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Falconry Part I: Train the Trainer
Sun May 21, 2006 15:18 (XFF:

The class was blessedly small—the raptors didn’t mind so much the attention, but often in larger crowds Trainees and others got brave and reckless and did stupid things that resulted in injuries. When Dedicated Locke appeared and answered why he wanted to learn about falconry, he’d quipped with a straight face “Why not?” She provided him with a flat stare, despite knowing him from previous visits to the Black Tower and shook her head. “I can think of many reasons why not, Dedicated. Any one of which could result in you heading to our Infirmary if you keep up with the flippant attitude. Take your place back in the class.” The admonishment given was gentle, not angry or dominant—merely a master guiding the student. He gave another bow and blended into the crowd again.

“All right, so there are some things that you need to know about these birds before I remove any hoods. If you possess any small animals or children near your person, please have them removed because the falcons especially will see them as prey.” The deadpan look on her face might have seemed a joke, but her Oaths prevented her from lying. “No? Good.” Not that she expected either, but it was always best to give the warning. “Everyone put on your falconer’s glove, this will be your best friend for the next few hours.”

“Before we begin, a few warnings.” Demetri started. “Keep your actions mild and small. Startling the bird can have adverse effects on you and I lack the Talent to Heal even a small bruise. Although the birds look like you can pet them, do not. Aditi allows me because he and I have been together for many years, but if you try it on any of these birds, they’ll see your finger as food and snap at it. And believe me, their beaks are designed to break bones.” She went to the box where Aditi was and removed him from his perch; his hoots and cries were calm and unpanicked. “Also be careful of the talons, especially on the hawks, but the falcons as well. A hawk’s talons will cut through exposed flesh like a hot knife through warm butter. I’ve even had my hand cut pretty bad when one of Aditi’s talons found a seam by accident.”

Placing Aditi on one of the perches, she draped a hood over his eyes—he would see the falcons as prey and hunt them, and even with her hands tight on the jesses, he had enough power to break free. “I’m going to come around to each of you and show you how to hold your bird. We’ll be working with the falcons first and then the hawks.”

Walking from student to student, she led them to where a falcon was perched and hooded. Carefully removing the hood for each one, she guided the students through getting the bird on their gloved hands. “Hold your hand in a cup sideways and press the knuckle side of your hand toward their feet. There, see? They jump on automatically. Now be sure to lace the jesses, which are these leather straps, through your fingers firmly. Yes, good.”

“Now, everyone is holding one of the three of the five falcons we typically keep here in the White Tower. The Merlynn, which is identifiable by the specks or spots on their feathers. They tend to hunt smaller birds and because of their medium size, they have both agility and strength in the sky. The Peregrine is probably one of the most well known falcons because they are most often chosen by nobles to hunt with. You’ll know if you have a Peregrine by the blue-brown appearance of their backs and the white and brown mottled breast. The last, which I see a couple of you have, are the beautiful Gyrfalcons, and if you’re holding a white bird, then you’re holding a Gyrfalcon. They’re the largest of the birds here and the most powerful because of their size—some consider them the quintessential falcon, but most of us falconers think that each bird has their own special qualities marking them special in some manner.

“We have two other species here in our aviary, the prairie falcon and the Kestrel, both of which are smaller than the ones you hold and also far more temperamental. The Kestrel is a high maintenance sort of bird and is never considered a proper bird to learn on because of their tempers, and the prairie falcon is slightly larger, favored by falconers because of their excellent skills in hunting rodents and other land-dwelling animals. This one is also somewhat difficult to train and I have left them both in the aviary for now.” She looked over the group. “I’d like for you to take a couple minutes looking over your falcons and then tell me which falcon you believe you have; I’ll let you know if you’re right or wrong—and if wrong correct you on the species.”

She waited until the first guesses came in—most were right, but a couple had mixed up the Peregrine’s and Merlynn’s appearances and guessed wrong. No one was incorrect with the gyrfalcon, it would take a blind man or woman to get that wrong.

