Birds Of Prey

   You are invited to visit the Birds of Prey exhibition to photograph the birds, and get close to a live Eagle, Falcon, Owl, or Hawk. We welcome your interest and will be happy to answer your questions.
Falconry (the use of birds of prey to capture wild game for the table) dates back to at least 2000 years before Christ. The Chinese were first to use falcons and hawks to catch pheasant and rabbit for the emperor�s table. Falconry evolved over the "Silk Road", into the Middle East via the trade routes, to become an Arabic tradition by about 1700 BC. Many of history�s conquering armies, Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BC) and most of the Roman Emperors (from Augustus (31 BC-14AD) to Basil II (976-1025AD), Genghis Khan (1162-1227 AD), and his grandson, Kublai Khan (1215-1294 AD), used falconry to supplement their food supplies. The Egyptians worshiped both falcons and Eagles as gods and Queen Cleopatra (69-30 BC) was depicted in hieroglyphics as a falconer.
   Falconry was introduced into Europe, Great Britain, and Scotland, about 524 AD with the Roman conquest of Europe. This was during the period when Roman legions were invading the main continent of Europe - and having acquired falconry skills from their conquests in Egypt, the practice easily caught favor. The Romans also brought the Bagpipe to Scotland during this same period.
   Marco Polo (1254-1324 AD) returned from China with gunpowder. So through the development of guns and gunpowder, it became far easier to provide for the table with a "Fowling Piece" than wait for one bird to catch another. Falconry evolved from a means of obtaining food into Sport. Kings, Queens, and the aristocracy practiced it exclusively. It was they who owned the land (and the game upon it). If you were Emperor, Czar, or King, you would fly an Eagle or Gyr-Falcon (pronounced "JUR" as in jury - without the Y; or like the word "EAR" with a "G" in front). A Queen or Baron would hunt using a Peregrine, an Earl a lesser bird, until you reached the lowly Sparrow Hawk or �Spar� (smallest of the falconry hunting birds). In Europe, the Sparrow Hawk is an Accipiter (very long tail and a true HAWK), while in this country, what is incorrectly called �Sparrow Hawk� (because Pilgrims didn�t have binoculars) is our smallest Falcon - the �American Kestrel�. Falconers were those in the employ of the royalty. They cared for, and carried the birds to the hunt.
   Kingdoms were wagered, affairs of State ignored, just to participate in this great new game. From about 800 AD to the middle 1600's falconry proved to be the true "Sport of Kings" (not horse racing).    When our forefathers came to this country (early 1600's), they were trying to escape the nobility and the oppression of the aristocracy. They were more concerned about feeding their families, so the firearm became the tool of the land. Falconry was left behind in Europe.
   Today, in the USA, Falconry is practiced by a small and very dedicated few (about 4000 nation wide - 640 in California) who are both conservationists and experts in the field of raptors (Birds of Prey). Because the birds are Federally protected, they cannot legally be held (or possessed) by non-licensed persons. It is against the law for any non-licensed person to have in their possession even as much as a feather from a bird of prey. Any person wishing to become a Falconer must first pass a strict test, obtain a Sponsor, and spend a minimum of two full years as an "Apprentice Falconer" before gaining "General Falconer" status. Five years must be spent as a General to obtain "Master Falconer" status. The different levels allow different privileges and increasing numbers/types of birds to be possessed.
   For further information about birds of prey and/or Falconry please visit the website of California Foundation for Birds of Prey at the Games this year

   The California Foundation for Birds of Prey is a nonprofit organization involved in a broad spectrum of activities including avian medicine, public education, and raptor rehabilitation.
   CFBP is committed to the needs of raptors - hawks, owls, falcons, vultures, and especially eagles. The California Foundation for Birds of Prey was started in the early nineties. Originally a very small operation, this organization was dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured birds of prey (otherwise known as raptors). Over the last thirteen years, CFBP has grown with the number of fabulous individuals involved, obtainable ideals and goals, and the demands of raptor rehabilitation.