Visit to West Coast Falconry

I slept in until almost 9:00 this morning; that was nice.  When I got up I did my morning ablutions stuff and brewed a pot of coffee, and then went through email, photos and journaling stuff before heading out to Marysville around 11:30 for my Owl Encounter at West Coast Falconry.  The write up for the encounter read: “…The most primitive and perhaps fascinating of all raptors is the owl. Its large, round eyes made ancient man feel as if it could see into his soul, and the mythology surrounding this stealth hunter from the land of our dreams is replete with images of arcane wisdom, to the fearful expectation of death.  Learn the facts about the most primitive raptor on the planet, its role in nature, its habitat, and how falconers have related to this enigmatic bird in the past and now in the present. Our Eurasian Eagle Owl is representative of the largest species of owl on the planet. Attending the experience gets you up close to this giant, silent flier. You will witness her grace in flight as her trainers take her through her exercises…”

I had to stop first to put some gas in the car.  I’d never been to Marysville before and the place I was going to was actually a residence, so I had some trepidation about going there and getting there in time for the appointment.  On the way there I saw a lot of ponds and flooded fields with huge flocks of geese in them, and a couple of them had SWANS in them, too.  It was so hard not to pull off to the side of the road to get photos, but I didn’t want to be late for my owl encounter.  I made it there just fine, and in fact got there about 15 minutes early.

There were 7 other people who attended this encounter.  We were all expecting it to be just about the Eagle Owl, but they actually had three owls there to show us the difference in size, facial composition, and feather colors.  Along with the Eagle Owl (which was huge!), we also got to see their Barn Owl and the young Speckled Owl, “Owlsey”… and we all got to “glove up” and call Owlsey to us, having him land on and take off from our hand, while others took photos of us.  The whole thing was soooo interesting and the birds were so beautiful none of us wanted the session to end.  Hah!

The Eagle Owl’s name is “Cailleach” (Kay-leesh) and means “Old Wise Woman” or “Crone” in Gaelic.  And she was magnificent; her large orange eyes were just mesmerizing.  She was totally silent during the demonstration, so I don’t know if she hoot or screeches.  Owlsey had a couple of different calls including a “knocking” click he made deep in his throat when he wanted a treat.  (We were told that other owls make a similar noise right before they kill something.)  The Barn Owl was “Amadan Ban Bheag”, a female whose name means “Little White Fool” in Gaelic; she was screechy, not hooty.

I also saw a lot of their other raptors, including “Zopi” the Yellow Headed Vulture, “Enkidu” an Aplomado Falcon who (as he’s still a baby) was very noisy, and several Harris Hawks, a Swainson’s Hawk and a Finnish Goshawk, etc.  Just gorgeous birds.  The visit was both entertaining and very educational, and I really, really enjoyed it.  I’d love to go back there and try a falconing lesson or an owl walk in the future.  So much fun!

When the session was over, I hung around afterwards to thank all the ladies for the presentation – and also asked them if they’d be interested in doing a presentation/lecture for Tuleyome next year.  They said they’d be happy to, so now I have to send them our open dates and get them onto the calendar.  Yay!

I got back home a little before 4:00 pm so it was kind of a long day… and I was hungry when I got home (as I’d only had a piece of toast and an apple during the day).  So, I made myself some BLT’s and then crashed for the rest of the day…

Oh, and here are some short videos:

Amadan the Barn Owl:

Cailleech the Eagle Owl