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Falcon Business Flying High
Birds of prey are Karen "Kitty" Carroll's livelihood. She travels around the country demonstrating the art of falconry, and educating the public about the value and beauty of these unique creatures.
  "Falconry is the oldest hunting sport that uses a trained wild predator in a human/bird alliance," she says. "It was once the sport of royalty and nobles. Although it's extremely time consuming, there are those of us who continue to take up the sport because we love the birds."
  Carroll lives at Live Oak, Fla., and has been a "licensed master and eagle class falconer" since 1974. She and her husband, Pete, established their full-time business, Acciptiter Enterprises in 1989. Now retired, Pete still does consulting.
  The couple currently has 12 birds which include the Cooper's hawk, Harris' hawk, peregrine falcon, kestrel falcon, Barbary falcon, barn owl, barred owl and eagle owl. Most were obtained from private breeders around the country, she says.
  The pair travels about 30,000 miles per year with their trained birds - mainly throughout the northeast and Midwest - but they've been hired to perform as far west as Las Vegas and Louisiana.
  Carroll offers a wide range of programs, and is often employed at agricultural fairs, sportsmen's shows, Scottish and Renaissance festivals, corporate gatherings, theme parks, schools, day care centers, and seniors' groups.
  She comes with her own sound system and tent, but also demonstrates the birds outdoors when space permits.
  In her show, "Birds of the Gauntlet," she shows the birds' speed and skill by allowing them to fly freely in a "simulated hunt." At the same time, Carroll presents a brief history of falconry and background information on each species.
  The falcons are enticed to fly when she swings a rubber lure on a string. By chasing it in the air, the birds stay in good condition, and Carroll says it's a lot of fun for her, the birds, and the audience.
  The flying style and slower speed of the hawks and owls make them more suitable to demonstrate "perch to perch" or "perch to fist" flying.
  When her lectures are in a historical context, Carroll dresses in period clothing, ranging from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to Colonial. She discusses the importance of falconry, as well as the part these birds have played in our history and language.
  Carroll's modern day context lectures focus on conservation efforts and bird facts.
  She lets people get close to the birds while casually intermingling with the patrons of the fair or event. Carroll also provides a stationery, live "aviary display" where the birds of prey can be viewed. Carroll also answers questions from the audience during all of her presentation formats.
  "My goal is to teach the general public about hunting and predation in nature, to help them appreciate the role predators play in our environment, and understand their natural habits, which may be perceived by some as offensive or evil," she says.
  Carroll also offers private "Hawk Walks," where registrants can spend one to two hours with her, flying hawks on nature trails. "A Day of Falconry," is a 1 1/2 day field excursion where people can spend time with her and the trained hawks, in the pursuit of game. Her "Falconry Apprentice Workshop" lasts a day and a half and guides participants on how to get started in falconry themselves. A more intensive 3-day course is also available.
  Carroll also points people in the direction of national and state clubs, vendors, recommended reading lists, costs and equipment required for the sport.
   Besides her falconry schools and educational shows/lectures, Carroll consults on bird husbandry, behavior and raptor housing.
  Rates for Acciptiter Enterprises' programs vary, based on state permit fees, so you'd need to call or write for prices.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Accipiter Enterprises, Box 1300, Live Oak, Fla. 32064 (ph 386 776-1960; hawkmom74@birdsofprey.net; www. birdsofprey.net).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #4