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Bristol Area Lions Learn About Falconry 12/31/2009

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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On Dec.7 the Bristol Area Lions learned about the ancient hunting sport of falconry from Larry Barnes, Master Falconer and Wiscasset realtor. His female falcon dined on pheasant during his presentation.

Barnes explained that falconry predates the development of gun powder. In Maine, the season for hunting with falcons lasts 105 days vs. a 45-day season with guns. Maine peregrine falcons became extinct in 1962 due to DDT, and there were no wild peregrines for 25 years. After being bred in captivity, 153 were reintroduced into the wild. The first successful breeding pair of peregrine falcons in Maine was discovered in 1988. This year there are 25 known breeding pairs in the state.

In early stages of training, a falcon is conditioned to go after food that has been attached to a 3-1/2 foot helium balloon, reaching heights of up to 1,500 feet. A transmitter with a small receiver attached to the bird’s middle tail feather helps the trainer to control and keep track of the falcon. Its hunting style consists of swooping from above and knocking down prey, usually black ducks and other marsh birds. A falcon can attain speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and take down birds more than twice its weight. A mature female weighs in at approximately two pounds.

Seasonal training for his falcons begins in October using food and flight for conditioning. Most hunting with his falcons occurs between mid-November and February in the salt marshes of Georgetown and Phippsburg, which draw migrating black ducks. Barnes first checks the area for eagles then flushes out the ducks. A falcon’s lifespan tends to be very short since it is prey to eagles who are hunting the same black ducks. There are currently 500 nesting pairs of eagles in Maine. It takes 4 or 5 years for an eagle to reach that stage.

Barnes explained that he does not name his birds, as they are wild animals and respond only to positive reinforcement. It takes patience and a certain temperament to work with a falcon. The falcon in Barnes’ presentation comes from the Pacific Northwest and is acclimated to winter hunting.

At 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19 all Bristol Area Lions are requested to meet at the rear shipping dock of Reilly’s Market to pick up the annual Christmas baskets. These will be delivered that same morning to deserving area families whose names have been obtained from Bristol town hall and from the New Harbor Food Pantry.

The next regular meeting of the Bristol Area Lions will take place on Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Willing Workers Hall in New Harbor. The speaker will be Jay Pinkerton, Headmaster of Lincoln Academy and the meal will be catered by David Atwater.

To make dinner reservations to attend please call Herb Watson at 677-6191.


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