I have wanted to do falconry for quite some time, so when I saw it advertised at the Dromoland Castle Hotel in Ireland where we recently traveled, Diane and I signed immediately. We were not disappointed.
It was an educational experience filled with joy, wonder, spirituality and education. And… oh yes…the birds.
We met Michael, our falconer who, though a young man, was already quite at home in his field. He introduced us to our bird, a Harris Hawk named Brian. Both falcons and hawks are used in falconry.
He also introduced us to many phrases associated with falconry now in general use, such as:
Fed-up…when a hawk has eaten its fill (in falconry speak, when it’s “crop is full”), it won’t want to hunt. The phrase has moved from a bird who doesn’t want to hunt to a person who is disgusted.
Hoodwinked…the obvious… hood on the bird for protection
Under his thumb or wrapped around his little finger… a falcon has a leash (jess) to stop it from flying away. When the bird is on the falconer’s arm, he’ll put part of the jess “under his thumb” or “wrap it around his little finger” to keep control of the bird.
The Dromoland Hotel was a fitting place for falconry. Off we went… down a beautiful path lined with cypress, oaks, and elms to an open field.
Michael let Brian go, placed some meat on his glove and the hawk returned from his perch in a nearby tree.
He had us do the same. The looks of amazement on all our faces was worth the effort. “I can’t believe this,” was a common refrain.