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falconry.jpgFalconry is the ancient art of hunting with Birds of Prey and it is practised throughout the Scottish Highlands. Falconry was at its most popular throughout the Middle Ages in the Scottish Highlands and the rest of the UK.

The majestic Scottish Highlands are the ideal locale for practicing the art of falconry.  The sport of kings, knights, and nomads, falconry is still widely enjoyed by all ages in the Highlands.  Imagine raising your leather gauntlet and signaling a fierce bird of prey to land upon your arm.  A hawk’s or falcon’s talons can exert a pressure of 100 to 200 pounds per square inch.  Nevertheless, your hawk descends upon your gauntlet with barely a squeeze.  The romance of this sport, which probably originated in central Asia at least 3000 years ago, still inspires people today to learn about the magnificent birds which will work in tandem with humans to hunt for game. 

Falconry, also called hawking, is a sport which utilizes the prowess and strength of a raptor (bird of prey) to hunt game for humans.  For many centuries, falconry was considered a status symbol and was extremely popular amongst nobility.  There are several categories of birds that can be used for falconry—broadwings:  Golden Eagles and Harris Hawks; longwings:  Peregrine Falcons, Gyrfalcons, and Lanner Falcons; and shortwings:  goshawks.  Today, most falconers use goshawks and peregrine falcons.  In Britain now, most practical falconry, that is falconry done to control pests, is done with Harris Hawks.  However, falconry centres often have a wide variety of birds for you to see and fly.

The art of falconry is very demanding and time-consuming.  Becoming a master falconer can take years, and time requirements spent with your bird are 365 days a year.  As well, a competent falconer must follow sound conservation principles and the ethics of practicing falconry should be taken into consideration before taking this sport on as part of your life. 

Fortunately, there are wonderful falconry centres all throughout the Scottish Highlands, and you can have the opportunity to learn about and experience falconry firsthand without having to go to all the expense and commitment that a lifelong falconer undertakes.  Many centres will offer informative sessions with their birds, demonstrating types of birds and specific techniques.  They will give you a chance to see the birds in action while explaining the characteristics of each bird, what it does, and how it does it.  You can learn about the history of falconry from these centres, as well.  Falconry centres provide you with the chance to see what it’s like to be a falconer, giving you the opportunity to handle a bird and experience the hunt.  Choose from a full day’s experience or perhaps just an afternoon.  Explore the different falconry centres throughout the Highlands and choose the one that is right for you. 

Half day experiences might include lessons on the birds’ ecology, biology, and psychology as well as let you handle and fly up to 12 different types of birds.  A half day hunt could take you walking through the wilderness to see the birds act in their natural habitat.  A full day experience will prove to be a spectacular day out in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.  You will probably spend the morning learning about the art of falconry and about the birds themselves.  Chances are you will get to handle and fly a variety of these raptors.  The afternoon will bring actual hunting in the wilderness of the Highlands. 

Truly a memorable experience, a full day of falconry can take you back in time and let you experience the sport of nobility for yourself.  Families welcome at falconry centres and there will be many interactive activities for children; however, for safety reasons it is unlikely that young children will be able to handle and fly the birds.  Nevertheless, the centre will do its utmost to provide your family with an excellent and fun experience.  For those who are truly interested in learning more about the art and sport of falconry, many centres offer ongoing lessons to help you develop your skills.

Whatever your level of interest, falconry centres across the Scottish Highlands seek to educate the public about this amazing sport and to explain the ecological balance involved in falconry.  Even if hunting is not your interest or forte, you can enjoy the spectacle of falconry at a Highlands falconry centre and learn about its place in history.  The magnificent birds are sure to inspire and attract every visitor, and you will come away with an experience unlike any other.  Visit a falconry centre today and book an experience—for an hour, a half-day, a full day, or a longer course.  Falconry, that most noble of sports, is popular part of Highland culture.

Many Falconry centres in the Scottish Highlands offer admission to see their birds and present an informative Falconry Display flying Hawks, Falcons, Owls and Eagles free. Some other Falconry Businesses in the Scottish Highlands offer Experiences or Adventures flying Birds of Prey such as a Hawk Walk (flying Harris Hawks) or a half of full days experience or adventure flying a variety of Birds of Prey.

This activity is a memorable experience that connects you to nature "red in tooth and claw" in all it's glory. Falconers form a connection with their birds that simply must be experienced first hand.

The Scottish Highlands offer a magnificent backdrop to try your hand at this most ancient of arts.