Falconry Comes to the Southworth Homestead on Dryden Homestead Heritage Fair Day

 Claire Kuiken’s red-tailed hawk Ajax

Claire Kuiken’s red-tailed hawk Ajax

By Mary Hornbuckle

Falconry, also known as hawking, is the sport of hunting with a trained bird of prey, usually a hawk or falcon. Falconry is also an art. It requires long hours, constant devotion, finesse, subtlety, and skill. The falconer must train a bird to fly free, hunt, and then accept a return to captivity.

The sport has long been practiced in rural areas of New York State, which requires falconers to have a special hunting license. The New York State Falconry Association, a fraternal organization, promotes falconry and raptor conservation programs. In Tompkins County, the Cornell Raptor Program offers public education programs on the biology and conservation of birds of prey. Local author Rachel Dickinson, a Freeville native, has written Falconer on the Edge: A Man, His Birds, and the Vanishing American West, on a prominent falconer.

The Dryden Town Historical Society is pleased to have Claire Kuiken, with her red-tailed hawk Ajax, give a presentation and a demonstration of the art and history of falconry at the Dryden Homestead Heritage Fair Day at the Southworth Homestead in Dryden, on Saturday, October 6th, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

Claire, a senior at Homer High School, began training in falconry as a young teen under the tutelage of her mentor, Peter Harrity. She will discuss aspects of anatomy, evolution, and conservation, as well as the steps necessary to become a falconer. Her presentation will also include the origins of falconry, traditional vocabulary, and the impact on other cultures. Claire will be joined by her father, John, in longer-range flying demonstrations at the end of her talk.

Depending on Ajax’s behavior and the crowd, Claire may allow others to hold him (with a glove on) and maybe even fly him!

The Cornell Raptor Program will also be on hand at the fair.

The Dryden Homestead Heritage Fair Day coincides with Ithaca Heritage’s Authentically Rural Weekend, October 5-7, 2018, celebrating Tompkins County’s rural heritage. Join us for a wine and paired tastings reception, rural heritage tours around Dryden, a harvest dinner, and a homestead brunch. Craft your own rural adventure and purchase tickets to individual events or buy the entire weekend package. For tickets and more information, visit the Authentically Rural Weekend page.