Finding a Falconry Mentor
One of the most important parts of starting out in falconry is for you to find a suitable mentor, who can guide you before and once you aquire a bird of your own.
"Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen,
and a push in the right direction..."
Many people try to "go it alone" which often disastrous consequences for both the bird and the falconer. A good mentor should be able to advise you, support you and bring out the best in you. You should feel comfortable to ask them questions freely.
As a beginner it is easy to make mistakes and miss critical warning signs of larger problems. A good mentor should be able to quickly rectify or advise on this issues before they develop into something worse.
WHEN LOOKING FOR A QUALITY MENTOR
Consider the following pointers:
- They should have many years of quality experience in falconry, ideally with a range of birds so they can offer up comparisons in bird choices and training techniques.
- They should have plenty of experience with the specific species you want to fly, (and preferably also the quarry you wish to hunt).
- It is also important that they have experience with imprinting birds if that is a route you are going down as mal-imprinted birds can be very problematic.
- Ideally they will be currently active within the falconry community and in touch with the latest laws, legislation and technology relevant to falconry.
- They should be geographically close to you, so that they can see your bird (once you acquire
one) and be able to have regular contact with you. Phone mentors are okay but remember
that without seeing your bird in person they will not be able to give a full and measured
For example a bird which is underweight displays very similar behaviours to one that is overweight - so without being able to physically handle your bird a decent mentor is unlikely to want to give advice on weight management in case they do not have a full picture of what is going on and advise you incorrectly which could be detrimental to your bird.
- What works for one falconer or bird may not work for another, so you need to find a way that works best for both you and your bird.
- The safety and welfare of your bird should remain your top priority.
- No one owes you anything, but there are some amazingly kind and knowledgeable people out there who are more than willing to share information and advice.
- Do not throw away support and advice when you make mistakes. We all make mistakes with our birds and it can be embarrassing - but the most important thing is to learn from those moments. Falconers can be very passionate about birds' welfare so try not to take blunt advice too personally. Remember they have your bird's best interests at heart.
- If you think you know it all - you may as well give up now. No matter how many years falconers have been flying birds we never stop learning or developing ideas.
- You will only get out as much as you put in to falconry. It is not a weekend hobby but a committed lifestyle choice. If you spend time researching, learning and gaining as much practical experience as you can you will reap the benefits when you train your first bird by being prepared as possible.
- Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows!
ONCE YOU FIND SOMEONE WILLING TO MENTOR YOU
Try to stick to one mentor as everyone has their own way of doing things. It is fine to pick other falconers brains, and read discussions online but remember to discuss the advice/answers from others with your mentor. There is no such thing as a stupid question - always ask if you are not sure about something, and it's okay to discuss things repeatedly!
Be aware that your mentor will likely be busy with their own birds/work/life as well - so find out what schedule will work best for them. Remember that they are giving their time freely to support you. Help them to help you by reading relevant books they suggest.
Practice your falconers knot and other key skills they have taught you, so that each time you meet they will be able to further your tuition. Write down any questions you have. Once your mentor explain your questions, write down your answers in a notebook to remind yourself later.