This past Thursday, my grandpa and I went to La Jolla Gliderport to a session on falcon/ raptor flying. The people teaching it were really cool. They said that in order to get the best experience with the amazing birds they brought Harris Hawks. Unlike many other birds of prey, these hawks are very sociable with each other and even hunt in groups. It is because of this that we are able to partner with them while they hunt. (Which happens to be the original purpose of falcon flying.) Apparently, hunting with falcons dates back at least 8000 years. Genghis Khan used a falcon to survive before he became a Khan. He was stranded in the desert and was in desperate need of food.
Anyways, they showed us how they feed the birds, how they teach them to hunt with a partner, how the train them, and they even let us call the birds to the glove. The hawks are trained to the glove, not the human. Each hawk is trained in a specific way. When the one we worked with saw the glove and heard, "Gimme Steam" it would fly to whomever called it. A hawk's talons can crush your bones like they were nothing; they can deliver a force of over 700 pounds per square inch. They can easily take down something considerably larger than themselves. The thing that surprised me though, is how lightly they land onto your glove. It only weighs 2 . 5 lbs, but you still would expect some of that force on your arm.
Here are some pictures that my grandpa took.
This is La Paz, the largest of the two hawks. (She's a female)
This is me working my magic.
Taking that short class has inspired me to do more. I looked on the California Hawking Club website and found how to start being an apprentice. I am going to continue on that and train a hawk or raptor of my own some day.