Bond with a falcon

West Coast Falconry shows you how to put a bird on it

Master falconer Kate Marden lends a leather-gloved hand to birds of prey.

Master falconer Kate Marden lends a leather-gloved hand to birds of prey.

Photo By william leung

61. Bond with a falcon

My first attempt to interview falconer Kate Marden was interrupted by a screeching peregrine falcon. The bird, miffed his meal was delayed, was one of many at West Coast Falconry, located in the Sierra foothills east of Marysville.

How does one build a career around training and caring for birds of prey? Marden, a West Marin transplant, said it started early with an elementary-school assembly featuring a red-tailed hawk, a horned owl and a bald eagle. Years later, a chance meeting during a volunteer gig at a Renaissance fair revived her passion for falconry.

“I talked to a man, he handed me a business card and said, ‘If you ever want to become a real falconer, give me a call,’” Marden said.

In 1998, the doggy day care owner became a falconer. She still owns the day care, but since 2006, she’s lived and worked in the foothills training birds, giving educational tours and even leading school demonstrations like the one that originally inspired her.

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West Coast Falconry offers a wide variety of experiences, from a simple introduction to falconry ($30) to a half-day falconry experience ($250) where you can actually fly the birds to your glove. And if you want to become a master falconer like Marden, there is an apprenticeship course offered from October 26-28.

Make sure to call and schedule an event ahead of time. The falcons don’t sound too happy when mealtime is interrupted.

West Coast Falconry, 10308 Spring Valley Road in Marysville; (530) 749-0839;