After “setting the scene” with some of what is known about Falconry’s inception, we’ll roll up our sleeves.
Its time at this point to get outside and move. By taking the feathered for a walk, or “manning” them, Joanne encourages students to begin sensitizing themselves to how raptors communicate with their human stewards – that is to say, understanding the coarse rudiments of raptor body language.
Returning to the studio, the discussion turns to the more common health ailments encountered in the stewardship of raptors. This leads very nicely into cleaning their feet!
After the lunch-break, we introduce participants to footage comparing, (among other things), the differences between how falcons and hawks fly, and some great material from the National Geographic team who established – once and for all – the accepted top speed of the fastest living being on Earth: the Peregrine falcon.
If there is time before the first day’s flying session, there’ll be a coping (ie: “raptor dentistry”), or equipment making demonstration (ie: jesses, aylmeri).
Its then time to head to our outdoor “Classroom” to get in some flying; students will cap off a very full first day by trying their hand at lure-swinging, and flying our Red Tail to the glove.
The following day we’ll recap (think of it as a “pop” quiz) all of the physical techniques introduced the previous day, including another session of “manning”, (but no chance today either of running the garden-hose…we just don’t do that to our students).
We now cover casting – the act of safely holding the bird to enable coping or first-aid issues to be addressed, or to ‘dress’ the raptor with anklets and jesses. This is a nuanced skill – not a wrestling match, and takes considerable practice to develop confidence.
Whichever demonstration was not covered the previous day will now be covered. For example, if equipment-making was put aside, participants will now have the chance to make jesses or aylmeri which they’ll be welcome to take home as mementos.
It’s once again time to head back out to the outdoor “Classroom” for more flying! Students will again practice their basic lure-swing with the falcons, and enjoy some shared following-on games with ‘Mohave’.
Students are encouraged to take notes for posterity, to ask questions, and to take lots of photographs. Handouts and pens are provided, and there will be a 1-hour lunch break each day at a marvelous café located in nearby Chemainus.
This makes a fantastic gift any time – we’ve even had couples join us on this course to celebrate anniversaries, or to surprise each other with a wonderful “mystery date”!
Our weekend Falconry program is a tremendous experience for young people considering careers in veterinary medicine, an excellent adjunct experience for those all ready involved in veterinary care or rehabilitation work, (we’ve been honoured to have several vets take our program), or anyone drawn to birds-of-prey who feels the powerful desire to learn more about them in a safe, enjoyable environment.
- Every effort is made to ensure the interactions between “Team Feathers” and our guests are safe. This said, birds-of-prey are not pets, and thus must be approached with respect.
- The minimum age for participation in our course offerings is 12 years, with parent accompaniment to age 14.
- “Team Feathers” visit their friend, Dr. Chris Collis DVM, for twice-yearly physical assessments, and are certified healthy and disease-free. This is incredibly important to us as our feathered-companions are involved in work which routinely puts them up-close-and-personal with professional performers and the public.
- All course fees must be paid in full prior to attendance. As we limit the number of participants in our programs to enable the best possible ratio of student-to-mentor interaction, we often have wait lists of individuals hoping to join us last-minute. In consideration of others, we ask for your understanding and respect for this requirement. A non-refundable admin-fee of $50 will be levied for cancellations.