By Ross Williams, Marietta Daily Journal, March 10, 2018
Falconers from Georgia Mountain Falconry came to the Smyrna Public Library on Saturday with a menagerie of birds of prey, and a crowd of about 100 packed into the library’s event room to ooh and aah at the raptors.
Owls at both end of the size spectrum were represented. On the tiny and cute side was Huckleberry, an eastern screech owl. Huckleberry was about small enough to fit in a pocket. With big, wide eyes, he craned his head around to take in the crowd from atop the gloved hand of handler Jill Lusky.
On the huge and terrifying side of the spectrum was Yona, the Eurasian eagle owl. This bird can have a wingspan of over six feet, and when it flapped its wings, you could feel the wind across the room. In Europe, they are used to hunt animals as big as deer, according to Georgia Mountain Falconry founder Buster Brown.
“You notice the size of her feet, they’re as big as my hand, and there’s 1,200 pounds of pressure in each foot,” Brown said.
Also on the stage were red-tailed falcons and Cooper’s hawks, who looked around the room and flapped their wings as the kids in the crowd lost their minds.
“People come up to us all the time and say ‘Man, you’ve got the neatest hobby in the world,’” Brown said. “We always tell them, ‘It’s way beyond that.’”
Brown said falconry is like an obsession for true aficionados, a true flame for the passions.
But these birds are for more than just looking at, he said. They are work animals, designed to be swift and efficient hunters.
“Falconry is hunting,” Brown said. “Instead of using a gun or a bow, we use a bird, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not for everybody because of that.”
Unlike shooting or bow hunting, Brown said falconry is about partnering with a part of nature.
“If you can imagine, you’re out there, your partner in falconry is a wild animal,” he said. “That’s pretty cool. Even if you don’t catch anything, to have that wild animal come back to you at the end of the day, that’s pretty cool.”
Georgia Mountain Falconry sells hawks and falcons to licensed falconers and also hosts hawking hunts in Cleveland, Dahlonega or Dawsonville. They also offer pest control services to home, business or farm owners who are plagued by feathered pests.
For more information, visit www.georgiamountainfalconry.com
Original Article: http://www.mdjonline.com/news/birds-of-prey-invade-smyrna-library/article_5d1cb810-24c8-11e8-969e-5b3e5d2a004d.html