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Outdoorama 2016

February 29th, 2016

Outdoorama 2016

Outdoorama has always been my favorite event for many reasons.  The Outdoorama show venue out in Novi is well done and has been a proven outdoorsman crowd pleaser for many years. I also got my first introduction to the Michigan Hawking Club at this event many years ago when I started out as an apprentice.  The educational fun is also a big plus with many folks stopping by the Hawk Club booth in order to check out our raptors and to learn more about falconry in Michigan. Many folks are surprised to learn that the sport of falconry is alive and well in the state of Michigan and that people actually practice falconry.

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HawkFest 2015

September 20th, 2015

HawkFest 2015

This past weekend was the annual 2015 HawkFest at Lake Erie MetroPark in Brownstown Township, Michigan.  This annual event celebrates the migration of raptors from Canada as they cross the ‘land-bridge’ from Ontario to Michigan and continue their way to their winter resting grounds.   If the migration is timed correctly, and the weather is good, the migration of hundreds of thousands of hawks can be observed.  The weather this past Saturday was not the greatest for bird watching, raptor migrations, or outdoor nature events, but after the front cleared out the humidity and the rain, the afternoon turned out to be an enjoyable Saturday afternoon. The hawk flights picked up in the afternoon and raptors could be observed readily in the afternoon hours.  Several Osprey, Bald Eagles, and smaller accipiters could be observed from the main viewing area.  A small kettle of Broad-Winged Hawks formed over the nature center for a few brief minutes as nature enthusiasts looked on with binoculars.

A few club members, including myself spent time out in the trapping/banding blind catching Coopers Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks.  Each year, licensed bird banders trap, band, and collect measurements on the migrating raptors that traverse across the river to keep moving on from their northern territory.  The biggest migrating hawk by the numbers is  the Broad-Winged Hawk.  Members of the Michigan Hawking Club an other local nature organizations come to the HawkFest to share their love of raptors with others and enjoy all of nature’s gifts.  In addition, many members of the Michigan Hawking Club donate their time and expertise in Falconry to come to the event for the day to provide Hawk Talks to HawkFest attendees.

The picture below, taken by Krystal Hoag shows Cedar and myself presenting falconry lore to a few of the onlookers attending the event this past Saturday.  There were many folks who took in the celebration of raptor migration and on Sunday the Club Booth was well attended.  This is one of the tenants of the Michigan Hawking Club, to provide educational programs and ‘HawkTalks’  to interested attendees.

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MUCC Outdoorama 2013

February 25th, 2013

MUCC Outdoorama 2013

The M.U.C.C. Outdoorama was this February 22-25 at the suburban showplace collection in Novi, Michigan. This is an annual show event that provides a wonderful educational experience for folks who are interested in the outdoors and outdoor recreation. It’s always a good time to introduce folks to raptors in an up close and personal manner.

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Educational Falconry

January 30th, 2013

Educational Falconry

Recently I had the most wonderful opportunity to give a Falconry Presentation to Cub Scout Pack 37 in Lake Orion Michigan. As my son and I are now involved in Cub Scouts, this was a great opportunity to present some basic falconry concepts to some young learners. Educational programs about falconry, or “Hawk-Talks” as some of us like to call them are a great way to expand young peoples’ appreciation of animals. Discussing aspects of falconry and hunting also opens up concepts of ecosystems and food webs in the wilderness. It is a rewarding experience to know that you were the person who first introduced someone to the magic of all that nature has to share with us.

While there are some aspects of falconry that are difficult for children achieve and master due to the responsibility, time, and monetary demands, there are other concepts that can be taught to children that can be made easy to understand. There are many other wildlife lessons and learning opportunities for children in the sport of falconry; you just need to frame the content and concepts at their level. Food Webs, Predator-Prey Relationships, and natural selection are just a few of these topics. With a little effort and thought, meaningful lessons can be taught from the world of falconry that children and other family members can take with them.

One of the most common questions I get as a falconer is: “How did you get into falconry? What made you want to do that?” There are lots of personal reasons for doing so, but my number one reason for becoming a falconer is that I love birds of prey. When it comes right down to it, I hold a deep and healthy respect and admiration for these birds that I can only describe as love. I enjoy learning about their different personalities and I enjoy being out in nature as a participant with them. I use this passion in my educational talks in the hopes that young people might learn to enjoy the natural beauty found in the wilderness. There are many wonderful things to bear witness to in nature such as the way the plants and trees grow into oddly shaped branches, the way that the moss and lichens color the tree bark, and the varied degrees of color displayed by shelf fungus and mushrooms. I make sure to include these observations as part of my presentations. The things that you can see out in the woods can be found nowhere else, and are only found off the beaten path.

The sport of falconry also provides opportunities to discuss and educate young learners on food webs and ecology. The purpose of the hawk hunting rabbits or squirrels is so that they can eat and survive. The game of survival in the wilderness is a high-stakes game where the winners take all and the losers get eaten. The hawk plays the role in the ecological food web as the top predator. As the apex predator, their job is to keep the little critter population in check. Food webs that show the animals and trees in forests or marsh habitats contain many prey animals, but only a few predator animals at the top. I like to think of falconers as observers in the natural predator-prey relationship that plays out every day in the wilderness. The privilege to be a close hunting partner with the hawk is one of the most rewarding aspects of falconry for me. When I re-tell these tales of my falconry adventures, it is my hope that the audience can really get good picture of how enjoyable the sport of falconry can be.

Falconry as a sport rewards me every day that I interact and hunt with my raptor. The joy of educating other folks about raptors and falconry is an additional personal enjoyment that only comes from sharing the things you love with others.

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OutDoorama 2012

April 1st, 2012

Outdoorama 2012

Here’s the booth from the Outdoorama expo this past month.  The expo was less attended this year due to the inclement weather on Friday.  It snowed considerably during the course of the day and the turnout at the show was light.  Sable was not in attendance with me today, but I was able to share my falconry experiences with others and share some hawking stories with the falconry folks. This event is a big personal favorite of mine for several reasons.  The Outdoorama expo was my first interaction with raptors and the Michigan Hawking Club. I am always excited to share my falconry experiences with others and share my enthusiasm of hawks, falcons, and owls.

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