Tom's Articles

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Below are some of my adventures, mistakes and rambling thoughts on falconry, Birds of Prey and related subjects.

"Vultures and vampires ...." is how not to purchase a Valentines Day present, while "Alice" and "Only A Bird" are stories about a female Sparrowhawk I flew for ten years and probably the best hunting partner I will ever spend time with.

I have kept Birds of Prey for decades, since I was in my early teens. Please feel free to click on one or two and hopefully enjoy....

- Tom Byrne

Alice : A female sparrowhawk.

As I am writing this I am also looking out the window at Alice in her aviary, sitting as usual next to her mate in an open fronted pen, surveying as only a queen can, over what she knows to be her territory. She is nine years old this year, and looks out over the […]

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Only a bird.

The black cloud is darker today. It’s August and the sun is shining but I can feel the weight of a cloud hanging over me as I take her up in my hands. I know she is gone as I hold her weakened body, her feathers perfect and her eyes once so bright and menacing […]

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“You don’t do that, do you?’’ I Once sat at a table with some well known British falconers, purists from ‘Ye Olde Skool of Fauconrie’- you know the type, and when I happened to mention that my female redtail was catching rabbits both day and night. I couldn’t believe the reaction it got, ‘It’s unnatural’, […]

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The best and the worst of hawks.

There are two types of falconers in this world; those that love Harris Hawks, and those that don’t. If everyone loved the same things, if everyone agreed on everything and thought the same the world would be a less colourful and interesting place, so this surely can only be a good thing. Since the first Harris […]

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A good beginners bird?

Hello, my name is  …………, I want to get into falconry and I was half thinking of getting a  ……. (in this space put anything from a bat falcon to a lammergeyer), but, the only birds available seem to be redtails and harris’s. Are these good beginners birds?’ This type of phone call is getting […]

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The burden of weight.

When I was a beginner I knew everything. Now as I learn more about falconry I realise just how little I do know. Falconry, I read, hadn’t changed in thousands of years. I enjoyed reading about the different aspects of falconry such as rook hawking, game hawking, flying merlins and sparrowhawks and each one I mentally ticked off as […]

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What’s the little hat on the bird’s head for?” “Ah that’s just to protect his eyes so they don’t get damaged when he’ flying” Hoodwinked, another falconry word that found its way into everyday usage. I looked it up in the dictionary: to dupe or trick. I must not be very bright because every time […]

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When birds ate us.

Not so long ago, well a few millions years ago, there was a bird that was the absolute master of its world. Today we consider the eagle to be the ultimate predator and top of the food chain, and rightly so, as there is no other bird or beast that can master it or regularly […]

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The Brittany.

Different people have different ideas of what dog makes the perfect hunter’s companion. For some it’s the hyper-active Springer, a dog that just doesn’t let up and leaves no bush unturned. For others it’s the new world Labrador, a true gunner’s dog and a specialist retriever and if given a chance can be a good […]

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Vultures, vampires and a saint called Valentine!

Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin on this one. I suppose it started back in February with a guy who I did not even know, clicking the “enter” button after placing an advert on the web. But then again maybe it had started months before when I dropped food into my pair of […]

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A bad mistake.

I made an awful bad mistake the other day. I put the birds out on the lawn to weather, this means to get them out of their night quarters, let them get some sun, fresh air, and to take a bath or a drink if they need it. It was a beautiful sunny day and […]

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I lost my good female Harris Hawk “Martha” the other evening. It was five o’clock and the rabbits were just starting to pop their little heads out into the evening sunshine to feed. Just like I had done  hundred times before, I unloaded herself from the jeep, quietly closed over the door and snuck over […]

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Raptors and me.

When I was a kid I used to spend my time walking the hills with the dogs. I would walk for miles along the beaches in Winter-time when no one was about, or to distant fields or any piece of waste ground in the chance of spooking up a rabbit for the dogs to chase. […]

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It is days like today that makes living in Ireland tolerable. After the rain last night, today dawned a beautiful crisp clear morning and a more perfect day for flying falcons would not be possible. There was a good stiff breeze blowing as I gave my Saker falcon his daily exercise; stooping him at the […]

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The mighty Kestrel.

My first ever bird of prey was a kestrel. I was about fifteen years old and fascinated by hawks of all kinds, so when a young kestrel was handed to me after it had obviously fallen out of a nest I was more than ready for the challenge. I trapped mice and starlings to feed […]

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