With everyone holding their falcons, the high pitched chirps of curiosity the only sound as everyone stared at her with perfect stillness. “All right, so the first things we’re going to do is you’re going to learn how to get a bird to fly to your hand. This is done to train a raptor to come at command; we reward with scraps of meat in order to give positive reinforcement, much like training a dog or other animal to work on command. Accepted Arin, loosen your hold on the jesses of your falcon so I might demonstrate. When he wants to fly, let him go.”

The Accepted looked at her with composure, fingers working to release the leather straps. Holding up her hands, she grasped one hand in the other, leaving one of her fingers to wiggle out the top. “Here!” She called. Gaining the falcon’s attention only took a moment or two and with hardly a whisper, the falcon took flight. With only two beats of its wings, it glided across the space between the Aes Sedai and Accepted and landed on Demetri’s gloved hand. Dipping into a pouch on her belt, she pulled out a scrap of meat and let the falcon snap it between its beak. Walking back to Arin, she let the falcon jump to the woman’s hand and walked again to her place, this time taking out a lure that was affixed to a long leather rope. It was in a general shape of nothing, but the movement and general size of it would gain the falcon’s attention.

Slowly, she began to whirl it around in a nearly vertical loop beside her, letting out the string a little more with each passage and finally calling, “Here!” A sharp command that caught the falcon’s attention. Again, it took flight, this time three beats of it’s wings to snag the lure mid-whirl and slam it to the ground, claws digging into the thick leather. “As you can see, it saw the lure as prey and came after it, much like the wiggle of my finger.” Getting the falcon back to her glove and walking back to the Accepted as it feasted on the next scrap of meat she’s given him. Another couple of flights and even the prospect of meat wouldn’t tempt the bird.

“All right, so one at a time, I’m going to come to each of you and provide you with scraps of meat, then I’ll walk back with your falcon and you’re going to have the bird fly to you. Give the call of ‘here!’ in a firm and commanding tone and first use your hands to bring the bird to you and then the lure that I’ll provide you. Do it right, and the falcon will come to your hand. Do it wrong or not give enough confidence to your voice, and the bird will ignore you. Think of it as the bird training the falconer.” She gave a small smile. “Now who wants to be first?”

OOC: Okay, so at least 400 words in that you study your bird and determine which one you have (it's up to you), then describing your success or failure in getting the falcon to fly to your hand. Remember the rules--any missteps and you get maimed! =D Next part will be up on Friday the 26th!

