Have you met Steve or Porter – Red Tail Hawks living on Doty Island? Jason, Sarah, and Tyler are a recent additions to Doty Island and have a love of falconry. Jason is a permitted Falconer, a person who keeps, trains, and/or hunts with falcons, hawks, or other birds of prey.
What Inspired Falconry?
Jason has always been an animal lover. In 7th grade, Jason had to read My Side of the Mountain for school. The main character, Sam Gribley, is a falconer with a trained falcon named Frightful. Before Red Tail Haws, Jason owned venomous reptiles and snakes (under lock and key). After being bitten twice by his snakes – once landing in the hospital - he decided to switch to falconry. Jason now has 14 years of experience in falconry!
About Steve and Porter
While male and female birds often are totally different in color, that doesn't apply to red-tailed hawks. Steve and Porter look very much alike. Red-tailed hawks typically reach lengths of between approximately 18 and 26 inches and weigh between 28 and 43 ounces. Females are typically 1/3 larger than the males, which is typical among birds of prey which can be easily seen with Jason’s birds: Steve is a 36 ounce male and Porter is a 43 ounce female. They may only be between 2-3 pounds but they are easy to spot from the ground.
Dangers to the Steve and Porter
Steve and Porter hunt rabbits and squirrels. Jason doesn’t typically have them hunt squirrels since squirrels can be dangerous to the birds. Squirrels bite and can cripple hawks legs/feet. There are other dangers to the birds as well including electrocution, cyclone fences, collisions with cars and other objects.
If You See Jason
Jason does not mind if you approach him while he is working with his birds. He is very active with Steve and Porter on Doty Island – they are flown and hunted almost daily! If you, or your organization, are interested in seeing the birds, please contact DIDC for Jason’s email. Serious inquiries will be considered. DIDC’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Training and Permitting
In the United States, falconry is legal in all states except Hawaii. It is also illegal in the District of Columbia.
It’s not easy to become a falconer. Jason has a state permit to practice the sport. In order to acquiring a falconry license Jason had to pass a (difficult!) written test, have equipment and facilities inspected by the Department of Natural Resources, and serve a minimum of two years as an apprentice under a licensed falconer. It’s expensive sport – especially to get started! Jason states he would be very hesitant about taking on an apprentice without understanding their intentions and resources. A falconer’s birds are their pride and joy – not just a “neat” pet to show your friends.
If you decide falconry is not just a “passing fancy”, think about the following points:
You should have a serious, dedicated interest in the sport and a love for, and interest in, all wildlife and the outdoors.
Read everything you can get your hands on about falconry. You should talk to practicing falconers, if possible, and ask to go on a hunt with them.
Attend the various seminars held during the year.
Be aware that caring for, training and hunting a bird requires a substantial amount of time and patience.
Be financially able to obtain the basic housing and equipment
Have access to suitable land where you can fly your bird.
Photos taken by Quest Photography. Please visit her website at: