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.


  • 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!

Mews News 2021 heading to print

The Mews News for 2021 is getting buttoned up this week, and Friday we send this gorgeous issue to the printers. Once that happens, it will also get automatically mailed out to all current members. If you haven't paid your dues yet (maybe because you usually pay at the November meet) you can do it online. It's easy!

Head to the members section and renew your dues if you need to, and - this is key - update your mailing address. Get in touch with the board if you have concerns about mailing address changes or you're having trouble getting your dues set up by Friday.

We've all been cooped up a bit, and we really want you to get this issue. Personally, I'm super proud of everyone who's published in it - incredible content by incredible falconers in NYS, all articles; no advertisements, no reports. Just falconers writing to falconers, about falconry. There are over 60 pages here, with skills articles, poems, cultural "mewsings" (couldn't resist), pictures and so much more from every corner of the state.

We have some exciting board work going on too, some of which is already starting to show progress in the Members sections of the website. Stay tuned!

Matt / NYSFA Editor

USFWS 3-186A up and running

The USFWS 3-186A database is back up and running! There is a permanent link in our members section, and here it is below.


A few things

1) The ID numbers and passwords for the old site should still work, if falconers remember them. If they need assistance, NYSDEC Special Licenses office can look them up.

2) 3-186A forms that were submitted to the old database (prior to July 2016) were carried over to the new one. NYSDEC SLU still has a spreadsheet with that information and can look up transactions prior to July 2016, though, if need be.

3) Paper forms that have been submitted since July 2016 did NOT get carried over. The states have to enter those manually. We have copies of all paper forms that were submitted during that period, but it’s going to take a little time to get them all entered. NYSDEC SLU are still going to maintain the paper copies in the falconers’ folder, however, so if someone is looking for a copy of something they submitted, they can still look it up.

4) Falconers should be aware that the license level, addresses and in some cases, names, that are in the current database reflect what was on file in 2016 (or earlier). USFWS does not have a record of upgrades and address changes that happened during the 2+ year interim, so falconers should check and correct this information when they log in for the first time.


The following information is the Environmental Conservation Law of New York State. Links to it and other general information can be found on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/28632.html