, to be around all these archers and falconers and get paid to do it. And even if I only get to ask the occasional question about feeding, housing, or training with Rob and Dawn I still get to ask it. That never happened in my other office.

August First or Bust!