This year (thanks to the girlfriend's brilliant foresight) I got to spend Valentine's day hanging out with this dude. Sup.
A short drive from San Diego proper is an awesome mountain town called Alpine. Here you'll find Sky Falconry, an awesome company run by legit rangers... Ok so they don't call themselves that, but I don't know a better way to describe someone that communicate with raptors. The instructors we had were Kirk and Denise, and their knowledge of the birds was eclipsed only by their sheer enthusiasm to share their experience with the class.
After a fairly brief but thorough introduction to what we were about to do, our instructors handed out the super cool falconer gloves you always see associated with this sort of thing. I don't have photos of the next part, because I was to busy flying a freaking falcon around... but the long and short of it is that the class stood in a big circle and we literally flew the hawk back and forth. Hayduke (ugh, i'm probably butchering the spelling. Whatever) was a super cool bird that responded perfectly to the "commands" the instructors gave us. I say it like that because they made it pretty clear that Hayduke does this because he wants to, and is perfectly capable of peacing out any time to go hunt for his own food.
Once we had flown him around the circle twice, we all stood in a straight line and watched Hayduke do some cool aerial moves. This was prompted by getting volunteers to step forward and toss animal innards into the air for him to catch. It was awesome. Kirk and Denise took a lot of time to make sure that everyone was involved in the experience an even amount. The best thing though is that they give each person a chance to take an awesome photo with Hayduke.
I'll shut up now, because nobody looks at this blog for words. Here are a good chunk of photos from the experience.
Kirk. Super cool dude.
Denise with a smaller Falcon...whose name I sadly forget :\
Hayduke can pose.
Quite the character
Ready for bird!
Eye on the prize
He was all about the flips and dives.
Happiest girlfriend ever.
No wait...this is the happiest ever.
I don't look it...but I'll admit he's intimidating.