The Dawson County Public Library hosted a children's educational program presented by Georgia Mountain Falconry on Wednesday, June 16.
GMF brought with them a variety of birds and owls for children to witness and learn about, with group founder Buster Brown talking through the unique features of each bird.
Brown, who has over 20 years of experience, was accompanied by seasoned falconer Greg Ames and fellow raptor enthusiast Lisa Fannon, who recently finished her first year of falconry.
“As a retired teacher and coach I've always enjoyed teaching kids,” Brown said. “I enjoy sharing the joy of the only sport in the world where you partner with a wild animal for hunting…and trying to encourage kids to get outside.”
With the room filled to the brim with excited kids, Brown carefully brought out each bird and would describe its particular behavior, diet and training process.
The birds themselves varied in size, with the small American Kestrel and Eastern Screech Owl contrasting with the large Eurasian Eagle Owl and the red-tailed hawk.
Brown explained to the audience that the birds were hunters and had needed to be respected as such. As non-domesticated animals, the birds had to be as active as possible and fed as if they were still in the wild.
“Caring for a falconry bird has its challenges. The first time you think you have a pet is when you get hurt,” Brown said. “They are never domesticated, but always wild. The key is remembering that fact [and] the result is a loyal hunting partner that will give you many seasons of great memories.”
Each bird had its chance to show off its feathers and features, with a couple of them showing their full wingspan.
After the main presentation, Brown put on a video that showed the hunting process for some of the birds present.
The video showed how each bird was able to precisely calculate the location of its prey and swoop in.
GMF is based in Dahlonega and provides a number of experiences for children and adults alike. These include events where people can learn how to handle raptors, multimedia events for groups and an apprentice academy.
The apprentice academy is a weekend workshop held twice a year that teaches in-depth falconry. GMF will host the next of those events from Friday, August 26 to Sunday, August 28 at the Holiday Inn Express in Helen.