The world in their hands

In the news this week is our launch of a new Young Falconers Course - something that has been created due to popular demand, and as far as we know, it will be only one of the very few courses of its kind held in the UK.

Under the auspices of of the East Anglian Academy of Falconry, who are based here at Stonham Barns, the course is designed to provide an insightful look into the raptor world, coupled with much of the conservation work that is done here at SOS. The aim is to provide youngsters aged 12 - 16 years with the opportunity to experience the best of falconry at first hand.

Like many keen on this fascinating hobby, along with my colleagues my first introduction to the world of falconry was Ken Loach's beautiful film,
"Kes" - the emotional story of a young boy who had very little in life except the love of the kestrel he had trained from a youngster. The film really kick-started a love of all birds and raptors in particular, and at a very young age but I remember being frustrated that I couldn't find a way to pursue my awakening interest any further. 

In those days there were only a handful of falconry establishments in the UK and none close to where I lived: even then it was hard to find any one of them willing to teach a youngster, and no one locally could teach me very much. I also soon found that with a very practical sport like falconry, books can only offer a limited amount of knowledge, especially as these specialised books were - before the age of the internet - not only hard to find, but also very costly!

Many years later, when after several changes of career I finally found my way into the falconry world, I still found that it is still very difficult for young people to learn about the sport first-hand. Which is strange... falconry has been in existence for many thousand of years and as today the focus is very much on conservation (rather than putting food on the table as in days gone by), there is still a big void out there when it comes to practical tuition for young people.

From this rationale, the new Young Falconers Course has been born. It will provide a unique and valuable learning experience for the young raptor enthusiast, with plenty of "hands-on" time with the birds.

Divided into 6 separate practical and classroom sessions, the course will brief young enthusiasts on all the basics of what is entailed when owning a bird of prey. The participants will be introduced to the correct way of handling birds and the differences between the various types, and enable them to discover why each is more suited to varying environments and situations. They will also take an inp-depth look at raptor husbandry, focussing general health care, weight management, feeding, & the day-to-day care and maintenance of a healthy bird of prey.

There will be the opportunity to learn about the many different techniques to train young birds and participate in the training programme, including a chance to try lure winging and radio telemetry tracking equipment.

If you'd like to participate, please
click here for booking details. We look forward to seeing you!