Opening Times

Open 7 days a week! (inc. Bank Holidays; exc. 25th Dec. and 1st Jan.)

October – March: 10am – 5pm

March – September: 10am – 6pm

Last entry 1.5 hours before closing time.

PLEASE NOTE: Leaping Lemurs Soft Play is CLOSED until further notice.

Admission Prices

Child (3-15 yrs): £9.95
Adult (16 yrs+): £11.95
Under 3s: free of charge
Concession*: £10.45
Family Ticket (2 adults + 2 children): £34.00 + £7.95 for each additional child.

*Concession: applies to pensioners, disabled customers and accompanying carers.

Contact Us

Five Sisters Zoo
Gavieside, West Calder
West Lothian, EH55 8PT

T: 01506 870 000 / 01506 871 111

enquiries@fivesisterszoo.co.uk

Falconry School 2011-06-03T19:30:06+00:00

The Falconry School is based within the Zoo, but is run independently and queries and bookings should be forwarded to thefalconryschool@hotmail.co.uk

Falconry is basically the “ancient art” of free flying a trained hawk or falcon.

Falconry has been around for 4000 years. Its history has been traced as far back as 2000 B.C. through ancient writings, artifacts, and art. It developed in the ancient civilizations of the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped a falcon god called Horus and trained raptors on perches are depicted in Egyptian art.

By the second century A.D. falconry had spread to the Asia and into Europe by the fourth century. Most people’s knowledge of falconry stems from its popularity in medieval Europe and the middle east during the middle ages. It sometimes is called the “sport of kings” because of its association with the ruling classes and royalty of these early societies. With the advent of gunpowder and firearms in the 17th Century falconry as a means of obtaining food died out. In the early 1900’s falconry was reborn in the U.S. and Europe and its popularity has been increasing ever since.

Basic Training

Though some of the equipment has been modernised, the basic method of training a hawk for falconry has not changed since ancient times. The general philosophy is to condition the hawk to accept the falconer as a partner in the hunting process while maintaining its natural physical condition and hunting instincts. Training is accomplished through careful weight management, positive reinforcement, and repetition.

The first step in training entails a period known as “manning“. It is during this time that the hawk begins to overcome its fear of people, becomes accustomed to the falconer, and learns to associate food with the falconer’s glove. During the first few days of manning, the falconer spends many hours with the hawk.

Once the hawk overcomes its initial fear of the falconer it begins to accept food rewards that are placed on the falconer’s glove. Once this occurs, the hawk is encouraged to step up onto the glove for food rewards. As the training progresses, the hawk will be encouraged to hop, jump, and eventually fly increasingly greater distances to the falconer. In just a couple weeks the hawk is flying to the falconer on a light line called a creance. At this stage the hawk is introduced to a lure that has some resemblance to the intended game and is garnished with food. The hawk is taught that whenever it comes to this lure it will receive a significant food.

After roughly 3 to 4 weeks of training the hawk is ready to fly completely free to pursue wild game with the falconer. This process of initially releasing a hawk to hunt a certain type of quarry is called entering. For many falconers this is the most trying time as it is at this stage that the hawk is most likely to fly away and revert to the wild and the hunting instincts of the bird will prevail. If all goes well, the falconer and possibly his hunting dog will flush game that the hawk can chase, kill, and eat.

Once the hawk has eaten its fill, the falconer approaches and coaxes the hawk up onto the glove with a food reward. When this occurs the hawk associates the event and the meal with the presence of the falconer and sets the stage for the hawk to repeat the same behavior on the next hunt. The bond between the hawk and the falconer increases with continued hunting and time together. Forging this relationship with a wild raptor is what falconry is all about.

Falconry represents a unique relationship between a human and a wild animal. The falconer’s commitment to the hawk is deep. He (or she) must serve the hawk’s every need in terms of providing food, shelter, exercise, chances to hunt, and health care. The free-flying hawk has many opportunities to simply fly away and return to the wild. However, in most cases the hawk recognizes its bond to its human partner and voluntarily returns time after time to the falconer’s glove and the care he provides.

WHY NOT TRY RHIS ANCIENT ART FOR YOUSELF AT the Falconry School

At the Falconry School you can …….

Traditional Falconry Tuition @ £20 per hour. Learn the Ancient Art of Falconry at your own pace, tuition can be on a one to one basis or as part of a small group lead by one of our experienced falconers. Our Falconry tuition service is also available as an evening class.

Gold – Hawk Safari gift voucher £100. Hawk Safari itinerary is as follows, 5hrs of pure falconry pleasure….

  • Coffee – meet and greet
  • Safety talk Do’s & Don’ts
  • Meet the Hawks and one hours falconry tuition to get you started
  • We’re off, depending on the weather and the individuals fitness this part of the day is flexible
  • It’s back to base for a de-brief & well earned coffee…!!!!!

Silver – Hawk Safari itinerary is as follows, 4hrs of pure falconry pleasure….

Silver – Hawk Safari gift voucher £75

  • Coffee – meet and greet
  • Safety talk Do’s & Don’ts
  • Meet the Hawks and one hours falconry tuition to get you started
  • We’re off, depending on the weather and the individuals fitness this part of the day is flexible
  • It’s back to base for a de-brief & well earned coffee…!!!!!

Bronze – Hawk Safari itinerary is as follows, 3hrs of pure falconry pleasure….

Bronze -Hawk Safari gift voucher £50

  • Coffee – meet and greet
  • Safety talk Do’s & Don’ts
  • Meet the Hawks and one hours falconry tuition to get you started
  • We’re off, depending on the weather and the individuals fitness this part of the day is flexible
  • It’s back to base for a de-brief & well earned coffee…!!!!!

The HAWK-WALK gift voucher £35.

The HAWK-WALK gift voucher is probable our most popular and relaxing falconry experience – it consists of a simple safety talk, then we are out for a leisurely stroll. You have a Hawk in your hand your out in the fresh air, normally this is a one to one experience, but we can cater for small groups of people.

This is a fabulous gift for young and old alike, you will fly our Hawks “YOURSELF” under the guidance of a Professional Falconer
Hawk-Walk will take approximately 2 hours.

For more information e-mail: thefalconryschool@hotmail.co.uk