Today, I took a little day-trip to Tucson to see a man about a falcon. Okay, not really, but it sounded cool. I did go to see a guy about falcons in general, though. Or more specifically, falconry, which really includes hawks, too.
Tim Riordan, president of the Arizona Falconers Association, agreed to meet with me to do an interview for a project for my English class. Whew! That sentence has way too many prepositional phrases.
We met at a little nature area on the north end of Tucson with a river where ducks like to land. Tim brought his two peregrine falcons, Mystique (F, 6 yrs.) and Little Johnny (M, 5 yrs.). Both were caught in the wild while they were young and trained as hunting falcons, which is legal. Has been since about 2003. Peregrines were taken off the endangered species list in 1999. Yeah, I found all that out today.
Mystique and Little Johnny have very different personalities. Tim says that Mystique is one of the easiest birds he's ever worked with and that she probably thinks she's human. On the other hand, Little Johnny would probably be wild again within three days if he were released.
Tim flew Mystique first. The ducks mysteriously vanished while he was getting her ready, so she just soared around until he called her back and gave her half a pigeon to eat. As luck would have it, right after he put her hood back on a bunch of ducks flew in. He tried flying her again, but she was done, so he brought out Johnny, who took considerably longer to get ready because he wouldn't sit still. With Sadie the golden retriever bounding along beside him, Tim was able to scare up some ducks for Johnny, so I got to see him swooping and diving. It. Was. Incredible. He didn't catch anything, but it was still awesome to see him.
Tim's been doing falconry for over forty years, and he was telling me that for novices, it's all about the kill, but for him it's become more about just getting to see the birds in action. If they had caught a duck, it would've been frozen and become part of their diet come next summer when it's too hot to fly. Tim was also telling me about how the falcons kill. He said they're some of the most "politically correct hunters" in the world. They always snap their prey's neck, killing it much quicker than say, a coyote, which just sort of eats the poor meal alive.
All in all, I think the only word to describe this experience is majestic.
Listening to: "You're the One that I Want"
Reading: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen