Birds of prey have always intrigued me, and as I immersed myself in covid-birdwatching, it was the soaring hawks that made my heart race. So, when I learned about Adam Baz and his business Hawk on Hand Falconry Services, I knew I had to go on an outing and “fly” his falcons.
You have to be into this kind of thing – not everything thinks that having a bird whoosh through the air to light on your wrist is a thrill. But if you also took up birding during the pandemic, or if you read “H is for Hawk’ by Helen Macdonald a few years back, this might be an outing for you. Or a great gift for Father’s Day.
We met Adam near his Highland Park home at the Ernest R. Debs Regional Park and recognized him immediately as he carried his three hawk cages from his car to a regular table at the shady park. After spending some time learning about the history of falconry as a sport, and learning about Adam’s significant experience (he studied ornithology, so really knows his birds), we got to the main event. We gloved up, put some fresh quail meat in our fingers, and when we were ready, signaled for the bird to fly. It was thrilling to be up close to such a magnificent creature! When Jasper (pictured above) alights on the glove, it’s a gentle thud – he weighs under a pound, and pecks eagerly until the meat is gone. Then, he looks at you as if to wonder if there is more… at which point, you gently lift your arm and he flies back to a tree nearby. Adam has Jasper trained to a laser pointer, which seems like magic in itself, and we each had several chances to fly the bird. We then did the same with a second bird, Kanoni – an augur buzzard from Africa, who was significantly heavier and younger.
Here are all the experiences Hawk on Hand offers – group or private outings are relatively inexpensive and completely worth the investment. Adam tells us that even young kids come to fly the birds, and we’d totally trust him as a cautious and safe guide.
Turns out, Jasper and Adam’s other Harris hawks are working birds. The falconry services in his business title refers to the job they do when the hawks fly around hotels and studios and haze pigeons. The establishments want the birds to go elsewhere, so by swinging by a few times a week, Jasper and friends teach the pigeons that they’re not welcome.
Deb’s Park is the site of the Audubon Center at Deb’s Park. Debs Park is an urban oasis for wildlife and people less than 5 miles from Downtown Los Angeles. Over 140 species of birds have been spotted in Debs Park, making it home to birds like American Kestrels, Great-horned Owls, Northern Flickers, and Yellow-rumped Warblers throughout the year. After your adventure, you could hike in the 282 acres in this urban oasis.
Audubon Center at Debs Park
4700 North Griffin Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Office Hours: Tues-Sat, 9am – 5pm
Trail Hours: Sun up to sun down, every day