On Saturday morning we drove out to the Spanish Springs Library to listen to a talk given by Marie Gaspari Crawford of the Rafter 66 Ranch in Palomino Valley. She and her apprentice, her niece Chloé (sorry if I got your name wrong!), brought two of their birds with them. Marie and her niece go around to schools with their birds to teach about the Birds of Prey.
To become a Master falconer it takes at least seven years with two years in an apprenticeship. Your bird requires a significant amount of time, every day, 365 days a year. Falconry is the only sport in America that utilizes a trained wild creature. Because all raptors are protected by state, federal, and international law, all falconers must obtain the necessary permits before obtaining a hawk or practicing falconry.
After a short slide show of the different birds of prey we were able to get close up to Marie’s Jer Falcon (Falco Islandicus), Zephyr.
Chloé’s bird, Addie, is an immature female Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) that they found in their pigeon coop. She’s a real beauty. After she molts, her breast feathers will have horizontal stripes…and her eyes will turn red (about 2 years of age).
Cooper’s Hawks are among the bird world’s most skillful flyers. They are common woodland hawks that fly through tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds…I’ve had one get a sparrow in my yard. Wish they’d go for the stupid pigeons instead.