How to train falcon
The loss of our peregrine falcon
It all started during the Easter Holidays. The exhibition started. Messi, our peregrine falcon went very fast to show our visitors his agility and speed. I was thinking. “Perhaps today he will show his hunting stoop?” But suddenly a strong streak of wind hit him and dragged him into the valley under the Zoo of the Pyrenees. We tried hard to get him back home, but we didn’t find him. To read about Messi’s story, click here.
A strong sadness and frustration invaded us.
We needed a new falcon
But even though we were sad because of losing our dear Messi, we urgently needed to find another peregrine falcon. The exhibition without the spectacular flight of a falcon wouldn’t be an exhibition as it is meant to be. On the site from the Spanish falconers, we had a nasty surprise: the price for a male falcon is 600€, and for a female is 1.500€! In those days, the motor of our car disappointed us too, and it just broke. We had to buy a new car. And that’s why we couldn’t afford any further inversions.
I called a friend of mine who breeds falcons for the Arabic market, thinking that maybe he could make me a friendly price. But uf… he almost got angry at me! Not a word about discounts! He said that he wanted to give it to me for free! He said that he just ringed his falcons and that he has a male that could be perfect for us. And he sent me this picture. Wow! What a friend! He helped us in our worst moments. We had to wait 3 weeks, then the little falcon was big enough to live without his parents. We decided that we would call him Rafael, in honour to my friend.
He arrived in a pet carrier, scared, for the first time in his life without his siblings and his parents. I started the training immediately. For a falcon, it is easier to overcome the separation from its parents by an intense contact with humans, learning new things and starting to fly as early as possible.
The first things he had to learn were:
- Eat on the glove.
- Accept the hood.
- Jump from one glove to another.
They are very important steps in the relationship between the falconer and the falcon. We copy bird’s natural behaviour. In the nature, the mother falcon dedicates itself to incubate the eggs and after they hatch, she stays in the nest with her chicks. The father must hunt all the day. It’s a very exigent task, as he must find food for the whole family! He leaves the food in the nest and sometimes helps the female to feed the little ones. Three weeks later the little falcons are strong enough to tear apart the prey. So, the parents have more time to hunt and cover the huge need of food of their children. It’s a task without any break, and no one can be surprised that the parents try to make their children wise up as soon as possible and cheer them on to leave the nest, start to fly and to hunt. In that period, we often can hear very loud cries near to the nests, which come from the little ones: “Muuum, daaad, I am hungryyyy!” And the parents answer: “Well, child, if you are hungry, wise up and fly. You can do it.”
The training starts
And that step we also make it in our park. Rafa arrived with the again which the little falcons leave the nest for the first time. And we showed him the same thing that his parents would have: You want to eat? Well, boy, then make this little jump and you will eat everything you want. In this video you can see our first training. It took Rafa a while to be brave and make jump, right? 😉
Twice a day we made him fly / jump, and the flights were longer every day (sometimes also short, so Rafa would not feel frustrated).
10 days later the falcon made secure and longs flights with a lot of happiness and joy. And here we are, today we will show him the lure for the first time.
Flight to the lure
What is a lure in falconry? Well, it’s a piece of leather with ropes, and this ropes are used to fix a piece of meat. Rafa’s task in the next days will be to understand that he will no longer eat from a glove, but from this piece of leather. And when he has it very clear, he must fly longer and longer distances to catch the lure, and one day, we will trick him and just in the moment when he will want to catch his prey, we will snap it away just in front of his nose… sorry, his beak. And the falcon will have to fly a round to catch the lure. And some days later, he must make another round… yes, yes, you can imagine how this goes, until one day he will fly as a champion, as our Messi flew before flying away.
We will keep you informed about Rafa’s progress!!!