I am absolutely fascinated by falconry. Partly for the same reason I like working with and training dogs: The teamwork you can establish between human and animal, the challenge of maximising the potential of that relationship. When you work with a bird of prey, the great challenge is that every time you let the bird fly off it will only come back to your fist if you have established that it’s a beneficial deal for the bird. Contrary to dogs, birds of prey have not been bred to please humans. When you call your hawk, it will ask itself: “What’s in it for me” before returning. So you are absolutely forced to positively reinforce that behaviour. Besides the team-work aspect, it also appeals to what probably is a primal desire to hunt. Working with a goshawk or peregrine hunting pheasants or pigeons or with a Harris Hawk hunting rabbits is an amazing feeling.
If I had the time, I would have a little mew with a Harris hawk and a Goshawk, but they need to be flown every single day, so that’ll have to await my retirement. In the meantime I will take a long weekend at a falconry centre “renting” some birds and pretend for a while they are mine 🙂