Our Travel Girl tells us why 2018 is a special year for women and falconry!

HAMMOND, La. - World falconry happens every November (this year it was November 16th) but all of 2018 has been designated a specialĀ  year for female falconers.

"The International Association of Falconry has declared 2018 the year of the woman falconer," says Kitty Carroll, who has been working with birds of prey full-time since 1989, after getting her falconry license in 1974.

With a home base in Florida, Kitty is currently bringing education and entertainment to crowds of folks in Louisiana every weekend, with more than a dozen birds of prey at the Louisiana Renaissance Fest, running now through December 9th.

It takes several steps to become a falconer, starting with a test. You also need a sponsor who will watch over you for two years. Kitty says proving your sincerity can be the hardest part of the process.

Before you can get your own bird, you must build a habitat for your feathered friend, and have it approved by the state.

Kitty was kind enough to give WGNO's Travel Girl Stephanie Oswald a mini-lesson in falconry.

Her show is one of the highlights of the Renaissance Fest and it's filled with environmental lessons and information about how important the birds of prey were during the early middle ages and afterwards.

During Renaissance times hunting with birds of prey was popular with nobility but it wasn't only for male royalty: Queens often took part as well. Our Travel Girl had so much fun, she says it could be her next job!

"I always say, once a falconer, always a falconer!" laughs Kitty.

According to Kitty, there are about 5,000 falconers in the United States, and only about 10 percent are women.