Falconry is the sport of hunting with a trained bird of prey. The sport originated in Asia, more than 4,000 years ago, making falconry the oldest sport in the world. The art of falconry is still practiced all over the world, including the United States. Falconry is the most heavily regulated field sport in the country, with state and federal regulations to protect the birds and the integrity of the sport. There are 4,000 licensed falconers in the United States, with 70 licensed in Ohio. Joe Dorrian has taken his lifelong passion for birds of prey to form the Ohio School of Falconry.
The Ohio School of Falconry, founded in 2014, has the goal to make the experience of falconry accessible to people from all walks of life. The Ohio School of Falconry offers a variety of individual and corporate team-building programs that get you up close and personal with their trained birds of prey! Joe, a Master Class Falconer and the director of the Ohio School of Falconry, facilitates his programs at the Summit Vision Challenge Center in Westerville. This is the perfect place, with open fields, high grasses, and a wooded area that provides a wonderful background to your falconry experience.
It starts with a lesson of falconry history and raptor ecology. A brief bird anatomy lesson, and an overview of the sport helps you learn how to properly handle the birds. Then the fun part begins – flying the birds! In an open prairie field, we learned how to call the bird (a Red-Tail Hawk) to our leather gloves. With proper reinforcement (meat snacks) the Red-Tail Hawk flew gracefully across the field to land on my gloved arm! After a few bird calling lessons, I was able to walk around with this magnificent creature on my arm! It was an amazing feeling having this bird of prey using my arm as a perch!
The next falconry lesson was with Harris’ Hawks. After a few bird calling lessons, we walked to the forested area and were able to freely fly the Harris’ Hawks through the trees! We spent time calling and luring (with meat snacks) to our gloves. Gaining the trust of these birds while they flew high in the trees and calling them to the glove was an amazing experience! Learning first-hand about falconry and handling the birds of prey was one of the highlights of my life! Joe makes his students feel so comfortable with the birds, and I gained a new respect for these magnificent creatures!
Whether you are interested in falconry or an overall bird lover, I would highly recommend spending a day with Joe and the birds of Ohio School of Falconry!