The falconer

We had a family outing to Medieval Times last night… Tons of fun. If you haven’t been, and you have a 10 and a 12 year old handy, definitely go. It’s knights and swordfighting and jousting and even a guy flying a falcon.

The falconer came out before the tournament got rolling. While the announcer talked about the importance and beauty of falconry, he walked quietly to the middle of the arena, launched his falcon and started spinning the lure.

The falcon swooped and dove around the arena, banking over the heads of the audience and zooming back to the lure. The spotlight didn’t follow it, so the bird passed in and out of shadow as it traveled.

Every head in the place was focused on the bird, tracking it as it zipped past, oohing and ahhing as it came close enough for us to see the details.

Everyone was focused on the bird, I should say, except my youngest son. He was staring at the falconer, his eyes narrow.

“Is that a stick?” he asked.

“It’s a lure,” I whispered back. “It’s basically a piece of meat on a rope. He whirls it around. The bird tries to catch it.”

He relaxed a bit, but not completely. “That’s got to be frustrating for the bird.”

“It’s good exercise, kind of like when we toss a frisbee to the dogs.”

He continued glaring at the falconer.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “The falcon will get some food. This is play-time for the bird. Look at how it’s flying.”

The falcon swooped down at the lure, then looped back and captured it. Sure enough, the man gave it some food. The audience applauded and the bird hopped onto the man’s fist in almost the exact same way that our parakeet hops onto my finger. My son relaxed.

I was happy to see where he stands on animal acts.

Pets playing with their humans? Okay. Animals forced to do tricks for money. . . not so much.

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