DEC Update – Annual Reports Due

Teresa Ruiz at the DEC and I had a nice conversation today. It came to my attention that some falconers are having trouble with USPS delivering their annual reports, including items being returned as undeliverable, or just never showing up. If that's you, Teresa is seeing it too - she's only got half the reports she should so far!

First, please verify that you have sent in your annual report. If you have not, or it got returned in the mail, please take the following steps to get it done ASAP, as described by Teresa:

You can email your completed reports and current, valid NY hunting licenses directly to Teresa at SpecialLicenses@dec.ny.gov, or Teresa.Ruiz@dec.ny.gov.

  • Yes, this includes folks that don’t have a bird and haven’t hunted - Special Licenses need reports from you too. A scan is fine, or take a picture of the document. Both sides of the form!
  • No, you don’t need to send in a hard copy if you email it.
  • Yes, it needs to be on the Falconry Annual Report Form. Please don’t make Teresa decipher a report submitted on a coffee stained napkin. Here’s the link to the page where you can find the form if you need a copy: https://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/28632.html
  • Please do add it as an attachment to the email, do not drop a pic into the body of the email. Outlook gets angry when the DEC tries to print an email with a picture in it and then Teresa has to spend time saving it into a printable format.

The faster Teresa can get our annual reports logged, the sooner she can get to the growing stack of upgrade requests! The DEC is aware that paperwork has piled up, and they are as frustrated as some of us at the delivery problems mail has going on. Let's work with them to try and get these reports filed in a timely fashion.

If you have any questions about those directions, or problems finding the forms online, you can reach out to me directly at vicepresident@nysfa.org. Thanks!

Matthew Vercant, NYSFA Vice President

American Kestrel photo by the Field Museum

Field Meet Guest Speaker: Al Jordan

We are pleased to welcome as our Guest Speaker, internationally acclaimed bird sculptor, master falconer, and author. He will be presenting a slideshow of his sculptures, some hands on viewing, and discussing the ways in which his art is informed by falconry.

Al's sculptures

About Al

Al has been studying and enjoying birds his entire life.  While growing up. he spent many hours with his father watching birds at local Audubon facilities and many hawk migration points including Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, the south shore of Lake Erie in New York, and Hawk Cliff in Ontario, Canada. 

Al briefly wandered away from birds to pursue a career in the art of cooking, graduating from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1983.  During his stint at the CIA, he managed to return to nature spending a year as a chef for a research team in Antartica.  While working in the food service industry, he began his career in bird sculpture.  Al's first creation, a Bufflehead decoy, won every competition it entered. It was then that his love for the art form exploded.  Subsequent successes enabled him to retire from the Chef world in 2006 to pursue his love of bird sculpture fulltime. 

In 2004, after spending many hours working in a raptor banding station, Al dove into the world of Falconry.  He has since attained the acclaimed status of Master Falconer and is recognized as one of the most successful falconers on the east coast.  As a result, Al is viewed as one of the country's leading experts in raptors.  That said, he maintains an interest and ability to capture all orders of birds in his lifelike sculptures.  Hawks, owls, shorebirds, and songbirds have all been subjects of his highly sought after pieces.

Field Meet Details

Our annual field meet will be held in Oneonta NY this year, at the Quality Inn located at 5206 State Highway 23 Oneonta NY 13820. A block of rooms has been reserved for our event at the special price of $79 per night.

Call them today to reserve yourself a room. (607) 433-2250

2021 Field Meet Schedule

Friday

  • 12pm - Registraion & weathering yard open
  • 12pm - Sunset – HUNTING
  • 5 pm - Weathering Yard Closed
  • 5 pm - Fundamentals of Falconry, 101: Perfect for interested beginners, great way to meet new people
  • 6 pm  Pizza Party! Great way to meet new folks and greet old friends

Saturday

  • 7 am –  Weathering Yard Open
  • 7 am - Various hunting groups coordinated privately, or via forum or FB
  • 10 am - Coping class: Learn to do beaks and talons 
  • 12 pm - Lunch hour
  • 2 pm – Raptor equipment Basics (anklets, jesses, leashes, etc.)
  • 4 pm -Weathering yard Closed
  • 4:30 pm - Membership Meeting (fully dues paid members only)
  • 6 pm - Banquet, guest speaker and auction

Register today online and save

2021 Field Meet Schedule

The 2021 Field Meet is coming together! We have a couple big things we want to talk to you about. First off, the board and Sean have been putting together a fantastic slate of activities on Saturday. Some classes, a photographer, a guest speaker, hawking, a membership meeting, banquet and - of course - auction! 

