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A Fascination with Falconry

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

Where I live in Brooklyn, all my windows face a sweet little city park, which is also home to a red-tailed hawk I've affectionately named Raul. I love glancing up from work and seeing Raul the Red-Tailed Hawk soaring to land atop the tallest tree in the park, directly across from me. He's become my work-from-home mascot, and it's exciting to see him fly by because I never thought I'd become familiar with a hawk living in Brooklyn. Surprisingly, they're not a rare bird in New York City, where one named Pale Male has even become famous!

Having respected and appreciated Raul from afar, it would be so cool to have a falconry lesson and get up close and personal with birds of prey. Several fantastic hotel resorts offer this opportunity, and if you share my fascination with these impressive creatures, let me know so I can book you an unforgettable experience on your next adventure! One example is at Scotland's Gleneagles Hotel, where you can take lessons from their falconer, Emma Ford, who shares some fun falconry facts below.

Excerpt below from March 20, 2017 Virtuoso article by Justin Paul can be found HERE.

Emma Ford has flown birds of prey around the world for more than 45 years. She and her husband, Steve, founded The British School of Falconry, which teaches guests ages 4 and older to handle and fly Harris’s hawks year-round at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland.

LARGEST BIRD YOU FLY: Fatty, our female golden eagle, with a 7.5-foot wingspan.

WHEN YOU PLAY FAVORITES, IT’S … Smithy, my gyrfalcon-peregrine hybrid, who I fly at red grouse on the Scottish moors. He’s a strong character!

THE FIRST TIME A HAWK GRIPS YOUR ARM, YOU’LL FEEL … As one guest put it, “God must love me very much to allow me to experience this.”

FALCONRY SLANG THAT’S GREAT FOR CASUAL CONVERSATION: “I hit the bowse last night”: Bowsing refers to hawks drinking, hence our modern word “booze.”

LITTLE-KNOWN FACT ABOUT FALCONERS: We’re not all stuffy old men in tweed!

FAVORITE LOCAL DISTILLERY: Edradour, Scotland’s smallest single-malt distillery, 30 minutes from Gleneagles. Writer Iain Banks described it as “a sort of distillery in miniature, which you want to wrap up and put under the Christmas tree.”

SINGLE-MALT DRINKING TIP: Save some of the bottle to drizzle over smoked salmon.

TRUE OR FALSE: NEVER LOCK EYES WITH A HUNGRY HAWK. False. They don’t recognize you as prey – unless you strongly resemble a rabbit!



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