This week I hung out with Sybil, a kestrel who measures at a mere 12.2'' and a weight of 127 grams, and falconer Katharine Eisenhart. When I first arrived at Sybil's residence I was greeted by a cheery Katharine, an apprentice level falconer from Upstate New York. She's somewhat of a rarity in the world of falconry as the hobby tends to be predominantly male dominated. Katharine stumbled upon falconry last November after befriending fellow master level falconer, Vince, when working at the local Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown Heights.
"Vince came to the farm seeking permission to fly his red-tailed hawk, when I mentioned my interest in birds of prey and working with them. He didn't take me seriously at first but after talking to me for a couple of months and seeing what kind of work I did and how easily I didn't give up he offered to take me as an apprentice"
Katharine went on to acquire the proper licenses needed to start this hobby and soon found herself out on the field looking to capture her own bird, with Vince's help. As an apprentice, you have the choice of two types of birds, a kestrel or a red-tailed hawk. Most sponsors are reluctant to give their apprentice the choice to capture a kestrel. This is due to the fact that kestrels require more dedication, as they are smaller birds and their body weights are extremely sensitive to fluctuation. Never the less, Katharine would chose to train a kestrel. The kestrel would be named Sybil and from then on the two would build a relationship. This began with the tradition of "waking" - where the apprentice falconer and their new bird stay awake with each other for a total of 72 hours, in order to tame the bird and build a trust between them. The tradition is usually done in shifts with the help of other falconers, to give the apprentice time to rest.