Saturday, June 18, 2011
It Takes More Than Money to Get a Falcon
This amusing ad is now on local TV, but I am going to use it as an instruction piece too.
You see, you can't actually own a falcon just because you have a little cash in hand. That's how falcons, hawks and eagles are different from parrots or dogs.
Owning a falcon requires a person to first pass a Federal Falconry exam, and then take at least two years of apprenticeship with a master falconer or general class falconer in order to get a state and federal license to own a bird.
Before a bird is in hand, there must be at least two mew inspections (one by the master or general class falconer, and another by state or federal officials), and enough paperwork must be filled out to make a college student wilt.
The result: falconers tend to be dedicated fanatics who put their birds first and who go to incredible lengths to keep their charges healthy, both physically and mentally.
A falconry license is dependent upon the routine free flight of the bird, which means the owner and the bird not only have to train, they have to be in such tight sync that during hunting season the owner can tell you what his bird weighs within the weight of a penny.
What about Parrots and Pit Bulls? A very different story. Anyone with cash can buy these animals, and the results show.
In the world of large parrots we find a lot of birds as vicious as Harpy Eagles, feather-plucking themselves bald, and generally driven mad with boredom. Too many (perhaps most) are dead within a year or two of purchase, despite the fact that these birds should live to 30 years or more.
As for Pit Bulls, about half are given up to "shelters" within their first year or two of life. Once in the shelter system, Pit Bulls have little chance of being adopted out, and a 90 percent chance of being killed for no other reason than young fools are led to believe that a Pit Bull is "just like any other dog," and that if they are "good people" they will be sure to raise a dog that will be no more trouble than a hamster or a Labrador Retriever.
And the result: almost a million Pit Bulls are killed in this country every year -- more dead Pit Bulls than the total number of dogs registered by the AKC and the UKC... over 40 million pounds of dead Pit Bulls being tossed in land fills and incinerators every year.
And why? Because idiots keep breeding these dogs, and ignorants keep adopting these dogs based on a theory that all dogs are the same, that all dogs are blank slates, and that a young dilettante's love can cure all and make everything right.
Falconers and hawkers know better. They know a bird of prey is not a Zebra Finch, and that a Red-tail Hawk is not a Budgie or a Cockatiel.
Yes, a falconer may grumble at the expense, paperwork, and length of apprenticeship required to own and fly a raptor, but in the end they wear the right as a badge of honor, status and commitment.
The right to fly a falcon or hawk does not come with cash. It comes with a demonstration, over time, that the person manning the bird has the discipline and knowledge to fly a happy and healthy bird. Is there anything more beautiful than that? Is there anything better than the fact that this is NOT a "cash and carry" bird?