Seeing birds of prey in flight is a spectacular experience and falconry is a great way to get up close and personal. Having done falconry a couple of times, I can say it’s exciting to be around different kinds of birds. My favourite session had to be the time I had a golden eagle on my arm. The golden eagle is my favourite kind of bird because it’s the total package: power, beauty and speed all rolled into one. Being close to a golden eagle brought on a mixture of emotions and this is what it felt like.
I’ve taken part in falconry days at Cheshire Falconry in the UK. Having started off with handling owls, I wanted to push myself further and find out what it was like to handle an eagle. Eagles are the apex predators of the avian world, so I figured I had a pretty good image in my head of how big they could get. How wrong I was.
The trainer brought out a juvenile golden eagle called Razor (an appropriate name), and his size was incredible. Razor had a proud, majestic stance, eyes always probing his surroundings. His brown and gold plumage shimmered in the sun. He really was a sight to behold.
The trainer explained the group would be feeding Razor with chicken. The golden eagle was placed on a stump and we’d hold the food out on our glove to get his attention. I realised how important body position was, as I needed to keep my back and arm straight.
When Razor flew at me, a spike of fear raced through my chest. He landed quickly and snapped up the chicken, talons digging into the glove. I felt the wind currents shoot past my face as the golden eagle flapped his huge wings. I can admit I wasn’t prepared for the size of Razor’s wingspan or how heavy he was.
My arm wobbled for a moment, but I managed to keep him steady. Having a golden eagle so close filled me with awe and admiration. I couldn’t help being excited and intimidated all at once. Razor was a majestic animal, but he was also one of the world’s most efficient hunters. The precision at which he grabbed the food was remarkable.
Handling a golden eagle taught me just how powerful they are. Whatever expectations you have fly out of the window. It was an incredible sensation, which is why I’d recommend trying falconry at least once.