- Andrew Shirley
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Falconry, or hawking, is defined as the taking of live quarry using trained birds of prey, and was first recorded in China in 244 AD. Throughout the centuries since, the sport has continued to elicit a feeling of tradition, excitement, splendour and pageantry. Although today falconry is arguably as popular as it has ever been, it is still true to say that most members of the public know little about this ancient sport, and even fewer have had first-hand experience of what, to some of us, is a way of life.
While we certainly do not wish to encourage everyone to take up the sport, we understand the fascination that raptors (birds of prey and owls) hold for many people. In today’s “green” society, many people realise that raptors are a barometer for conservation, and would dearly love to be able to get up close to real, living eagles, falcons, owls and other raptors.
We also understand the fascination with the historical aspects of this ancient tradition, and are extremely keen to ensure that these traditions are maintained, and passed on the next generation. During our demonstrations, we use traditional methods and language, explaining their meaning and origins to our audience. These include the falconry origins of many everyday phrases, such as “fed up”, “boozer”, “cadge”, “apprentice” and many more.
In our displays, we simulate the sport of falconry, using live raptors in conjunction with inanimate dummies (lures), while still conveying the spirit, excitement and glory of this ancient sport, and understanding and empathising with people’s sensibilities. This enables guests to see the spectacle and get as close as humanly possible to a wide range of tame raptors, and also have the opportunity to have their questions answered by knowledgeable and professional enthusiasts.
Through our displays, visitors can see the way in which the modern falconer trains birds, and assure themselves of the well-being of all concerned. At the same time, through experiential learning, visitors have the opportunity to see a wide range of well-behaved raptors, under strictly controlled conditions that will safeguard the health and safety of all concerned.