Via Mr. & Mrs. Great Dismal comes word of this (relatively) new and unusually heart-tugging form of adventure sport… Parahawking:

The filmmakers mention Rio at the YouTube link, but this footage looks like it was shot in the sky above the Torrey Pines bluffs of N. County San Diego, California. And here’s another Torrey Pines clip of paraglider falconers, soaring with a Harris Hawk named Shanti.

Harris Hawks are an unusual species of raptor that can adapt splendidly to relationships with humans, becoming one of the most well-loved breeds among North American falconers. (Most raptors prefer to hunt alone, but Harris Hawks hunt together in family groups, and exhibit complex social behavior.)

Other folks have been intentionally paragliding with birds of prey elsewhere in the world for about a decade now, namely Spain and Nepal.

Soaring above the Himalayas with Kevin the Egyptian Vulture. Photo by D. Stemler.

Click here to read some parahawking FAQs answered by sport innovator Scott Mason. Mason, who has organized teams based out of both places, works primarily with endangered Egyptian Vultures (another highly social bird that gets along well with people) as well as other Asian vultures, kites, and eagles.

It’s hugely inspiring to read his words on how the sport, and his work in particular, has come to benefit conservation efforts. Mason has said that only rescued and rehabilitated birds are trained for parahawking; he never takes them from the wild. In fact, he and his partner, Anita Hjertas, also run a wild raptor rescue and conservation village called Maya Devi. Wounded wild raptors are brought there to heal, and then returned to the wild whenever possible.

So uplifting, literally!

EDIT: GAH! John P. just shared this incredible clip of Kerri Wolter from South Africa, soaring with vultures. Thank you so much, mister!

3 Responses to “Parahawking!”

  1. gooby Says:

    Oh, I’ve been wasting my life.

  2. joasakura Says:

    hello there, amazing thing i never heard of before but OH GOD I WANT TO TRY.

    seriously, this is bucket list material. how awesome to be able to glide up there with those gorgeous birds?

  3. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    (Ah. “Rio for Real” is a reference to an animated children’s film. NOW I geddit.)