Posts Tagged ‘conservation’


August 1st, 2011


I have observed Merlins (Falco columbarius) in the wild on a few previous occasions.  They are spactacular arialists and fly far and fast.  This past weekend at the Michigan Hawking Club Summer Picnic, I was able to get some great photos of a recently captured Merlin.  There were several Merlins that were trapped by the Michigan Hawking Club in coordination with the USFWS, Michigan Department of Agriculture, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Northern Michigan earlier this spring.  This project which saved the natural resources of our state and provided the use of trapping as a non-lethal means of removing these highly efficient hunters from their hunting grounds along the sand dunes.  One of their favorite shorebirds is the Piping Plover, an endangered species that nests along the sandy beaches of the Lake Michigan Shoreline.  Removal of the Merlins predating on the Piping Plovers ensures the success of the established breeding pairs along the lakeshore.

The photo above is one of several great shots that I took on Saturday of this wonderful little guy.  I look forward to hearing of his hunting adventures the next time I talk with my fellow falconers!

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Tahoe’s Release Back to the Wild

April 3rd, 2011

Tahoe’s Release Back to the Wild

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It was nearly 18 months ago when my first hawk trapping adventures were successful and I captured my first red-tailed hawk.  A milestone accomplished in my falconry adventure, but it was really just the beginning.  Two successful seasons of training and hunting have culminated into a wonderful falconry experience as I release my first passage bird, Tahoe, back to the wild this weekend.  She is a well-manned hawk, has a wonderfully calm personality and adapted to many different falconry situations with ease.  She was a wonderful educational ambassador for many of the programs and events that I participated with my sponsor.  She received many compliments from fellow falconers on her manning and I was equally pleased with her disposition. Honestly, I cannot take credit for her demeanor, I think I just got lucky to trap such a great bird who manned well and trained quickly. It is with great mixed emotions that I release her back to the wilderness and the life she must lead alone, but I know deep in my heart that this is what must be done.

I’ve been preparing for this day since the adventure started.  A wild hawk is just that:  a wild animal.  I borrowed her from the wild for short time to learn from her and participate in her adventures. We trained together in the beginning in order to establish a good working relationship.  The training experience is all about perspective; if you look at training from the bird’s perspective, then you might say that the hawk allows the falconer to participate.  Without this perspective on falconry, one can not truly appreciate the relationship between the falconer and the hawk.  It is for this perspective and appreciation of my wild hawk that I fully intended to release her back to the wild. My deep appreciation for these beautiful animals is what turned my on to falconry in the first place;  I have no intention of turning my back on these principles now, even after all of the investment into training. In order to completely honor Tahoe and her purpose in the wild, I must release her back into the wilderness where she belongs.

Another aspect of falconry that is a consideration here is my own education.  In order to continue to improve my apprenticeship skills, I believe that I continuously need to improve upon the skills that make a good falconer.  I cannot refine my manning and training practices with the same bird.  I need another training opportunity in order to continue growing as a falconer.  Yet another reason for releasing Tahoe this year and planning for another bird next fall.

I spent two weeks after her last hunt fattening her up with good portions of rich nourishment each day so that she had a good start on her re-introduction into the wild.  During this two weeks, I weighed her once and left her alone in the mews to settle down from human interaction.  When I took this approach last spring, it took her five days to react to me like a freshly trapped red-tail.  She bounced around the mews and wasn’t interested in coming to the glove at all. This year, she has fattened up nicely and is ready for release.  I went out to the mews to get her and she bounded up to my glove without any hesitation.  I took her out to the truck, opened up the giant hood, and she bounced right in.  We drove out to a field where we took a few pictures and released her.  She took a few seconds to gather herself, standing on the fist, and then leapt into the air.  It was a bittersweet moment for sure, but one that I’m proud of and I’ll treasure our days hunting for many years to come.

After we released Tahoe, we watched her for a few minutes adjust to her new perch. It was in this moment that I said my farewell to my wonderful hunting partner for the last two winters.

The Future…

So the falconry journey closes one chapter today and continues on to another. What will the future hold?  What kind of bird will I have next time?  I plan on trapping another red-tailed hawk in the fall and begin the manning process and training program as soon as progress allows.  This will further develop my training techniques and falconry education so that I can gain more experience with red-tails that continues my falconry experience for next time.


** Photo credits go to my lovely wife, who was supportive and helpful throughout these past few years of my apprenticeship.  Her support of me and falconry means the world to me. Thank you sweetie!