Register by clicking here, or read on for more detail

Photos by Dillon Berrus, MCC Sports Photo

2021 Field Meet Schedule

Friday

  • 12pm - Registraion & weathering yard open
  • 12pm - Sunset – HUNTING
  • 5 pm - Weathering Yard Closed
  • 5 pm - Fundamentals of Falconry, 101: Perfect for interested beginners, great way to meet new people
  • 6 pm  Pizza Party! Great way to meet new folks and greet old friends

Saturday

  • 7 am –  Weathering Yard Open
  • 7 am - Various hunting groups coordinated privately, or via forum or FB
  • 10 am - Coping class: Learn to do beaks and talons 
  • 12 pm - Lunch hour
  • 2 pm – Raptor equipment Basics (anklets, jesses, leashes, etc.)
  • 4 pm -Weathering yard Closed
  • 4:30 pm - Membership Meeting (fully dues paid members only)
  • 6 pm - Banquet, guest speaker and auction

Important Updates to Weather Yard Rules

Updated Weathering Yard Rules. The 2019 NYSFA Board passed the following changes to the Field Meet Weathering Yard Rules. Due to COVID, this will be the first meet where they are in effect. Please review them prior to attending, and plan accordingly. 

NYSFA Weathering Yard Rules:

At all field meets, the club will provide a fenced and gated area (weathering yard) for perching out hawks. The club will also provide volunteers (yard wardens) to supervise the weathering yard.

The following rules will apply:

  • No tid-bitting or feeding is allowed in, or within sight of, the weathering yard. 
  • perches greater than the height of the hawk, Not to exceed 24”
  • Hawks need to be tied so that they fit within a 6' X 6' (24sq. ft.) area. 
  • Adequate space must be made between perches. Perch spacing will be marked with a flag
  • No dogs allowed in the weathering yard.  
  • No loitering inside the weathering yard.  
  • No photography inside the yard. (There are exceptions, and may require an escort. Please inquire with the yard warden).
  • No "fishing tackle" (coastal locks, etc.) allowed.
  • No threaded links, spring clips, split rings allowed.
  • Flat bottom indoor perches must have at least two tent pegs/ spikes into the ground to prevent dragging
  • Bath pans are encouraged for hawks on low perches.
  • Hawks must be removed from the weathering outside of posted hours
  • The yard warden has final authority.
  • Hawks are placed in the weathering area at the owner’s risk. While all efforts will be made to ensure the safety of all hawks placed in the weathering yard, NYSFA accepts no responsibility for the safety or welfare of hawks placed in the weathering yard.

COVID-19 and the Field Meet

Please note this policy is subject to change and open to feedback, up to the date of the meet itself. If you have concerns, questions, or comments for the board, please reach out to info@nysfa.org. This is a work in progress, and will be updated accordingly.

It's been a strange year, and we know this question will come up. In an effort to have a simple, understandable policy so everyone knows what to expect, these are the expectations for all attendees of the NYSFA 2021 Field Meet:

  • Unless eating or drinking, all attendees will wear a mask or other face-covering at all times while indoors. 
  • Outdoor masking is not required, unless unvaccinated and within 6 feet of other attendees. 
  • Presenters who may need to use their mouth for hooding / unhooding are permitted to forgo a mask. We will take steps to keep presenters a distance of at least 6 feet from all other attendees. 

These guidelines are based on current best practices and CDC recommendations. Thank you for your cooperation and assistance in making this a field meet. 

In need of Volunteers

Many hands make light work. Sometimes even donating an hour or two of your weekend can really help us out.

  • Check-in & Registration: throughout the weekend. As always we need help taking everyone’s money, collecting items for the auction, and being a welcoming face for those arriving
  • Weathering yard wardens: throughout the weekend. Even donating an hour or two of your time would be a help. A great many people enjoy hanging out around the weathering yard much of the weekend, just asking that you do a little extra.
  • Teacher(s) and Bird(s) needed for the coping class: Even if you only have a bird that your willing for us to work on, That helps
  • Teacher for the equipment basics class: Teach how to make anklets, jesses, leashes, etc. discuss types & materials, and why we use them.
  • Auction Set up: Saturday Afternoon. Alicia had done a great job the past few years with putting it together. But a few hands to sling tables, write labels, and help organize will make All the difference
  • Auction Runners: a few able bodies for delivery duty during the auction can help us get thru it as fast as possible.

