A fal­con on the hand

School field trip gets up close and per­sonal with wildlife

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - GREEN LIVING - BY ERIC MCCARTHY eric.mccarthy@jour­nalpioneer.com

Mem­bers of a Grade 2 and 3 class from O’Leary El­e­men­tary School were af­forded the op­por­tu­nity re­cently to hold a fal­con, and some even held a brook trout dur­ing a re­cent field­trip to the Glen­wood pond and dam.

The stu­dents ob­served Fish and Wildlife work­ers Rosie Mac­Far­lane and Ja­son MacEachern use elec­trofish­ing to mon­i­tor fish pop­u­la­tion in the stream and they watched wide-eyed as Jamie Strike with Is­land Fal­conry Ser­vices dis­played a male saker fal­con.

No one in the class passed up on the op­por­tu­nity to hold the majestic bird of prey when Stride pre­sented them the of­fer.

The saker fal­con, Stride in­formed the stu­dents, is the world’s fastest an­i­mal hav­ing reached a recorded speed of 273 miles per hour (442 kilo­me­tres per hour) dur­ing a dive.

Stride also dis­played a young hawk but, be­cause it is still in the early stages of train­ing, he could not let the stu­dents hold the hawk.

While pest bird con­trol com­prises much of the work Is­land Fal­conry Ser­vices pro­vides, Strides admits wildlife aware­ness pre­sen­ta­tions, such as the one the West Point Wa­ter­shed As­so­ci­a­tion ar­ranged for the el­e­men­tary school chil­dren, take up a good por­tion of his time at this time of year.

Fal­conry ser­vices, he ex­plained, are ef­fec­tive in con­trol­ling pest birds.

Just hold­ing a fal­con in his gloved hand and rais­ing it up and down so that it spreads its wings, he said, is enough to scare off a flock of gulls.

ERIC MCCARTHY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Becky Bridges, a stu­dent at O’Leary El­e­men­tary School, took full ad­van­tage of a re­cent field trip to hold a trained saker fal­con.

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