Taking Flight With Raptors

Taking Flight With Raptors

Parahawking, a sport that combines paragliding and falconry, is drawing adventurers and fostering a new breed of conservationist. 

By Susan Cosier
Published: 05/04/2012

Although there are no parahawking regulations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does regulate falconry, something only about 3,500 people practice in the U.S. “It would be a problem if everyone had a hawk on their wrist, but it’s so much work that it’s not going to happen,” says Kenn Kaufman, a bird expert and Audubon field editor. “If it gives people a way or a reason to have a positive interaction [with a raptor], then that’s good.”

Sellinger says that a parahawking outfit here could also offer a new perspective on today’s environmental issues. “We have the same plight as birds ourselves,” he says. “We have to deal with power lines and population expansion and all those things. We’re running out of hawking fields and paragliding areas just like the birds are running out of their hunting grounds.” (Although Sellinger would focus on the perils facing wild birds, he plans to use only raptors bred and raised in captivity for the practice.)

The more people learn about hawks, the more they appreciate them, he says. Until Sellinger’s operation is functional, a growing number of tourists will parahawk where trained guides take them flying with raptors, in the Spanish countryside, for instance, or with snowcapped Annapurna in the distance. Soaring over stunning vistas, a vulture at the tip of the canopy, may bring into focus the awe-inspiring experience of taking wing. 

For more, visit Parahawk.com or check out the organization's Facebook page.

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Susan Cosier

Susan Cosier is former senior editor at Audubon magazine. Follow her on Twitter @susancosier.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


I agree with previous

I agree with previous response. This seems exploitative to me. A little too "circus trick" for me to appreciate.

Incredible! I love the idea.

Incredible! I love the idea. Being "up close and personal" in the bird's realm has been my dream from childhood and I suspect that is true for many people. The closest I came to this sort of thing is glider or sailplane at Dillingham on Oahu.

In reply to "Gosh" above ("Isn't there some other way we can get people interested?"), I notice he does not offer any ideas. The fact is that until and unless people can enjoy wildlife and wilderness such things will continue to yield to human development. Wildlife must *become* part of the human experience and not just enjoyed by elite biologists or ornithologists (or "ologist" of any kind).

I agree with not using wild

I agree with not using wild animals for entertainment. It's not a black and white thing but a valid point.

Gosh. What can I say. I am

Gosh. What can I say. I am not a fan of falconry. I am not a fan of using animals for our entertainment. If we can observe them in the wild without disturbing them in any meaningful way, than I am for that. But this is just encouraging people to continue to view animals (that should be wild) as having the function of serving us. Sorry. Not pleased with Audubon's role in this. Isn't there some other way we can get people interested?

Thanks for your comments. The

Thanks for your comments. The birds used for Parahawking in Nepal are actually rescued. They have been hand reared since they were chicks and would not survive in the wild if they were to be "released". Parahawking provides an opportunity for the birds to be flown in the their own natural environment whilst exercising their natural behaviour. Their lives in captivity are enriched and fulfilled whilst raising awareness and valuable funds for vital vulture conservation projects in Nepal.

Love birds and love these

Love birds and love these stories. Happy to see others watching over our critters. thx

What a great idea

In viewing the parahawking video, I enjoyed seeing two species flying together. Each gaining an increased understanding and appreciation while at the same time raising needed funds for the birds.Great work!


I discovered the Parahawking website, their many videos posted on YouTube, and Scott's tweets earlier this year. Its something that anyone with any interest on birding should look at, and of course, at least consider trying. Thanks for all of the background info regarding why the birds are in danger.

The video is really well

The video is really well done. Great job audubon!

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