If you would like to help out with any of these, please let Sean know by emailing President@NYSFA.org. The sooner the better.

Register for the 2021 Field Meet today, or send Roy Loftfield an email (treasurer@nysfa.org) and let him know you

Welcome, Josh McKee, wildlife photographer to the 2021 Field Meet

Josh McKee, wildlife photographer, will be joining us at the November 2021 Field Meet in Oneonta. McKee has been a sports and wildlife photographer for over a decade, so you know he can get an action shot AND debate sports statistics too! His clients include NBT Bank, Paragon Racquet and Athletic Club, Pratt and Whitney, the University of Pennsylvania, Keene State College, Moravian College, and numerous news outlets across the US. He is excited to have an opportunity to work with us.

You can see McKee’s photography here (for some examples of raptor-specific pictures, go to page 6 of the gallery)

What will McKee Photograph?

Josh is excited to get into the field. We’d love some volunteers to take him along on hunts Friday afternoon/ evening and Saturday morning of the meet. Photos from these hunts will be published to our website, and the Mews News, but Josh will also have prints available for you if you want them for yourself. If you want your raptor or hunt professionally photographed, this is your absolute best chance to get it done.

McKee will also take portraits of falconers and their raptor(s), Saturday afternoon for those who would like them. These will be more posed, and taken right at the hotel. We would like to schedule time slots in advance to make Josh’s day smoother (and yours!). The actual photo shoots will be done free of charge, and then you may purchase the shots you like from Josh’s website later.

To schedule a portrait or take Josh on your hunt, please reach out to Matt Vercant at vicepresident@nysfa.org. Hunting slots are very limited and will be first-come-first served, so don’t be shy!

DEC Falconry License Upgrade Requirements

For those looking to upgrade their license this year, this post will hopefully serve as a guide.

Teresa Ruiz, our magnificent, phenomenal, DEC Special Licenses manager offers the following advice to those looking to upgrade.

First, there's no formal "form" you need to fill out. Instead, several written documents are required. Here's what Teresa says about each.

  • A written summary from the licensee documenting their experience. I need more than “I’ve flown a hawk for two years and I’m ready for an upgrade.” Seriously- I *like* reading these! Tell us what you’ve flown, what you’ve learned since your first season, challenges you’ve faced and overcome. Generals are potential sponsors; we need to know that they have the experience and knowledge to possibly mentor someone new to the sport.
  • Up to date 3-186A forms and annual reports. Yes, I do pull all of these (and check the federal database) to make sure that the bird(s) has/have been flown for the required amount of time, that only authorized birds have been taken, and that no more than one replacement has been taken per year.
  • That rules and regs have been followed throughout the Apprentice’s falconry career. (Helpful Hint- Apprentices are only supposed to be flying red tails and kestrels. You can certainly tell us all about that epic hunt you took your sponsor’s gyrfalcon on, but bear in mind that you may not get the response to your upgrade request that you were hoping for. 😉 )
  • Recommendation letters. One must be from the Apprentice’s sponsor, and the other must come from a licensed NYS General or Master falconer *who has evaluated the Apprentice in the field* At the bottom of the attached requirement sheets, the information that needs to be in these recommendation letters is very clearly spelled out. Letters that say nothing more than “This person meets requirements and I recommend that they be upgraded to General” and do not include information on the species of raptors handled, a description of the Apprentice’s skills, an evaluation of the health and appearance of the Apprentice’s bird(s), the Apprentice’s ability and success rate for taking quarry, and dedication to the birds in their care and to the sport of falconry, will be returned. As an Apprentice, if you can’t find someone who will properly evaluate you and give you feedback on your skills and abilities, you may want to consider asking someone else to write the letter.

Thanks for the insight, Teresa!

You can find the requirements to upgrade from Apprentice to General, and General to Master, summarized in the PDF documents below.

2021 Field Meet Nov 5-7

We're looking forward to the 2021 Field Meet, which will be held in Oneonta on Nov 5-7. This year we have a cool slate of events, activities and raffles planned to help kick off the new year of hawking! Details are to come, but for now, here are some of the highlights!

  • Guest Speaker, TBA - Stay tuned!
  • Fundamentals of Falconry I and additional classes by NYS General and Master falconers
  • An amazing raffle of all sorts of falconry-related items
  • Banquet and socializing, telling of "falconry field stories" and more!
  • And of course, hawking in the surrounding gorgeous countryside!

The meet is at the Quality Inn located at 5206 State Highway 23 Oneonta NY 13820. A block of rooms has been reserved for our event at the special price of $79 per night.

