Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Hawking Club’

MHC Summer Family Picnic

July 28th, 2013

MHC Summer Family Picnic

The Annual Michigan Hawking Club Summer Family Picnic was this weekend and it was a great time, right up until the rain hit.  The photo above was taken just in time before the down pour started getting everyone wet, including the birds.  There were many folks who came to share in the wonderful joy of our sport.  We also had some new birds on display this weekend, with many falconers proving background stories, history, and hunting adventures with the folks that came. It was a great day for raptor lovers with the Michigan Hawking Club.


Cedar was my ambassador for the day, as she did a great job perching for  photos and sat graciously perched on the glove for a few impromptu hawk talks.  Falconers from all over the state brought their birds as well.  Pictured below are a few of the other Raptors that came and were perched for photo-ops and admiration.  The bonus experience for me for the day was holding the Goshawk after coping.

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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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MHC Winter Field Meet 2013

February 12th, 2013

MHC Winter Field Meet 2013

The annual Michigan Hawking Club Winter Field Meet was hosted in DeWitt Michigan on Saturday February 2nd, 2013. This year was another great turnout for fans of Raptors and high-powered bird watching.  The day was filled with Falconry, hunting adventures, and all the ‘Hawk-Talk’ you could handle.  I spent the morning out hunting with a large group of folks and the afternoon at the Community Center being an ambassador to aspiring falconers.  It was a long day of falconry culture and I enjoyed every minute of it.


Cedar and I led a hunt with over 30 people in the hunting party on a cold February day.  Our morning started out by assembling the hunting party by getting folks organized and arranged in a convoy to drive out to the hunting spot.  After a fifteen minute ride out to a vacant field behind a shopping center, we got jessed up and donned our hunting gear.  I gave a quick introduction to Cedar and our faclonry hunt and then we were off into the field.  The hunting morning provided a great show to all those folks who came out to get an introduction into falconry.  Cedar was exceptionally gracious in flying close to the group and giving great chases on the rabbits that flushed.  For a young bird and a large crowd in the field, she did a great job and put on quite the show with several great chases, spectacular flights, and a great wing-over that just missed the mark.  It was a successful hunt, but no game in the pouch.

A second hunt after Cedar’s was with a goshawk.  The spectator gallery watched off to the side for this hunt, as goshawks can be quite picky about the hunting conditions and other folks in the field.  A short hunt in a small meadow flushed one bunny and two pheasants, which were quite unexpected considering the cold weather conditions for the day. The small hunting crew consisting of the Austringer (holding the goshawk) and a few brush-beaters walked the perimeter of the meadow and around a corn field before springing a pheasant from it’s hideout.  I snapped this picture during the hunt and captured a great shot of the action.


Once I was back at the community center and ate a great lunch (the White Chicken-Chili was the *BEST* ), I had some time to talk to other falconers with their birds as well as other first-time visitors to the winter field meet.  One of the falconers brought her Golden Eagle, a rehabilitation animal, to the meet to show folks.  I was amazed at the size of this amazing raptor as well as the intensity of the eyes.  She had a great personality and was good ambassador for falconry. 

The other raptor that stole the show was ‘Yepa’, the Snowy Owl that was trapped in early December.  The falconer had been training her for two months and said that while the training was going well, that she was far from being free flown for hunting.   Owls, while intelligent, are difficult to train because of their personalities.   Owls do not follow the same basic training patterns as other raptors because of their hunting adaptations and methods.  Hearing and auditory cues are a big part of the training program and it’s up to the falconer to figure out what sounds and attentions that the owl responds to during the training.  Yepa, the “White Princess” was very well mannered while on the falconers glove and was amazingly alert and focused while on display.  I was personally awe-struck at her disposition and the amazing color of the eyes.   I can only imagine what training a Snowy Owl would entail.


New Folks

My day would not be complete if I didn’t have several ‘Hawk-Talks’ with folks looking to learn more about raptors and the sport of falconry.  I usually bring in Cedar after a little bit of lunch and a few minutes of rest.  Once Cedar came inside for a short educational session, I enlisted the aid of one of participants to help me with Cedar’s beak.  After several months in captivity, Cedar’s beak began to get quite large and was in need of coping.  Coping is like trimming your nails, but for raptors.  So with my assistant’s help, he held Cedar while I performed the coping on Cedar and made her look more dignified.  The assistant was grateful for the opportunity to assist and he learned something about caring for raptors.  In fact, he said that it made his day.  I was glad that I could provide a good experience for him. 

The Annual Michigan Hawking Club Winter Field Meet is a time of year that I look forward to with great anticipation.  It’s somewhat like “Christmas” for falconry, as there are many folks to visit with, goodies to eat, and a variety of falconry goods and wares to look through during the auction. I hope to continue to be part of such a great event for many more years to come with the Michigan Hawking Club.





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Early December Falconry

December 10th, 2012

Early December Falconry

Michigan Hawking Club West Side Field Meet

The Michigan Hawking Club hosted a west-side field meet this past weekend in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  This is a gathering of falconers from across the state who help out not only with falconry adventures for folks in the club, but also by putting on a falconry program for the Boy Scouts.  Several members of the club bring their raptors for an educational program for Boy Scouts interested in earning their “Birding Badge” in the boy scouts.  The educational program is lead by a master falconer for the local boy scout troop and other falconers assist where needed with their birds by putting on additional demonstrations.

Club members who are interested in additional falconry experience can go out with falconers for hunting expeditions in the morning and the afternoon.  Our group went out early in the morning to a local hunting spot that was close to the Boy Scout center for a morning hunting expeidition.  The hunting was difficult in the early part of the day due to the covering of snow that coated all the brush and trees in the morning.  I flew Cedar for the group and she did extremely well for  a young Red-Tailed hawk out for the first time with such a large group of people.  Typically, young hawks have difficulty hunting with large groups of people at first, as they are usually used to only the falconer in the field as a hunting partner. When you add an additional ten brush-beaters to the hunting party, the activity can sometimes get to be too much for the young hawk.  Cedar followed along just fine and took several stoops at running cotton-tails in the early part of the day.  She pulled fur on one and the morning came to a close for us.

Cedar’s Progress

During one of my recent hunting expeditions, I was able to capture this short clip of Cedar returning to the glove for a tidbit.  She has been hunting very well, taking stoops and dives on rabbits on each field outing.  She follows the hunting party (usually me and another falconer) very well and responds to direction and encouragement while out in the field.  I’m very excited for her progress and ability to follow and pay close attention while out in the field.



I was lucky enough to be able to meet this wonderful Gyrfalcon, named “Luna” this past weekend (below). With all the other falconers at the field meet this weekend, there were great opportunities to learn new things and to “talk hawking” with friends.  These meets are great for that, as well as getting to see and visit up close with different birds and learn about them.

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Apprentice Workshop

July 26th, 2012

Apprentice Workshop

One of the best MHC Events during the summer (off hunting season) that falconry can offer is the Apprentice workshop that the MHC puts on for aspiring falconers. This the best event for young falconers to get to know members of the club, discuss finer topics of falconry, as well as get some hand’s on experience with making equipment. This is a workshop that the experienced club members put on for new, upcoming falconers to learn more about the details and particulars of this fine sport.

The schedule created for the event is designed to cover the wide range of topics is a full one and takes a full day to complete. While a one-day course taught by experienced falconers is not quite a comprehensive orientation, it is a good start by which someone can make some intelligent decision making about continuing to persue the sport.
* Photography credits to Deborah O.

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