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Injured Bald Eagle Rescued

March 14th, 2011

Injured Bald Eagle Rescued

Photo courtesy of

* Photo Courtesy of

Here a link to an article about an injured Bald Eagle that was captured with the help of members of the Michigan Hawking Club.  News Article

There is also a follow up article about the DNR catching the guy that shot the Eagle.

This is great awareness for conservation efforts that go on around us.  Eagles are protected species and it is due to that legislation that the Eagle numbers are increasing around the state.  It’s so wonderful to see Bald Eagles  more often in Michigan.  Way to go, Michigan Falconers who helped rescue the Eagle and continue to foster it’s rehabilitation and nurse it back to health.




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The Public Image of Falconry

December 11th, 2009

The Public Image of Falconry

Recently, some falconer out there in Internet-land posted a video of his falconry adventures on YouTube.  The video portrays an immature hawk on his first kill, a wild black-tailed jackrabbit.  During the video, the falconer botches the dispatch of the hare by stretching the spine.  The hare is clearly alive during 7 minutes of the video while the hawk is feeding on the agonizing hare.  It’s a graphic video to be sure, but it also presents a very false image of falconry to the general public who can view the video.  In the hands of anti-hunting groups, this video has the potential and power to severely damage the image of falconry on a global level.

Honor Your Quarry

It is an ethical practice of falconry to honor your quarry and dispatch of them quickly to end suffering of the animal caught by your raptor.  Any biologist will tell you that the predator-prey relationship can get quite gruesome in the wild. As falconers, we (most falconers) set a higher standard for ourselves for the way we treat the game animals that our raptors catch. Noble quarry that is pursued by our raptors deserves to be treated with respect and dignity by being dispatched properly and quickly to avoid any unecessary suffering by the animal.

The Face of Falconry

Videos and stories like the one posted on YouTube provide convincing arguments for the anti-hunter movements that exist around the world and in our country, namely PETA and HSUS.  These organizations form a strong opposition to hunters, sportsmen, and falconers. So why is falconry in danger when these issues come up and not other sports like deer hunting or fishing? First of all, falconry is a specialization sport that is highly regulated by the USFWS and state DNR’s. Since falconry is so specialized, difficult to get into, and not highly popular, falconry does not have mainstream support or as many enthusiasts as fishing or deer hunting.  Falconry can be easily sidelined by larger political groups such as PETA and HSUS.

Mainstream hunting and fishing groups have a multi-million dollar industry behind them that support the participation in outdoor activities. Thier lobbying groups and political connections ensure the survival of the hunting and fishing industries.  Falconry, while part of the general ‘Hunting’ groups, is still specialized and regulated enough to suffer sever blows to the advancement and propagation of falconry in the United States.

It Only Takes One

Keeping the public image of falconry displayed in a favorable light is the responsibility of all falconers.  It only takes one falconry video with poorly chosen footage to be shown to anti-hunting groups, or un-informed public folks to give them a bad impression of what falconry is about.   This truly is not the view, nor the practice of falconry at large.

UPDATE: Recent Developments

Since the publication of this article, several emails were sent to Falconry enthusiasts around the world and the author of the video has since taken the video down from YouTube. The questionable content is no longer available to the general public.  Several comments on the YouTube home indicate that the video-poster recieved several emails from falconers across the world, giving him their opinion of his falconry skills.  He welcomes the criticism, but seems to lack the maturity to learn and grow from other falconers in the community.  One video critic and anti-falconer’s  comment was: “Thanks for the ammo” which means that the anti-hunting group  was going to use it against the falconry community.

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International Vulture Awareness Day: Sept. 5th

September 3rd, 2009


September 5th, 2009

The International Association for Falconry and the Conservation of Birds of Prey:
Representing over 30,000 falconers in over 53 Nations worldwide and being a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature,

Concerned by the alarming decline in Vulture numbers, worldwide, representing the most pressing issue regarding the Conservation of Birds of Prey and one of the greatest threats to Biodiversity internationally,

Recognizing that several species of Asian Vultures are virtually extinct as a result of exposure to the veterinary drug, Diclofenac, that African Vultures have suffered dramatic declines as a result of poisoning for use in traditional medicines and other causes, while species of American Vultures have similarly experienced drastic declines,

Calls on all Governments and Government Conservation agencies, Conservation Organizations and People who are concerned for Nature and the Environment to support the Conservation of Vultures in any way that they have in their power, For information visit and pledge your support for this vital issue.

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