Call them today to reserve yourself a room. (607) 433-2250

Register online now and save $5 off the meet fee.

Photos by Dillon Berrus, MCC Sports Photo

That sounds awesome! How can I help?

Right now you might be saying "I've wanted to get more involved in the club, but what can I do?" Well, we need folks to volunteer to run classes, be extra hands in the weathering yard, and help scout out a variety of great hunting sites (not just for red-tails, but for them too!). If you're interested in volunteering to help in any way, contact the club president, Sean O'Mahoney at president@nysfa.org.

Are you a photographer?

We need photos of the field meet for the website and the Mews News - rather than having our board wander around snapping photos on their cell phones, we'd like to find someone with a professional skillset and an interest in falconry. Contact editor@nysfa.org

NYSFA Meet Planning & Budget review

Hi folks! The board has met again in June, followed by an executive session to examine finances and make a plan going forward to remain within our operating budget. A few things came out of these discussions we want to fill you in on.

First, some great news; membership is up year over last, engagement is up online, and responses to the increased quality of the Mews News, shirts and meet pins, class offerings, and picnics is overwhelmingly positive. We also want to keep raising and maintaining the high standards for our classes and guest speakers. Super cool to see the Association doing great things and improving!

To maintain all these things, and keep the meet as robust as possible, it's clear we need to raise meet fees for the first time in a while. The bump is only $10 if you preregister, and the banquet fee can remain the same. We appreciate your understanding, and look forward to seeing you at the meet!

The field meet fee will be $45 for early registration this year, and $50 at the door. You can register for the meet and the banquet online by clicking here.

NYSFA welcomes Leah Valerio as Director-At-Large

The New York State Falconry Association's Board of Directors voted to appoint Leah Valerio as Director-at-Large on June 26, 2021. Valerio is the Curator of The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, a licensed falconer, club member in good standing, and has an enormous breadth of experience with raptors and wildlife in general. She is an excellent addition to our board, and we hope our entire membership will join us in welcoming her!

Leah Valerio, director-at-large

Leah Valerio replaces Stuart Rossell as Director-At-Large of the New York State Falconry Association. Rossell resigned in March of 2021 in good-standing with the club, and the board of directors wishes him well.

Per the process proscribed in our bylaws, appointing a director to fill a vacant position requires a majority vote of the board of directors (please see the Board Documents section for this and all current meeting minutes). After that, an appointed director is eligible to run again during a regular election of the membership.

New Website, New Login

Welcome to the new NYSFA website! If you have an active membership, your information was imported from the old site. You will need to create a new password for this site, however, by following the instructions below.

FIRST TIME LOGIN TO NEW SYSTEM

  • Click on "Login" under "Membership" off the home page.
  • Click "Lost Your Password?"
  • It will then take you to a screen that says "Please enter your username or email address.
  • You will receive an email message with instructions on how to reset your password." 
  • The email will be from "Wordpress" with the subject line "[New York State Falconry Association] Password Reset". This usually takes around 10 minutes to arrive.  *****CHECK YOUR JUNK MAIL*****
  • Follow the link in the email to reset your password and login to the new site. 
  • You can now login and access the appropriate member areas. 

Once logged in

Please click on Membership -- Profile (by default this page will display when you login). Make sure all your information is correct, and please select your Region from the dropdown, then save. You can view and edit your membership info, including the date your membership ends here, your membership level, and any other details.

  • Please ensure the email you give us is one you check - this is how the site will confirm your logins and information.
  • Please note that your name, email, license level and region are displayed in the membership directory for other members, but your other information is not.

Trouble with logging in?

Contact our webmaster Roy Loftfield (admin@nysfa.org), or our Editor Matt Vercant (vercant@gmail.com)

Educational Materials

At March 2021 board meeting, the board voted in favor of improving our online resources for falconers. This includes a large-scale overhaul of our website, downloads and archives sections (included in your membership), but also having a reasonable spread of starting materials for apprentices right here.

We've reached out to the Ontario Hawking Club and the Pennsylvania Falconry & Hawk Trust, both of whom have excellent resources in these areas, and both of which generously agreed to let us republish or edit whatever we need. Thank you to our neighbors for their assistance! We'll be working with these clubs over the coming weeks to update and reorganize our own resources, and use some of theirs to help shore up documents missing from our own archives.

If there's an area of the website, or outreach and education that you're passionate about, contact admin@nysfa.org to discuss how you can pitch in! Our editorial staff are always looking for excellent articles for the annual Mews News magazine as well!