  • Falconry: The art of not getting scratchedGeneral Demetri da'Faile Sedai, Green Ajah, Sun May 14 16:10
    Demetri smiled as her finger ran down the breast of Aditi, watching as his large dark eyes blinked languorously in pleasure, his beak emitting a single prrp! of pleasure. Her falcon had been... more
    • Birds on the brainAccepted Celeste Illharess, Wed May 24 02:26
      Sweat beaded as it flowed down her forehead, rivulets of the clear liquid running tracks down her flushed cheeks. She blinked as a droplet flowed into her left eye. “I have to do it. I must succeed,” ... more
    • Falconry Part I: Train the Trainer — General Demetri da'Faile Sedai, Green Ajah, Sun May 21 15:18
      • Starkly Feathered ContrastMajor Locke Lemain, Dedicated, Fri May 26 10:53
        Locke felt a small twinge of amusement pass through him, at the idea of anyone having small animals or children stowed away somewhere. What an unlucky day for someone who kept a friendly pet rat... more
      • Falconry Part II: Caring for NestlingsGeneral Demetri da'Faile Sedai, Green Ajah, Fri May 26 08:24
        Demetri let everyone run through the exercises of getting the birds to come when called and saw that most achieved success after only a few tries, though it was hardly surprising. She'd chosen birds... more
        • A TwistMajor Locke Lemain, Dedicated, Sun Jun 4 16:12
          Locke's brow furrowed slightly at the idea that a lesson would involve coddling chicks. It was unexpected and pleasant, the kind of nuturing thing that one would not see at the Black Tower. Fatty... more
        • Falconry Part III: Going HuntingGeneral Demetri da'Faile Sedai, Green Ajah, Thu Jun 1 06:11
          Demetri led the class out of the mews quietly, studying the looks on their faces as they passed her; she saw reverence, happiness, contentment—everyone seemed to have enjoyed this portion of the... more
          • NosediveMajor Locke Lemain, Dedicated, Fri Jun 9 20:53
            Locke meandered silently amongst the rest of the class, mulling over the prospects of falconry as applied to military concept. It was not as hazy a comparison as one would think, on the most basic of ... more
          • Lesson Closed!Taryn, Tue Jun 6 07:22
            The following people got Falconry credit: Riani Aethan'Tar Accepted Celeste Accepted Arin The following have an extension until June 11: Tain Aethan'Tar John, if you need an extension, just shoot me... more
          • Gaining ConfidenceAccepted Arin Alistaire, Mon Jun 5 21:15
            Arin donned her glove once more and examined it on her hand, deciding as she did that it was a bit on the large side; being a small person, she also had fairly small hands. She deposited it back in... more
          • HuntingAccepted Celeste Illharess, Sun Jun 4 22:22
            Celeste rifled through the box of gloves. Searching around for one that fit her. It took her awhile to find a left handed glove and longer still to find one that fit perfectly. Being nearly the last... more
          • Bird of PreyRiani Aethan'Tar, Sun Jun 4 14:42
            Riani sat easy in her saddle, enjoying the sensation of sun’s warming touch. Her green-grey eyes had long since accustomed themselves to the brightness of the wooded hill-land in which they were... more
        • Exaggerated CareAccepted Arin Alistaire, Mon May 29 22:55
          Arin followed Demetri Sedai as Demetri led the group of students to the aviary, walking slowly. Perhaps she was walking a shade too slowly… but better to be over-cautious when dealing with animals... more
        • NestlingsAccepted Celeste Illharess, Fri May 26 18:55
          Raising her hand to gain the attention of her class, Demetri Sedai announced the start of the next phase of the class. They were to return the birds currently on hand to the mews and proceed to work... more
        • Re: Falconry Part II: Caring for NestlingsRiani Aethan'Tar, Fri May 26 12:11
          It was warm and dry, and Riani swallowed a yawn. Light, but she was tired! Or not tired, really, merely a bit…unaccustomed…to the heat and dryness combined with the strong smell of bird. It wasn’t... more
      • A Commanding Presence?Accepted Arin Alistaire, Wed May 24 23:13
        Arin gazed levelly at the bird on her wrist, and it looked back at her, its gaze equally commanding. She'd never been this close to one of these birds before – it was an interesting experience, to... more
      • Basic techniqueAccepted Celeste Illharess, Wed May 24 03:40
        It was a short wait for Celeste as Demetri Sedai cleared the last few who had rushed to make it for the lesson. As one of the last to arrive herself, Celeste busied herself studying the glove that... more
      • Training DayTain Aethan'Tar, Tue May 23 00:37
        Tain smiled slightly to himself as the man, a Dedicated from the Black Tower, was called down firmly, but not cruelly. Tain had always had a severe disliking of the men and women that had sworn to... more
      • Properly Trained?Riani Aethan'Tar, Mon May 22 13:52
        The glove was somewhat too big for Riani’s hands; then again, most gloves were unless they were made to fit her. Her small hands were an annoyance when handling certain weapons – like the sword, for... more
    • Fulfilling A DreamRiani Aethan'Tar, Sun May 21 14:25
      The sun was burning . Riani brushed away a sweaty, dark strand of hair; her hair was smooth enough that keeping all of it tucked neatly away was difficult, no matter how hard she braided her... more
    • Who Gives a Hoot?Major Locke Lemain, Dedicated, Thu May 18 16:23
      OOC: That was a terrible pun. But there is an owl, so ha. ___________________________________________ Novices and Accepted breezed by him without interaction, second glances notwithstanding,... more
    • Flying freeTain Aethan'Tar, Tue May 16 03:09
      Dawn had broken over the Tower proper, the darkness fading away to nothingness. Rays of bright, beautiful sunlight, making every inch of the magnificent white stonework, glisten like the surface of a ... more
    • The Art of Remembering LessonsAccepted Arin Alistaire, Mon May 15 18:04
      Arin carefully folded the letter from her family and set it on her dresser. Apparently, some plans for the marriage of her oldest sister, Shenalle, had finally been set in motion – quite past time,... more
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