A Hawking Experience

David Cook talked about his hobby and full time business, caring for his birds and showing them with visits to schools, clubs, fetes and birthday parties.

On Tuesday, 9th february, 2016, our speaker was David Cook and his subject was “A Hawking Experience”.   David began by telling us he started his hobby following a fight against cancer some twenty five years ago.   He brought with him six owls from his collection which has grown from just two birds to forty five and explained that, what began as a hobby is now a full time business, and his days are filled with caring for his birds and showing them with visits to schools, clubs, fetes and birthday parties.   He advertises his business as a Hawking Experience from introduction to falconry, hawk walks and owl experiences.    He first introduced us to three owls, the smallest of which was called Dismo and comes from Africa and which was sometimes called a transforming owl.   It weighed approximately four and a half ounces and, whilst in captivity, is expected to live for about twelve years.    Ashley is the name of the second bird which is a Belgian Barn Owl and the third called Luna was a British Barn Owl, sometimes called a “Screech Owl” which weighed eleven ounces and would be expected to live to 10 to 15 years whilst in captivity.  During the Show Season the birds are weighed early morning and again in the evening, thus ensuring that their flying weight was maintained at an even level.    Three more owls were introduced, this time much larger.   One of these, an African Spotted Owl, was called Measles because of its spotted plumage.  A speciality of this bird was to be a ring carrier at weddings.   On several occasions Measles, fully spruced up for the occasion and sitting on a white gauntlet, would be waiting for the vicar to call for the wedding ring.   On cue the bird would be released and would fly to the best man who would take the pouch, which contained a replica ring, from the bird and deliver to the vicar the real ring to be placed on the bride’s finger.   During his talk David was ably assisted by Rotarians Henry Dent and Tom Hatchett who acted as perches for the owls.    Rotarian John Roper thanked David for h is very interesting and fascinating presentation.