More than a hunting
Falconry is one of the oldest methods of hunting in the history of human being. There is no hard evidence as to exactly when and where man first trained a bird of prey, but the art of falconry was already well established in the Middle and Far East by 2000 B.C. Falconry is still practiced today as it was then, but some elements of modernity has been added. Like transmitter and receiver, attached to bird’s feet to find them if they fly far away. Falconry is more than just a hunting method, it is a way of life and people who are into it are passionate about the field and the birds.
The falconers spend lot of money and time to train the bird; they spend lots of time to fly birds almost every day, except in days which weather does not have a good condition for flight like being a rainy day. Therefore, they need to check weather forecast every day. Chicken and rats are good source of nutrition for the bird and they need to be aware of the food they have stored for their birds. In addition, they weight both the bird and the food taken by the bird daily to be aware of weight of them not to become so fat, as a heavy bird might not feel like lying and returning to falconer in daily flies.
So taking care of the bird makes falconers busy, which might make them not be able to spend enough time with their families in some case.
Young girl flying the European Bald Eagle in Falkecenter.
Keeping the art alive
Living under restrictions, falconers still try to keep the art alive. Holding falconry classes for young generation, falconry shows for public in falconry clubs or giving speech in museums about the history of interaction between Vikings and birds of prey in Denmark, are activities is being done by falconers.
One of these places, is EagleWorld at Skagensvej in north of Denmark, a place where rare species of eagles and vultures like sea eagle or bearded vulture are kept. During the year, Peter Frank Wenzel and his team members perform a show with birds of prey for the public in order to make them familiar with birds of prey and falconry. Among visitors, there are children. It is an opportunity for them to see the difference between falcons and eagles in their shape, weight, flying technics and behavioral features.
The falconers try to bring the eagles between audiences by feeding them chicken.
At the other end of the country, in a small island Samsø, Louise Vedel Munk-Petersen an experienced falconer with help from Christina lorenzen runs the Falkecenter, putting on shows for public and breeding birds of prey. In the center, they also give classes for teenagers who are interested in falconry.
“We have students who were dealing with problems like depression but by joining our classes they are in a much better condition now,” says Louise, the head of center. “When I ask the students, I need some of you helping clean up the birds sections, all of them raise their hands happily and excited to help”, Louise continues.
In the classes in the center, students are obliged to prepare chickens for birds of prey by cutting them with scissors. Yellow frozen chickens are a necessary part of falconry in Denmark. Students are practicing close to the center. They practice to fly the birds and make them come back again.