“The Falconer must not be one who belittles his art and dislikes the labor involved in his calling. He must be diligent and persevering, so much so that as old age approaches he will still pursue the sport out of pure love of it. For, as the cultivation of an art is long and new methods are constantly introduced, a man should never desist in his efforts but persist in its practice while he lives, so that he may bring the art itself nearer to perfection.”
“The Art of Falconry” Ch. XLVII
Of Falconers and Their Qualifications,
Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen
There is much about working with any non-human being which might be said to be “lacking in glamour”. There are days, weeks and months which pass without accolade where one discovers the motivation for pursuing a vocation of animal stewardship and schooling.
But it is in those moments where horse, hawk or hound reveal to us something we couldn’t have imagined in them, suspend us out of our clumsy, Earth-bound bodies by showing us the purity of their joy-in-being, or teach us something about ourselves that we discover the fire of perseverance.
Birds-of-prey are emotionally complete creatures — they remember, anticipate, dream…noted scientists have witnessed them grieving. These are not “feathered machines” motivated only by the desire for food. My apprentices and I acknowledge the being-ness of the raptors in our care without making the mistake of confusing anthropopathism with anthropomorphism. Our Companions know themselves to be respected, and loved; this was the critical nuance in the approach Frederick II took, and it is my path also.
And this is why — knowing full-well he is, and at his core always will be wild — it was possible for me to put a little falcon like ‘Connor’ on the arm of a three-year-old, and with conviction know both of them were safe.
As has been the case with all the raptors I’ve been privileged to learn from and work with over the last eight-plus years, “Team Feathers” acquires trust in us because they’ve been given no reason to doubt they’re safe in making that choice. We “win” their trust a little more every day.
Our goal and purpose is to educate, and inspire…to awaken awe and wonder in-person, and through the eye of the camera, and to ensure there will always be wild places with eagles, hawks and falcons living in them.
Come join me, won’t you, in celebration of those born with wings…